Hospitals and research facilities like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are extremely resource intensive. Providing patient care and improving our understanding of disease require a significant use of energy and materials and produce a considerable amount of waste. Finding innovative strategies to address these issues holds the potential for us to limit wasteful use of our resources and reduce our impact on the environment.
Recognizing the potential to operate in a more environmentally sustainable manner, Memorial Sloan Kettering established a Green Team in 2009 to identify opportunities to reduce waste and conserve resources. Led by a committee of 20 managers and directors from across the Center, each department has a Green Team representative to raise awareness and encourage staff participation in sustainability initiatives. Working groups have been created to address issues such as reducing the amount of paper we use and finding ways to make our operating rooms and labs more environmentally friendly. Our programs continue to develop, under the idea that every staff member can play a role in our efforts to create a sustainable work environment.
As part of the landmark sustainability agenda PlaNYC, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg challenged local hospitals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2019. As a proud participant in the Hospital Challenge, Memorial Sloan Kettering has identified and implemented a variety of energy conservation measures such as increasing the efficiency of our heating and cooling systems, installing energy-efficient lighting, and shutting off computers when they are not in use.
Our achievements to date include:
- Installing upgraded controls to heating and cooling systems to allow facility operators to manage the systems more efficiently
- Installing energy-efficient bulbs and motion sensors to shut off lights when areas are not in use
- Leading a successful Center-wide initiative to encourage staff to turn off their computers at night, with 90 percent of eligible computers currently shut down every night
The US Environmental Protection Agency encourages us all to conserve resources and manage materials and waste. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we encourage the recycling of paper, bottles, and cans throughout our administrative, clinical, and research areas.
Our recycling programs also include:
- Sending electronic waste to a designated electronics recycling facility
- Routing food scraps from the kitchen to a composting facility
- Working with the Doe Fund to collect used fryer oil from the kitchen for reprocessing into biodiesel fuel
All hospitals and research facilities, particularly one as large as we are, create waste. Initiatives to reduce waste include:
- Encouraging staff to print double sided
- Identifying opportunities to eliminate printing when possible
- Working with suppliers to reduce packaging waste
- Serving New York City tap water at events and meetings instead of individual bottled water
Wherever possible, Memorial Sloan Kettering now uses environmentally friendly, nontoxic cleaners. Our environmental services department continues to identify opportunities to increase the use of eco-friendly products around campus. Initiatives include:
- Using certified green products, including our all-purpose cleaner
- Using microfiber mops, which significantly reduces the amount of water and chemicals needed to clean floors effectively
In our cafeteria and food service meals, we regularly incorporate locally grown fruits and vegetables. During the summer we host a monthly farmers’ market in the cafeteria for staff and visitors. In addition, whenever possible we select fish according to the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. Our food services department continuously works to identify opportunities to reduce waste and conserve energy, including adding more recycling stations in the cafeteria and installing energy-saving devices on vending machines.
Memorial Sloan Kettering has partnered with the AFYA Foundation to collect medical and surgical supplies that can no longer be used within the Center. AFYA ships these devices to underserved communities across the world, including to Haiti and countries in Africa. Memorial Sloan Kettering was honored for its donations program at AFYA’s Inaugural Benefit Awards Dinner in February 2012.
In recognition of our continued efforts to maintain an environmentally responsible healthcare facility, Memorial Sloan Kettering received a 2015 “Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award” from Practice Greenhealth, an organization that promotes environmental stewardship and sustainability excellence in healthcare institutions. The award identifies us as one of the country’s top 25 hospitals in terms of sustainability practices – the first time a New York City hospital has been honored in this category.
MSK Westchester in West Harrison is our first location to achieve US Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for environmental sustainability. LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. Some of the key factors at West Harrison that led to this impressive designation include plumbing fixtures designed to conserve water; the use of low VOC-emitting paints, adhesives, sealants, and flooring; the use of non-PVC and recycled materials; reserved parking for low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles; and more.