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Boise VA Medical Center

 

Green Environmental Management System (GEMS)

Boise VAMC Green Environmental Management System (GEMS)

*The Boise VAMC GEMS is a 2016 and 2017 Practice Green Health Emerald Award winner!

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to delivering quality health care to our nation’s veterans.  Recognizing that accomplishing this mission includes a great deal of fiscal accountability, the VA is committed to lessening environmental risk factors and associated expenses by focusing on new ways to prevent pollution, reduce waste,  and conserve natural and cultural resources.  Following the VA lead, the Boise VAMC is employing processes to affirm that environmental accountability is integrated into day–to-day decision-making and long-term planning.

The Boise VAMC began the implementation of our facility’s Green Environmental Management System (GEMS) April of 2005 by establishing the Boise VA Medical Center GEMS policy.  This policy is the framework to integrate healthy environmental practices into the overall management of the Boise VA Medical Center and the Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Twin Falls, Mtn. Home, Caldwell, Salmon and Burns. The policy emphasizes the importance of compliance to federal, state, and local regulations; encourages pollution prevention strategies whenever possible; and focuses on continued improvement on environmental issues.

Through the GEMS Committee, the Boise VA Medical Center strives to reduce waste, reduce quantity of toxic and hazardous chemical and materials acquired, used or disposed of, increase diversion of solid waste by recycling; and use sustainable environmental practices (acquisition of bio-based, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient and recycled-content products).  

Since the implementation of GEMS at our facility, the following changes have been made to reduce our facility’s impact on the environment.

Our electrical consumption has been reduced through two facility-wide projects: (1) the installation of direct digital controls on the facility heating and cooling system and (2) the installation of more energy efficient lighting. The use of petroleum fuel has been reduced by utilizing electric carts for on-site construction and maintenance activities.  Waste sorting practices have changed that greatly reduced the amount of waste treated as regulated medical waste by our facility.  New outpatient clinics have been opened to reduce the distance our patients have to drive to obtain medical care.  Our facility provides a covered bike shelter and an adequate supply of bike racks to meet the needs of employees computing to work via bicycle.  The facility supports the Ada County Commuterride program providing incentives for employees to use the program and parking places for Communterride vans. The quantity of solid waste going to the landfill has been reduced by expanding our recycling program. The materials recycled by our facility currently includes: all batteries, plastics, metals, mixed paper, electronic equipment (computers, cell phones, TVs computer software devices, CDs, floppy disks and flash drives), fluorescent tubes, cardboard, toner cartridges and wood pallets. New equipment, utilized by surgery, reduced the quantities of regulated medical waste by removing vacuum containers from the surgery waste stream.   

The GEMS process is seen as a major step in continuing the VA tradition of ensuring environmental compliance and is a component in long range planning, purchasing and operating decisions whenever possible.
Our sustainability goals for 2016 include: 1. Continue to increase use of LED lighting 2. Reduce usage of styrofoam disposables 3. Reduce hazardous waste disposal ex. expired hand sanitizers.

Green Environmental Management Systems (GEMS) POLICY: 

a.   The mission of the Boise Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is to deliver quality health care to the nation’s Veterans.  In order to accomplish this mission, the VAMC recognizes that it must operate so as to protect both the environment and the health and safety of patients, employees, and visitors.  This memorandum establishes a governing environmental policy to accomplish this mission.

b.   In accomplishing its mission of providing quality health care to the nation’s Veterans, it is this VAMC’s policy to:

(1)  Develop and implement a VA Medical Center GEMS that will meet both the requirements of applicable environmental Executive Orders and the guidance provided by VHA.

(2)  Be a good steward of the environment by complying with federal, state, and local environmental laws and other requirements; preventing pollution; minimizing waste; conserving cultural and natural resources; and continually improving environmental programs.

(3)  Utilize sustainable practices to eliminate, minimize, or mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

(4)  Evaluate the operation of the VAMC to incorporate actions into facility planning and procedures to reduce environmental vulnerabilities.

(5)  Integrate pollution prevention, waste minimization, resource conservation, and environmental compliance into VAMC operations, purchasing, planning, and decision-making wherever practical.  Source reduction is the pollution prevention method of choice, followed by recycling, treatment of wastes, and proper disposal.

(6)  Use natural resources efficiently and maintain and protect plant and wildlife habitat consistent with the VAMC’s mission. 

(7)  Recognize that the development and construction at the VAMC must consider the unique conditions of the facility’s environment.

(8)  Train VAMC staff to carry out the environmental responsibilities of their positions as needed.

(9)  Solicit input, as appropriate, from stakeholders including staff, patients, visitors, and the local residents.

For additional information concerning the Boise VAMC GEMS program, please contact Belinda Corbet, GEMS Coordinator at 208-422-1000 X7070 or via email at belinda.corbet@va.gov.