The Santa Cruz County’s Green Business Certification Program is an incentive-based program designed to encourage businesses to meet and exceed environmental standards, while conserving natural resources. Every year, the County Board of Supervisors recognizes those businesses that have gone above and beyond to meet the criteria to become a certified Green Business.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), part of Sutter Health, is one of those businesses. PAMF has been recognized as one of the top places to work and leading health care organizations in the Bay Area. Delivering high quality health care with a commitment to the communities PAMF serves are key priorities to their organization. That includes focusing on key environmental concerns. With sustained effort and innovative approaches, PAMF Santa Cruz has now incorporated this awareness into its corporate culture. Under the initiative of Tom Hart, VP of Facility Planning and Development, its executives adopted guidelines for employees and providers to allow them achieve best practices in the areas of green building and sustainability in their daily work flow.
For the past five years, PAMF has relentlessly been working on achieving its Green Business Certification. So far, it has achieved the certification at five of their clinical centers located in Capitola, Aptos, Commercial Crossing, Dominican Way and Chanticleer Avenue in Santa Cruz. Their ultimate goal is to obtain its Green Business Certification at all sites in Santa Cruz County. In the meantime, all of PAMF sites in the County of Santa Cruz have already adopted as many of the basic tenets of the program as possible, which is already producing a substantial decrease in their environmental footprint. Just to illustrate, all new construction projects meet current local, state and federal Green Building requirements in HVAC, lighting, energy, recycling, environmental-friendly practices and water use guidelines, among other requirements. They continue to retrofit older buildings with LED lighting systems and will soon be implementing solar solutions. While exceeding at meeting current medical and biohazard waste codes, PAMF has also revamped its system of color coded bins to include recycle bins, plastic bag collection bins and has introduced the quart-size trash can.
PAMF has been a pioneer on collecting unused medications by voluntarily funding a system of drop-off bins for patients’ unused prescriptions and the pick-up/disposal of those drugs at five clinics. They partnered with the county to ensure compliant procedures and offer educational materials to promote the appropriate disposal of needles and expired medications. The county recently began providing labor and costs for the pickup/disposal portion and is helping PAMF to expand the program to more clinics.
To further provide green solutions in the office environment, PAMF has reviewed the life cycle of items they purchase, their impact to the environment and how they enter our waste stream. A system was created to swap office supplies before purchasing new. Junk mail reduction campaign reduced the quantity of junk mail from three bins a week to one bin a month. Over half a million dollars in used medical equipment has been donated to local charities and international NGOs. Scanning and e-faxing have reduced paper usage by 30% in some areas. PAMF partners with many vendors who are also Green Business Certified, including construction, catering and janitorial vendors. In order to reduce Greenhouse gases, they have added bike racks, bike lockers, installed electric vehicle charging stations at their offices and offer incentives for employees to use alternative commute options.
Each office or department has a designated Green Team to assist with their green efforts. These teams meet throughout the year to gauge progress, address issues, offer support and brainstorm solutions. In the Green Corner of their weekly internal employee e-newsletter they run “spotlights” with green tips and award “green staff stars” to employees who have excelled at contributing to green efforts. Anna-Kim Aleris, who led the coordination of the Green Business Certification at all 5 PAMF sites says this, “We will continue to be dedicated to integrating sustainability into our mission to enhance the well-being of the people in the communities we serve”.
This is just an example of the many businesses that have gone above and beyond to conserve resources and green their business practices. If you are a business owner we would like to invite to participate and if you are a resident of the County we ask you to support your local Green Businesses.