I am excited to announce the return of the Earth Matters Blog! As the new Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Sunnybrook I will be reviving this old blog with a fresh take on Why Earth Matters at Sunnybrook.For my first blog posting, I thought it would be fitting to talk a bit about what brought me here to work for Sunnybrook. For a long time I have been passionate about environmental sustainability and have been working for the past 5 years implementing green design principles and energy efficient operation in the building industry. It has been my experience that people are generally open to green change and are just looking for the right motivation to keep heading down the path of making sustainable choices.
One of the things that has drawn me to the health care industry is the interconnection between health and environment.
Health care buildings and practices have a significant impact on our environment. Hospitals and health services contribute to air and water pollution, they consume energy in heating, cooling, transportation, diagnostics and research. They use high volumes of resources for food services, laundry, and packaging. They generate significant amounts of waste including disposable supplies and also toxic, infectious, and radioactive wastes. Health services also pose unique problems, including the use of pharmaceutical and biological products with complex manufacturing processes, environmentally significant precursors and potentially toxic bodily by-products of medications.
And on the flip side, environmental changes due to escalating human pressure on the global environment are having a significant impact on health care. Increased air pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion and new product development have increased human exposure to ultraviolet radiation, pollutants and toxins resulting in increased health problems such as asthma and cancer. Climate change is known to contribute to increased extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, water shortage, storms and landslides. These extreme events put pressure on health care systems and result in millions of dollars in extra health care costs. Changing climates are further contributing to higher risk of infectious diseases, reduced food yields and depletion of natural medicines.Through this blog, I’ll be exploring the links between environmental sustainability and human health. To shed light on sustainability issues and uncover what motivates Sunnybrook staff and our community to continue to implement changes towards a more environmentally friendly and healthy hospital. So please feel free to follow my blog, join the conversation and share with friends and colleagues.