Green Awards and Recognition
VA Announces 2010 Sustainability Achievement Award Winners
This awards program provides Department-level recognition to VA employees and facilities who have demonstrated outstanding environmental stewardship and whose efforts have resulted in significant contributions to the environment. The awards categories include: waste prevention, recycling, green purchasing activities, environmental management systems, high performance/sustainable buildings, reduced fuel consumption and electronics stewardship.
Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s “Waste Watchers” Program
The Martinsburg VA Medical Center’s Nutrition and Food Service Staff developed the “Waste Watchers” program to enhance manual food waste tracking, implement a composting program, assess and develop potential program improvements. The pre-consumer food composting program uses the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Waste Management Hierarchy, adheres to the US Department of Agriculture Food Code and industry guidelines, eliminates potential pest problems, and resulted in an annual diversion of approximately 17 tons of food waste from landfills. In fiscal year 2009, the Nutrition and Food Service staff reduced the cost of food by 11 percent, while maintaining high veteran satisfaction scores for customer service.
Portland VA Medical Center’s recycling education
The Portland VA Medical Center’s Green Environmental Management Systems (GEMS) Team provided employee education on recycling and waste diversion. Training and outreach resources include a mandatory web-based awareness training for employees, an informational website, newsletters, Earth Day events, and a “Bio-Man” video that educates employees on biohazardous waste. The medical center partnered with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Diesel project and had emissions-lowering devises installed on the facility’s diesel vehicles. Other community partners include the Portland Parks and Recreation, Friends of Terwilliger, and the Boy Scouts of America. The GEMS Team identified recycling and waste diversion opportunities; incorporated recycled materials into interior design and construction projects; partnered with other governmental and community organizations; and encouraged the use of carpools and public transportation. Through active participation of the employees, the medical center has managed to reduce medical waste by 20.3 percent, recycle 1968 pounds of batteries, reduce energy use and reduce waste disposal costs.
Oscar H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s innovative recycling
The Oscar H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s GEMS Team developed new recycling opportunities that were previously unavailable in rural areas. The categories of items recycled expanded from white paper, batteries and fluorescent light bulbs, to include cardboard, pallets, scrap metal, cooking grease, compostable items, and aluminum cans. The facility purchased Xylene recycling equipment, which saves the medical center approximately $7,500 annually and reduces the facility’s hazardous waste disposal by approximately 91 percent. Through employee education and periodic audits, this facility managed to reduce regulated medical waste by 24 percent, creating an annual cost savings of approximately $6,000. The medical center estimates that it has achieved a 54 percent total diversion rate of solid waste from landfills.