Take care of the environment, and the environment will take care of you—that’s the thinking behind 2014 Outstanding Achievement Green Legal Initiative recipient Eskenazi Health.
Studies show a direct link between health outcomes and human performance with the quality of both the built and natural environment. At the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus, they fully embraced this concept when developing their new facilities.
“Well-designed health care settings with views and experiences of art and natural beauty are safer and more healing for patients, resulting in quicker recovery times, less need for pain medication and improved treatment compliance,” said Jessica Barth, vice president of legal affairs and chief counsel at Eskenazi Health. “Throughout the construction of the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus, the organization worked to create a holistic environment of health and healing by incorporating state-of-the-art facilities, excellent medical care, smart and sustainable design, public art, and beautifully landscaped gardens, including a one-of-a-kind sky farm on the rooftop of the Eskenazi Health Outpatient Care Center.”
From the construction process to its current practices today, the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus implemented “green thinking” in every decision. The new campus and facility, which opened in spring 2014, include various garden spaces, a sky farm that produces food used at all Eskenazi dining facilities, and a rigorous composting effort.
“The health campus’ compost system is run daily and is able to take the 700 pounds of waste that is produced from the approximately 2,500 meals served each day and compost it into a single, 25-pound bag of processed food waste,” Barth said.
Eskenazi also has a recycling program, which included using recycled materials during the construction of the campus. The campus features more than 250 bike storage facilities and more than 180 preferred parking spaces for both low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles for environmentally friendly travelers. They also utilize water-efficient appliances, which has reduced potable water usage by more than 40 percent.
Eskenazi remains diligent in their green practices in hopes of becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Achieving this goal would make Eskenazi Health one of only 10 newly built hospitals and the first hospital campus in the nation to achieve LEED certification at a level of Silver or higher and the only one of its kind in Indiana,” said Barth. “There is a significant economic benefit to a LEED-certified campus for its decreased energy costs, but there are also measured improvements in employee retention and satisfaction, care and health outcomes and recovery time in LEED-certified hospital settings.”
While Eskenazi has applied green practices on multiple levels, Barth said the first step to going green begins with staff support.
“If you have an administration that supports going green, then it is important to gain the trust of all employees,” Barth said. “We began this at Wishard when we started planning for our new facilities. It is important to start early and know that it will take time to implement. We made an early commitment to obtain LEED Silver Certification. This helped set the tone throughout the construction process and the move to our new campus.”
Eskenazi’s role as a health care facility makes green practices especially important.
“The greatest impact we can have on the health of our community is by encouraging lifestyles and environments that facilitate active and healthy living,” Barth said. “Eskenazi Health sees it as our civic responsibility to carry these things forward into the community, not only as components of preventive care, but as proactive measures to increase the health and wellness of our community by advancing the quality of life for all.”