Gundersen shares best practices in webinar tomorrow

Dr. T on wind turbine
Dr. Thompson atop one of Gundersen’s wind turbines.

Gundersen Health System is taking center stage to promote its success in weaving sustainable practices into healthcare, to benefit patients and the community and reduce costs.

In a live webinar Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. Jeff Thompson, MD, executive advisor and CEO emeritus, shares best practices for leadership in sustainability programming and challenges attendees to integrate environmental improvement initiatives into traditional patient care and healthcare practices.

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

During this event, attendees will:

  • Understand why leadership is critical for sustainability initiatives to reach their full potential and maximize return.
  • Explore leadership’s role in sustainability programming.
  • Learn about Practice Greenhealth, Health Care without Harm and the community of organizations that come together to share best practices.
  • Recognize that sustainability staffing pays for itself through cost savings associated with environmental improvement activities.
  • Take away three examples of where doing the right thing reduced costs.

In 2015 our organization was honored with Practice Greenhealth’s Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, which is given to healthcare facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in healthcare.

We also received Practice Greenhealth Circle of Excellence awards for leadership, waste management, energy and climate.

Gundersen is the first known healthcare organization to achieve energy independence, producing more energy than it consumes from fossil fuels.

Gundersen Envison, our environmental program, can help your organization turn theory into action and results. For more information and to schedule a speaker, email, call toll-free (855) 669-1653 or log on to

Start the New Year out right with a reusable water bottle


Do you drink bottled water on a daily weekly basis? If so, is it because you have to, or is it your personal choice? If it is a personal choice, perhaps it is time for you to rethink and choose an alternative. Bottled water is convenient however bottled water has many negative effects on the environment. Did you know

  • Although most bottled water claims to be from fresh spring waters, about 25-40% of it comes from municipal sources (tap water)?
  • Bottled water produces around 1.5 million tons of plastic each year, which equates to almost 50 million gallons of oil needed to produce the plastic?
  • Although plastic bottles can be recycled, over 80% are thrown away? This is bad for the environment because plastic takes a long time to decompose in the landfill.

What is a good alternative to bottled water? Buying reusable water bottles made of either glass, metal or plastic. The plastic for reusable water bottles is different than the one time use bottled water plastic because it is durable (lasts longer), dishwasher safe, and in many cases BPA free. Reusable water bottles are also easier on your pocket book; the cost is recovered quickly when you stop purchasing bottled water.

If you don’t like the taste of the tap water at your house or at work consider getting a water filter that can be attached to your sink or one that can be stored in your fridge. This will clean the water of any impurities and in most cases improve the taste. Or try adding natural flavors to your water such as basil, lemon, lime, or various other fruits, which will not only excite your taste buds but provide you with important nutrients for a healthy body. Bottled water may be convenient but if we want to make a positive difference on the environment it is time to kick the bottled water habit and turn to something that is reusable!

Eco-friendly holiday celebrations


Planning for the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful. You can “go green” and have fun doing it! Here are some tips to help you be environmentally friendly during the holidays.

  • Celebrate at home instead of traveling. This will reduce your carbon footprint. If you have to travel, consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other family members, and using the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • If your holidays are during the winter months, plan ahead by picking out local or organic fruits and vegetables and freezing or canning them for use at your holiday meal. Buy your meat or dairy products locally if possible. This not only supports local business, but it also decreases your carbon footprint because your food is not being transported from a distant location. So next time you drive by a local butcher shop, take a look inside!
  • At the dinner table, avoid serving with disposable serving items like Styrofoam or paper. When it comes to napkins, use cloth. Not only will it look nicer, it will decrease what you put in the landfill.
  • Make your own decorations from materials around the house. Not only will this save you money but the decorations will be unique and more meaningful.
  • Think before you throw away containers or packaging that your holiday items came in. Can you reuse them for something or possibly even recycle them? This also helps decrease what you send to the landfill.
  • Invite neighbors or friends over for the holidays. Not only would this reduce carbon footprints but it will bring you closer to those you care about.

Consider these ideas for other celebrations too. Next time you start planning for a celebration or event, think green.

Learn more at

Gundersen achieves another energy independence milestone

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Gundersen Health System has reached another significant milestone in its effort to be energy independent.

