Gundersen shares best practices in webinar tomorrow

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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


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


Envision can help with building design

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Gundersen Health System’s new hospital

When building new or remodeling existing space, sustainability opportunities exist in everything from energy efficiency and using renewable energy to building with environmentally friendly materials to recycling construction waste.

Being thoughtful from the start of design can help prevent past environmental practices from showing up in your new facility. In fact, 75 percent of a building’s life-cycle costs are committed in the design phase, so it is important to get it right the first time.

How can Gundersen Envision help you?

We can help you find the hidden sustainability opportunities that exist when designing a new building or remodeling.

Why is Gundersen Envision qualified to help you?

Gundersen Health System recently completed several major building projects on our main campus, including a new hospital. Some of our notable achievements in building design include:

  • Energy efficiency in the top 1 percent for hospitals in the Midwest.
  • Construction recycling and reuse rates exceeding 93 percent.
  • Multiple LEED-certified facilities.
  • Use of internal standards for energy efficient design on a variety of new construction and renovation project.
  • Experience with benchmarking facility performance.

More about building design

Contact Envision at for more information.

Gundersen CEO speaking at Latin American Forum

Dr. T on wind turbine
Dr. Thompson standing atop one of Gundersen’s wind turbines in Cashton, WI.

Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO of Gundersen Health System, will bring our organization’s message of better health and well-being for our communities through sustainable environmental programs next week to an international audience.

Dr. Thompson is a featured speaker at the first Latin American Forum (1º Fórum Latino Americano de Qualidade e Segurança na Saúde), August 13-16 in São Paulo, Brazil. Through this year’s theme – “Pursuing Sustainability” – the forum brings together healthcare professionals from around the world to discuss contemporary health issues like environmental sustainability, population health and quality improvement.

Dr. Thompson will discuss Gundersen’s journey to become the first health system in the United States to achieve energy independence and the wealth of opportunities available to health systems that use environmentally and economically-sustainable business practices. He will be joined by Marcos Tucherman, manager at Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo, and Veronica Odriozola, executive director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America.

The Forum is sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in partnership with Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.

Find out how Gundersen achieved energy independence and simple steps you can take to become more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Tips for living green everyday

  1. Put a stop to unsolicited mail. Sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure you’re on the “do not call” list, just to make your life more peaceful.
  2. Reuse scrap paper. Print on two sides, or let your kids color on the back side of used paper.
  3. Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.
  4. Subscribe to good eco-friendly blogs (examples: Keeper of the Home, Kitchen Stewardship, Live Renewed, Simple Homemade).
  5. Before buying anything new, first check your local Craigslist or Freecycle.
  6. Support local restaurants that use food from less than 100 miles away and learn more about the benefits of eating locally.
  7. Fix leaky faucets.
  8. Make your own household cleaners.
  9. Line dry your laundry.
  10. Watch The Story of Stuff with your kids and talk about the impact your household trash has on our landfills.
  11. Learn with your kids about another country or culture, expanding your knowledge to other sides of the world.
  12. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
  13. Unplug unused chargers and appliances.
  14. Repurpose something. It’s fun.
  15. Collect rainwater to water your houseplants and garden.

Gundersen featured at White House summit

Gundersen Health System once again stands upon a national stage to educate others on innovative sustainability and environmental program leadership for better public health.GHS featured at White House Summit

(L-R) Kyle Tafuri, sustainability coordinator at The Deidre Imus Environmental Health Center, Hackensack University Medical Center; Gary Cohen, president/ founder of Health Care Without Harm; Rachelle Wenger, director of public policy and community advocacy, Dignity Health; Seema Wadhwa, assistant vice president of sustainability and wellness, Inova Health System; and Gundersen CEO Jeff Thompson, MD.

Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO, joined health and medical leaders, academics and other stakeholders at the White House Summit on Climate Change and Health June 23. The discussion focused “on the impacts of climate change and underscoring the important role the public health community can play in communicating and preventing these impacts.”

“By deeply following our mission of ‘health and well-being for our communities,’ healthcare can be the catalytic inspiration that proves we can simultaneously improve health, the environment, and the economy,” Dr. Thompson told the attendees of a summit breakout session on healthcare resiliency.

The first health system in the United States to achieve energy independence, Gundersen is a model for health systems nationwide. Through Gundersen Envision, the organization’s environmental program, and work with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and Health Care Without Harm, Gundersen will continue to provide leadership and innovation for the ultimate goal of better health and a better environment for patients, their families and the communities it serves.

Gundersen receives Practice Greenhealth environmental awards

For the ninth consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been awarded the most prestigious environmental achievement award offered by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

Practice Greenhealth’s Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is given to healthcare facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in healthcare.

Gundersen also received Circle of Excellence awards for outstanding performance in four categories:

1. Leadership Circle – The Leadership Circle represents the top performers with a strong infrastructure supporting a long term commitment to healthier environments through committee structure, reporting, data tracking, communication and education.

2. Less Waste Circle – Hospitals in this circle have excelled in waste prevention and material handling, demonstrated through high recycling rates, low regulated medical waste generation and low rates of total waste generated per patient day.

3. Energy Circle – The Energy Circle celebrates hospitals that are leading the sector in energy efficiency. Leaders generally have energy managers and written programs to reduce energy use over time. They are tracking energy use intensity, ENERGY STAR performance metrics, and share details on project implementation and staff engagement strategies.

4. Climate Circle – The Climate Circle highlights visionary hospitals taking the lead on tracking and measurement of CO2 emissions, and overall climate program development. Hospitals in this Circle demonstrate an understanding of the health impacts of climate change and are taking action to mitigate those impacts and educate their staff and communities on playing a supporting role.

Gundersen’s energy program, Envision, is leading the country in healthcare sustainability and has the data and documentation to prove its success. “Gundersen prioritizes green practices in our day-to-day operations as an organizational imperative,” said Jeff Rich, executive director of Envision. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our commitment to the health and safety of our patients, staff, environment, and the community at large.”

Gundersen’s energy team wants to help other organizations achieve similar success. Take the first step by scheduling an energy check-up, and find out how you can reduce your energy use by 10% in just one year.