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Why sustainability is at the heart of health



Luc Lenaerts

A hospital isn’t simply a place where the sick are nursed back to health, or where the partnership of medical technology and human expertise help us to get well. A hospital is, in fact, a potent symbol of society – and an indicator of how we want society to develop.


This is what makes the annual CleanMed conferences such exciting forums. This year, Philips is sponsoring the American convention in Portland, Oregon. More than 1,000 participants from across the globe convene to show how governments, medical institutions and private enterprise are transforming society through the way we care for citizens.


Environmental sustainability strategies are at the core of such transformation. Care providers are increasingly convinced that such an approach makes good business sense, protects our planet’s natural resources and helps to provide an unrivalled standard of care.


In terms of financial benefits, a recent benchmark report from Practice Greenhealth analyzed data from 223 hospitals. It showed that these institutions could save $11m through green initiatives, such as reducing waste and energy use. It’s little wonder that 92 per cent of these hospitals had appointed an executive champion for environmental issues.


For example, Sweden’s Karolinska University Hospital has, in association with Philips, integrated sustainability into all aspects of its new buildings. With its 550 internal environmental ambassadors, the hospital is committed to conserving natural resources and reducing its carbon footprint whilst promoting health and wellbeing. Features include low-energy designs, a ventilation system that uses less energy, intelligent processing of chemical waste and ensuring materials used in construction are resource-efficient. In time, the hospital hopes all its purchased energy will come from renewable sources.


Hospitals now recognize that part of their mission must be to nurture this kind of environment. The demands of new generations have made that even more imperative, and by listening to their concerns and desires we can effect healthcare changes that are even more meaningful.


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Enacting environmental sustainability projects is something Philips has a justifiably strong reputation for, especially in terms of designing buildings and providing technology, such as our imaging systems but also through our lighting innovations. In the German city of Barmbek, the Asklepios Clinic has reduced its energy consumption by a fifth after replacing its fluorescent tubes with LEDs, which are kinder to the environment because of reduced CO2 emissions and less likely to develop faults. The project has also led to a hospital budget saving of more than 164,000 Euros.


This is why a gathering like CleanMed – during which we are able to interact with some of the world’s most powerful healthcare organizations and individuals – is so vital to our work. This is where we see the genesis of future partnerships, share ideas, learn from each other, find new areas of green procurement and ways to cut costs, and return home empowered to drive the right kind of change across society.


It’s a place where executives are able to make a cogent business case for adopting sustainable projects, where they can allay fears and build support for long-term environmental strategies, and where they can lead the conversations about value creation models that will inspire hospitals to change at a faster rate.


A medical system fit for 21st century needs and making the most of its resources. This is the grand ambition that fuels our innovation process.


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Luc Lenaerts

Luc Lenaerts

Senior Director Sustainability

Luc has a Masters in Public Administration and has been with Philips since 1996. Luc drives the Philips Green Healthcare program and works with the Philips businesses on supporting programs such as Product EcoDesign, Green Services Development and Green Operations.


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