In November 2015, Gundersen produced more energy than it consumed from fossil fuels, the first calendar month since the system announced its first days of energy independence in October 2014.

Achieving energy independence was and remains a challenging and moving target. Hospitals typically use two and a half times more energy than commercial buildings. In Wisconsin, which has one of the most energy-intensive climates in the nation, the challenges are amplified.

Gundersen has met these challenges with fossil fuel energy efficiency improvement of over 50 percent, resulting in a cumulative financial savings of more than $8.5 million from conservation alone. In addition, the health system established regional partnerships for energy generation, including dairy digesters, wind turbines and a landfill gas-to-energy initiative. Local projects also include geothermal energy and a biomass boiler.

“Producing more energy than we consumed for an entire month is a remarkable achievement,” says Jeff Rich, executive director of Gundersen Envision, the organization’s sustainability and environmental program. “We’ve said from the beginning energy independence is a work in progress and we are committed to continuous improvement. Our staff and our local and regional partners should be credited for helping move us closer to the ultimate goal: sustained energy independence that leads to healthier patients and communities, a better environment and lower costs.”

To learn more about Gundersen’s sustainability efforts, visit


Gundersen, world leaders convene for environment, public health talks

Gundersen Health System is showing an international audience health systems can take care of patients and the environment simultaneously, while reducing costs.

Jeff Thompson, MD, executive advisor and chief executive officer emeritus, is representing Gundersen this week at the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris. Gundersen is one of 16 United States health systems – the Health Care Climate Council – asking global leaders to protect human health through environmental action.

“It is our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve, which includes taking action to improve and protect our environment, reduce our waste and lower our costs,” Dr.  Thompson says. “Not every healthcare organization makes this a priority, but we have shown it is possible to provide exceptional patient care and exceptional care for the environment.”

Dr. Thompson will participate in a panel discussion titled “Live from Paris: Connecting Wisconsin and the UN Climate Talks.” The panel, hosted by the University of Wisconsin Global Health Institute and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, features experts and innovators in environmental and sustainable change.

The panel discussion is scheduled Thursday, Dec. 3, at 10:30 a.m. Central time. You can watch a live stream here.

To learn more about Gundersen’s sustainability program, including our energy independence achievement, log on to

Click here for more on the UN Climate Change Conference.

We’ll come to you

Gundersen Envision speakers will travel to your event, whether large or small, to help make it a great success. These highly qualified, experienced presenters are available to speak on a variety of topics, including:

Energy efficiency improvement (especially healthcare facilities)

    • Base lining and benchmarking facility performance
    • Lean “kaizen” events to launch an energy management program
    • Common sources of energy waste
    • Validating improvements with measurement systems

Renewable energy project development (from an “owner’s” perspective)

    • Best technology choices for a particular geography (i.e. wind, solar, biogas, biomass, geoexchange, hydro, etc.)
    • Site selection tradeoffs
    • Feedstock considerations
    • Permitting challenges
    • Available Incentives
    • Financial business case development and modeling
    • Contract considerations for equipment supply, construction, and operation
    • Operations and maintenance considerations

Project case studies

    • Commercial wind projects
    • Landfill biogas combined heat and power project
    • Dairy manure anaerobic digester projects
    • Biomass (woodchip) boiler with backpressure steam turbine (co-generation)
    • Geoexchange (ground source) heat pump
    • Heat recovery chiller
    • Solar hot water systems
    • Solar photovoltaic system

For more information and to schedule a speaker, email or call toll-free (855) 669-1653.

See a list of our speakers and their speaking history at


Care Beyond Our Walls: Reducing Hospital Energy Costs and More

Mark Platt, senior vice president of Business Services at Gundersen Health System, spoke at 3M’s first Sustainability in Healthcare Summit. To hear Mark’s presentation, follow this link to log in (free) and choose chapter: “Care Beyond Our Walls: Reducing Hospital Energy Costs and More.”

Envision can help you with building design, renewable energy development, energy efficiency projects, and can perform an energy check-up on current facilities. In addition, Envision’s highly qualified, experienced speakers can come to your facility or event to present on a variety of topics. Email for more information.