VA Recognizes Employees for Contributions to Sustainability, Improved Performance & Cost-Savings
January 5, 2017
VA Sustainability Achievement Awards and VA Green Routine Awards provide Department-level recognition to VA employees and facilities whose efforts have resulted in significant contributions to environmental sustainability at VA. This annual recognition for employees going above and beyond started in 2010. These employees have made valuable and inspiring contributions to VA with projects that reduce environmental impact while also often helping VA better serve its mission and reduce costs.
Sustainability Achievement Awards recognize VA professionals in the fields of energy, environment, or fleet. Green Routine Awards recognize VA employees who have developed or significantly contributed to grassroots efforts, outside of their daily duties, to encourage sustainable practices at their workplace.
Sustainability Achievement Awards
Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
VISN 18 energy managers determined there was a significant energy savings opportunity through additional training in use of their energy management software. Energy Manager Margaret Bowman coordinated a course sponsored by VA Acquisition Academy’s Facilities Management School (VAAA-FMS). This one-week, hands-on course was given twice over two consecutive weeks to allow each of the six Southwestern facilities to participate with minimal impact to hospital operations, training a total of 24 VA personnel.
Kansas City VA Medical Center
Christopher McNown and Marsha Leigh
Xylene and alcohol are routinely used in the analysis of patient samples. Solvent reclamation enabled the laboratory to recover pure solvent for reuse. This resulted in a 90% and 100% reduction in the amount of new xylene and alcohol purchased respectively, as the solvents can be reclaimed and reused virtually indefinitely. This in turn reduces solvent purchase costs 90-100% and preserves natural resources impacted during solvent manufacture.
James E. Van Zandt Medical Center, Altoona, PA
Tim encouraged VA medical centers to complete the application for Practice GreenHealth awards, which provide recognition for excellence in sustainable healthcare. The application process teaches staff about their current environmental impact, and helps to both identify the effectiveness of current sustainable projects and identify future projects. The effort included Tim leading many online meetings with his peers nationally, as well as one-on-one support to individuals. His efforts were a major driver in the near-quadrupling of VA facility awards (to a total of 79 in 2016), including a System for Change Award for the entire Veterans Health Administration. This effort not only improved facility environmental management, but brought much appreciated recognition to facilities across the nation.
Waste Training, St. Cloud VA Health Care System
Mary Wenck and Kristy Reinke
This project initiated a hands-on training to all new nurses on the importance of sorting waste streams and putting waste in the proper place for regulatory, environmental and cost reduction reasons. It incorporated mentoring and recurring training at skills fairs. The project resulted in a reduction of over 1,000 pounds of hazardous waste and $12,000 in hazardous waste disposal costs, while infectious waste was reduced by 2.5 tons at a cost savings of $2,100.
Green Purchasing Website, Office of Acquisition and Logistics
In 2015, Barbara Matos took the initiative to completely update the Office of Acquisition and Logistics/Procurement Policy Service (OAL/PPS) Green Purchasing Program (GPP) website to reflect changes pursuant to new Executive Order (EO) 13693, Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade. At the same time, she gave the website a totally new look by incorporating distinctive graphics and improving navigation. The upgraded GPP website features pages on the latest in green purchasing mandates, policy and guidance, components of the Federal Green Purchasing Program, information on greening the acquisition process, Green Purchasing News (GPN) and GPN archives, training and a host of green purchasing resources and tools.
Paper Conservation, St. Cloud VA Health Care System
Mary Wenck and Health Care System Staff
Employees within the medical center service lines developed and implemented service-specific paper reduction action plans. The actions plans were shared in the facility weekly newsletter to challenge, motivate and engage all staff to reduce paper use. Quarterly metrics were shared with supervisors who in turn shared the metrics with staff. These efforts resulted in a reduction in paper use by 1.83 tons, reducing costs by $2,738.
Green Routine Awards
Perry Point VA Medical Center
Jesse Ballard & Mary Ellen Ward
In a county where solid waste is designated for the landfill, these project leaders have expanded from only recycling cardboard to initiating a single-stream recycling program to reduce this landfill waste. The facility has also installed a compactor to compress food and organic waste, which is then taken to a Veteran-owned composting facility.
Eye Clinic Efficiency
Central Alabama VA Health Care System
Eye Clinic Chief, Staff, & Judy Sumner and Patrick Heine
The Eye Clinic has removed the need to spend over $480 per month per facility by using a computerized system for imaging, visual field, and fundus photography instruments. This reduced the cost and environmental impact of ink, paper, and printer energy use. More importantly, the new process improved Veteran care through the improved availability of the images, reducing return visits and improving patient education.
LED Light Replacement
James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center
Kevin Westover, and Kenneth Colpetzer
Facility electricians have on their own initiative begun replacing old lighting systems with LED lights. They have recognized the advantages of reduced hazardous waste (mercury, CFCs), energy savings, increased lifespan and thus reduced labor costs, heat reduction, and LED recycling opportunities.
VA Butler Healthcare
VA Butler Nutrition & Food Services
The Butler VAMC has reduced solid waste from the kitchen food service by about 30% in less than a year. The kitchen transitioned to cooking on-demand based on patient requests, which increased patient satisfaction while reducing wasted food significantly. Food service staff provided input and demonstrated leadership through testing this new approach.
Trash Bin Reduction
St. Cloud VA Health Care System
Todd Muehlbauer, EMS Chief and Housekeeping Staff
Environmental services housekeeping staff have transitioned from one plastic-lined garbage can per desk, to having one can when several desks share one area.
This change saves time and money, while preventing thousands of plastic garbage bags from ending up in the waste stream.
Honorable Mention—Water Saving
St. Cloud VA Health Care System
The St. Cloud VA Health Care system installed water saving fixtures in three of its buildings. The buildings house Long Term Care Veterans and Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program Veterans. Toilets, urinals, shower heads and faucets were replaced with water saving fixtures, with estimated savings of 500,000 gallons of water annually.
Honorable Mention—Battery Recycling
Salt Lake City VA Medical Center
Sara Prosser & Jeffrey Griffith
Through this project, batteries are now recycled by a vendor at no cost to the government.
This significantly reduces costs from a prior contract, which charged by the pound for battery recycling, saving $3,750 in FY 2015.