St. Cloud VA HCS Awarded Top Honor for Leadership in Health Care Sustainability - St. Cloud VA Health Care System
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St. Cloud VA Health Care System


St. Cloud VA HCS Awarded Top Honor for Leadership in Health Care Sustainability

May 21, 2020

In recognition for continuing achievement and innovation in health care sustainability, on May 20 the St. Cloud VA Health Care System received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The award is one of the 25 Environmental Excellence Awards given each year to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the St. Cloud VA has earned the Top 25 distinction.

“In a shifting health care landscape, a focus on sustainability can help build resilience while better protecting the health of patients and the community,” said Gary Cohen, Practice Greenhealth founder. “The St. Cloud VA HCS demonstrates the kind of leadership, innovation, and performance that can drive the entire health sector toward more environmentally responsible practices.”

The 25 hospitals presented with Practice Greenhealth's highest honors exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in health care. Award winners are leading the industry with innovation in sustainability—and have the data and documentation to prove their success. Each year, the competition for these top spots increases as hospitals across the country continue to innovate.

“Our employees and teams are dedicated to our high reliability journey, and our green culture is one more way to ensure that our Veterans receive world class care,” said St. Cloud VA Director Brent Thelen.

Recycling, waste reduction, organics composting, paper conservation, green purchasing, laundry water reuse, LED lighting, renewable energy systems, electric utility vehicles, and use of green space for healthy activities all demonstrate the St. Cloud VA’s commitment to environmental excellence and its dedication to continuous improvement, systematically achieving incremental changes in processes to improve efficiency and quality.

“In recent years, we have made great strides toward reducing our impact on the environment, and we are committed to doing even more. Sustainability efforts lead to operational cost savings so that we can make additional resources available for Veteran care,” said Thelen.

Award winners are chosen among hospital applicants that have the highest scores on the Greenhealth Partner for Change application. Each year, the competition for these top spots increases, as a growing number of facilities are implementing creative, sustainable and implementable practices. 

St. Cloud VA Earns Numerous Circle of Excellence Awards

The St. Cloud VA also was recognized in four out of 10 categories with Circle of Excellence Awards. The Circles of Excellence honor up to 10 of the highest performing hospitals nationwide in each area of sustainability expertise.

These awards highlight hospitals that are pushing the envelope and driving innovation in sustainability performance in each sustainability category. There can be up to 10 designees selected for each Circle of Excellence category.

The St. Cloud VA received Circle of Excellence honors in the following categories:

• Greening the OR: This category honors hospitals for leadership in implementation and innovation in the surgical department. Winners have demonstrated innovative approaches to waste minimization, clinical plastic recycling, reformulation of operating room kits, single-use device reprocessing, use of reusable sterilization cases, and a range of other programs and associated metrics.

• Energy: This category celebrates hospitals that are leading the sector in energy efficiency and strategic energy use planning. Leaders generally have energy managers and written programs to reduce energy use over time. They are tracking energy use intensity and ENERGY STAR performance metrics and sharing details on comprehensive project implementation and staff engagement strategies.

• Water: This category recognizes hospitals for exemplary programs in water conservation and efficiency. These early adopters boast fewer gallons of water consumption per square foot, tracking of implemented conservation projects, written plans to reduce water consumption over time and have water-tracking mechanisms in place.

• Environmentally Preferable Purchasing: This category celebrates the best in environmentally preferable purchasing programs. Facilities are evaluated on their supporting policies, interactions with suppliers, environmentally preferable contracts and use of environmental attributes in requests for proposals and business reviews.

About Practice Greenhealth
Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care membership community whose mission is to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and is a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth visit: