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Healthcare Sector Leaders Urge Obama, Congress to Invest in Alternative Energy and Green Jobs in Healthcare
Date:2/2/2009

Ask for Provisions in Stimulus Package to Help Hospitals Become Sustainable

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 57,000 new jobs, 26,800 of which will be new clean energy jobs, could be created in the United States through the Renewable Energy and Green Healthcare Jobs Initiative offered to Congress and the Administration by Health Care Without Harm, Practice Greenhealth and Global Health and Safety Initiative. The health sector's proposed Initiative calls for $2 billion to be directed through the Economic Stimulus Package for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for the nation's hospitals and health care facilities.

"This initiative is a tremendous opportunity to create green jobs, reduce healthcare costs, and invest in the health of our communities and our environment," stated Gary Cohen, Co-Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm. "It builds on the work already underway by the health community to reduce its environmental footprint, and through this effort we can galvanize the enormous purchasing power of hospitals to drive the economy toward renewable energy sources."

Health care has the second most energy intensive buildings per square foot in the country. Under the Initiative, enough new clean electric generating capacity would be installed in hospitals and other health facilities to eliminate the need for 4,000 barrels of oil per day and to prevent more than 890,000 tons of carbon emissions annually. Pollutants from non-renewable energy generation are associated with a wide range of environmental and health issues, including chronic health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and other lung conditions. Reducing the consumption of energy in these facilities would result in a savings of more than $10 million in direct annual medical costs and over $87 million in annual secondary costs through the prevention of illness and disease associated with fossil fuel emissions.

Health Care Without Harm has for 13 years led a "greening" movement in the health industry. This little-known voluntary effort has hundreds of the nation's leading hospitals and health facilities engaged in efforts to reduce their environmental footprint. In 2008, Health Care Without Harm created Practice Greenhealth, a rapidly-growing membership organization of health care facilities seeking information on developing sustainable operations.

"Although our members are working at all levels to become more ecologically sound, the current economic situation is stalling their ability to invest in new energy efficient building or installation of alternative energies" said Bob Jarboe, executive director of Practice Greenhealth. "Federal assistance would help us re-start some of these projects that have been planned but cannot proceed due to inability to obtain loans, funding cutbacks and other issues widespread in the current economy."

Both organizations also participate in the Global Health and Safety Initiative (GHSI), whose goal is to facilitate evidence-based improvements that advance patient and worker safety and environmental sustainability. "Health care is a great place to invest funds for energy improvements because health care is a growing industry, currently representing more than 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP)," said Bob Eisenman, PhD, executive director of the Global Health and Safety Initiative. "Health care, with a little help, is poised to be a leader in energy improvements and to demonstrate how an industry can improve itself and society."

The health sector leadership is working with the Senate to insert the initiative into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. More information about the Alternative Energy and Green Healthcare Jobs Initiative is at http://www.practicegreenhealth.org/tools/hcee/initiative.

Heath Care without Harm, an international coalition of more than 473 organizations in 52 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. www.noharm.org.

Practice Greenhealth is the nation's leading membership and networking organization for institutions in the healthcare community that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Members include hospitals, healthcare systems, businesses and other stakeholders engaged in the greening of healthcare to improve the health of patients, staff and the environment. www.practicegreenhealth.org.

Global Health and Safety Initiative is a sector wide movement to improve patient, worker and environmental health, safety and sustainability. GHSI is a coalition of the nation's leading healthcare systems, non-profits, group purchasing organizations, academic, government, and other organizations working together to transform the way hospitals build, buy and operate their facilities. www.globalhealthsafety.org.


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SOURCE Health Care Without Harm
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