Green Gone Wrong

Green is great, but in the rush to achieve sustainable environments, good intentions can often lead to unintended consequences.

Don’t let your organization’s goal of achieving green certification result in a series of health & hygiene compromises.  Bring your infection prevention perspective and experience to the discussion when green, environmental programs impact on patient and caregiver safety.  Doing so will insure that green proposals are done within the context of healthcare’s primary mission…. saving lives trumps saving water and paper. 
 
Avoid low-flow faucets.
Low flow faucets pose a problem to patient safety.  Volume and pressure are an essential component of the wash cycle.  The best way to conserve water in handwashing is not by reducing the volume and flow rate but by reducing the time the water is running.  Reliable touch free faucets are the patient safe “Green” solution.  They deliver effective rapid rinsing – plenty of water when you need it and no water when you don’t need it.  Electronic faucets save wasted water - nearly a gallon of water for each handwash – not essential water.    
 
Avoid air dryers.
They may earn green certification points but bring unintended consequences.  The friction added by using a paper towel is a significant part of the "handwash".  Using air dryers of any type can leave a high level of suspended contaminants in place.  With the CDC reporting the average healthcare handwash at 8-10 seconds the role of paper towels in removing contaminants is crucial.  
Details on how air dryers fail »     
 
Avoid poor paper.
When recycled paper content surpasses its optimal strength and absorbency factors, expect a lowering of handwashing efficacy.  The friction and absorbency provided by paper towels are an essential part of hand cleansing process.
Learn more on quality paper »          
 
Green Certification: The Safe-Sustainable Balance 
Healthcare is resource intensive. Finding the right balance between patient safety, reducing, reusing and recycling is critically important.  The Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities, or SERF, at www.serfgreen.org understands, and can help find, the right balance for your organization.       
 


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