Lower your summer energy bill


Open windows
On cooler days and nights, turn off your air conditioner and open your windows. Use a fan; it does not use as much electricity as an air conditioning compressor.

Use ceiling fans to cool your house
The most efficient ceiling fans cost as little as 30 cents a month if used eight hours a day. A  window air conditioner can cost 50 times as much as a fan. Ceiling fans will keep the air moving and allow you to keep the thermostat setting higher because moving air feels cooler.

Provide shading for your air conditioning condenser
Your central air conditioner condenser works more efficiently in a cooler environment. Provide shade around your air conditioner to reduce your cooling costs by nearly 3 percent.

Dry a load of laundry on the clothesline
Thirty years ago most clothes were dried outside on the line. Your electric dryer is a large energy user and consumes about 30 cents of electricity per load. During nice weather, try drying some loads the old fashioned way – on the clothesline. It also has the added benefit of a fresh smell for your laundry.

Utilize moisture sensing technology on your electric dryer
Most new electric dryers have sensors that can detect the moisture level in your clothes and shut off the cycle when they are dry.  This saves energy costs when compared to a timed dry cycle which is likely to waste energy after clothes are dry.

Plant trees for shade
Deciduous trees—those that produce leaves in the spring and lose them in the fall—shade your house from the sun during warmer days and let the sun warm your house on cooler days. Shading your home could save up to 8 percent on cooling costs.

Change your air conditioning filter
Clean or replace your central air conditioner filter monthly during the cooling season to improve the efficiency and extend the life of the unit.

Raise your thermostat setting
You can save $25 or more each month during the summer by raising your thermostat temperature from 72 to 78 degrees.

Learn about other ways to save energy at www.gundersenenvision.org.


Gundersen earns prestigious environmental awards

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For the 10th consecutive year, Gundersen Health System has been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for its environmental initiatives.

Gundersen received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award and four Circles of Excellence Awards last week during CleanMed, the national environmental conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability, .

“This recognition is meaningful confirmation by our peers that we are on the right path,” explains Mark Platt, senior vice president of Business Services at Gundersen. “But we don’t do this work for the fancy awards. We do it because it is the right thing to do for our patients, their families, our staff and all the communities we serve. The work we do embodies the mission and values of Gundersen Health System.”

According to Cecelia DeLoach Lynn, member of the Practice Greenhealth Awards team, “The Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award is a competitive award, encouraging hospitals to continue their pursuit of sustainable innovation across the healthcare sector. Gundersen Health System has been identified as one of the leaders in this sector, driving sustainability and embedding environmental stewardship into the very core of its culture.”

Cecelia explains that the Circles of Excellence honor up to 10 of the highest performing hospitals in 10 areas of sustainability expertise. Gundersen has been awarded the Circles of Excellence in Leadership, Waste, Energy and Climate. “These awards highlight those hospitals that are pushing the envelope and driving innovation in sustainability performance in each sustainability category,” Cecilia explains.

“We are one of only a few healthcare organizations in the country that have sustained this high level of environmental stewardship and been recognized for a decade or more,” says Tom Thompson, sustainability coordinator at Gundersen. “While this is a great accomplishment, our work isn’t finished. We are always coming up with new projects and initiatives as we continuously improve projects and processes for even better outcomes.”

To learn more about Gundersen’s Envision program, go to gundersenenvision.org.


Cut the Cup

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How often do you use a disposable cup at work when you purchase coffee, soda or even water? It’s alarming to think that over 500 billion disposable cups are sent to the landfill every year.1

To bring awareness to the amount of disposable cups used at Gundersen Health System, and to encourage employees to reduce their use of throw away cups, Gundersen Envision is launching the “Cut the Cup” initiative.

To participate in Cut the Cup, employees must use reusable cups for the beverages they consume at work. Employees are encouraged to show off to their co-workers by taking a creative photo of themselves using their reusable cup. Photos are displayed on the Cut the Cup website for all employees to see. Every quarter, the Envision committee will determine who submitted the most creative “mug shot” and will award a grand prize. Other participants will also be eligible for prizes.

“We as employees can make a difference with the choices we make each day,” says Jeff Rich, executive director of Envision. Whether it is printing less paper, turning off lights in an empty room or reducing disposable cup usage, the decisions we make have an impact on health, finances and the environment.  Wasting less is a healthy and cost conscious choice that we can make at work and at home.”

Why not get creative and launch a sustainability initiative at your organization? By rethinking, reusing and recycling, each one of  us can make a difference!

1International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2014

For more information on sustainability initiatives, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.






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 envision@gundersenhealth.org for more information.



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 envision@gundersenhealth.org for more information.

Gundersen CEO speaking at Latin American Forum

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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.

Walk, ride, share for cleaner air

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Active commuting encourages people to get physically active on a regular basis and to reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestion by actively or alternatively commuting. In addition, reducing energy consumption will help prevent illness by reducing environmental factors linked to diseases (cancer, respiratory, asthma, reproductive, cardiac).

Active/alternative commuting includes:

  • Walking
  • Bicycle riding
  • Car pooling
  • Using mass transit transportation
  • Any other travel without driving yourself (rollerblading, skateboarding. Have fun and get creative.)

Safety Tips
Follow the Rules of the Road – As appropriate – obey all traffic signs, signal and watch for traffic at intersections, cross at crosswalks, do not exceed speed limit, wear seat belt at all times, ride with traffic (bike, car), walk against traffic or use sidewalk when available, use proper lane position, etc.

Wear appropriate attire to be visible and safe – As appropriate – wear helmet, protective equipment (bike, rollerblade), be visible-wear bright clothing or reflective clothing, wear lights on person or bike, wear comfortable shoes, wear seat belt (car, bus if applicable), use rain gear as appropriate-poncho, umbrella, fenders, etc.

Be alert and aware of surroundings – As appropriate – do not use ear buds or listen to loud radio, do not talk or text on cell phone, monitor surroundings for potential dangers – environmental lighting, uneven terrain, road conditions, etc.

Safety inspection of your mode of transportation – As appropriate – secure cargo, ensure proper tire inflation, ensure mechanical items in good working condition – brakes, chains, belts, lights, turn signals, etc. Shoes in good working condition (not excessively worn, protecting feet from hazards), laces secured, etc.

Champion a Walk, Ride, Share for Cleaner Air employee challenge at your work place and start making a difference today!

Learn more about reducing energy consumption and greenhouse emissions from the environmental leaders at Envision.