Children’s Health is committed to making life better for children now and in the future by promoting sustainable practices and creating healthier facilities through safer products, reduced air emissions, less waste, and efficient use of energy and water.
Our commitment to our environment is reflected in our values:
- Selfless Service – We are an earth-friendly healthcare system, reducing our environmental impact and supporting a healthy community with an enthusiastic spirit.
- Passionate Advocacy – We sustain our pediatric health system through innovation, empowerment, and accountability for the children we serve today and for generations to come.
- Commitment to Excellence – We are true leaders of change who continue to explore and implement novel sustainability practices to promote a culture of exemplary environmental performance.
- Unwavering Integrity – We are transparent, authentic, and honest in our sustainability journey. We recognize that our path is challenging, and we are committed to creating a better planet, community partner, and workplace as a result of our efforts.
“Our mission is to make life better for children, and we have a responsibility to help give children the right start in a healthy environment. Reducing our carbon footprint directly contributes to that mission and leaves a healthier planet for future generations.”
President and Chief Executive Officer
Current Sustainability Initiatives
The only hospital in North Texas ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Health is one of the largest health care system users of renewable energy in the nation and is on track to become the largest renewable electricity user among pediatric health care providers by 2025.
Children’s Health currently relies on renewable energy for 50 percent, or 50,000 megawatt-hours, of the health system's total electricity to offset the environmental impact that would otherwise occur as a result of non-renewable fossil fuel use. This is equivalent to removing more than 53 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year from the environment. For perspective, the average Texas home uses 14.5 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, so the commitment to renewable electricity is equivalent to more than 3,400 average Texas homes going 100 percent green.
As an EPA Green Power Partner, Children’s Health committed to using 50 percent renewable energy beginning May 1, 2020, and into June 2025. This is predicted to set Children’s Health as the No. 1 ranked hospital in Texas for annual purchases of renewable energy, and the largest user of renewables by any pediatric hospital in the U.S.
- Recent infrastructure projects have upgraded facility roofs to reflective membrane type to reduce heat gain into the building. In addition, the Children’s Health design and construction standards were updated to require all new roofs to be reflective roofing. Roofs that reflect heat lessen the load on the HVAC systems, helping equipment last longer and lower energy bills.
- Both Dallas and Plano campuses have resealed building exteriors to reduce air leakage. Air leaking through the building envelope (outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings) wastes energy and increases utility costs. Resealing the exterior helps our facilities stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This also reduces noise from outside, decreases infiltration, and improves humidity control.
- In 2020, we installed new “hydration stations” with bottle fillers at each of our water fountains across all campuses to reduce the use of plastic water bottles, provide hands-free access, and encourage our patients, families and employees to drink more water instead of sugary beverages. Studies have found sugar-sweetened beverages to be highly linked with obesity and diabetes, especially in children and young adults. Fresh water flushes out toxins, increases muscle efficiency, and is better for our health!
Site / Landscaping
- The Gardens at Plano are on the east side of the hospital and currently have raised beds with herbs and vegetables as well as native and adaptive plants in two berms.
- A little history: In 2014, four raised vegetable beds were sponsored by an Aggie Moms Group. In 2015, the Plano Garden Club decided to plant wildflowers in the field between the vegetable beds and White Rock Creek. October 2015 was the new planting party with volunteers from PepsiCo. Volunteers from the Plano Garden Club and the Blackland Prairie Master Naturalists planted grasses and perennials along the berms in early 2016. New raised beds were built in 2017 and continue to be maintained by both employees and volunteers.
- The Garden has been registered as a Certified Monarch Waystation by the Monarch Watch and a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the World Wildlife Foundation.
- The Plano Garden Club continues to maintain the edible gardens. Since 2018, Eating Disorder patients have planted spring and fall vegetables, tended the herb plot, and witnessed many insects and animals around the garden. They even reap the benefits of their work – the gardens produce is harvested and consumed by Eating Disorder patients!
- We recently relandscaped the Plano hospital’s cafeteria courtyard with water conservation as the focal point. By removing a water feature and adding boulders and rocks, we created a beautiful dry rock bed. We also installed plant material around the rock features that requires less watering. Synthetic turf was added around those areas with no irrigation required, giving the courtyard a great natural look with less water, less maintenance and cost, and a therapeutic environment for our patients and families.
- Our landscape contractors use battery-operated leaf blowers in all the entrance areas at all Children’s-owned campuses, reducing gas usage and fumes in public areas. Within the next five years, we hope to have our landscape contractors using 100% battery-operated equipment.
- Since the fall of 2020, Children’s landscape contractors began applying environmentally friendly post-emergent for weed control in our landscape areas.
- In 2019 we designed and installed an environmentally friendly landscape for the new Emergency Room (ER) at the Dallas hospital with water conservation as the driving force. We installed plant material with low water requirements and synthetic turf throughout the area.
- Have you ever wondered about the horses at the Plano campus? These unofficial mascots live on campus to support the agricultural exemption for the property. They are owned and managed by a vendor.
- The Dallas hospital’s emergency power system is served by five 1500kW diesel engine generators. These were installed before the EPA’s more stringent regulations for emissions went into effect. Children’s proactively installed catalytic converters on each exhaust system to reduce toxic emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and non-methane hydrocarbons, even though the exhaust systems were grandfathered in at a lower tier level.
- A 5-kW solar photovoltaic panel array was installed on the roof of the Remote A building in Dallas to harness the sun’s energy and feed it directly back into the normal power system. The power generated directly offsets the electricity provided from the utility company.
- In 2019, Children’s Health introduced new System-wide design and construction guidelines. The new standards require low wattage LED lighting fixtures for all new construction and renovation projects, and digital-networked lighting controls to further reduce energy consumption.
- In 2020, all existing fluorescent and induction lighting fixtures throughout each parking garage on the Dallas Campus were replaced with energy-efficient LED fixtures with embedded lighting controls. The estimated energy reduction saves more than $24,000 per year, and 575,673 pounds of coal from being burned. Their long life ensures that our Engineering team will not need to replace the fixtures for many years, decreasing our operating expenses and yearly maintenance.
- All parking lot lighting at the Plano Campus was updated to energy efficient LED fixtures in 2020. The new fixtures provide more lumens per watt, providing better illumination. Exterior areas feel safer and have improved color rendering.
- We replaced decorative cold cathode lighting around the perimeter of the hospital and parking garages at the Dallas campus with energy efficient LEDs.
- LED’s use less energy, provide higher light output, require less maintenance, and have a longer life. They also are not affected by vibration, turn on instantly, and perform well in cold temperatures, making them ideal for exterior applications. Their long life ensures that our Engineering team will not need to replace the fixtures for many years, decreasing our operating expenses and yearly maintenance.
- Oxygen trim was added to boiler exhaust systems in Dallas to increase the efficiency of operation, which reduces fuel consumption resulting in energy savings as well as a reduction in emissions to the atmosphere.
- Retro-commissioning is the process of verifying operation of existing systems to make sure they are operating appropriately and as efficiently as possible. During retro-commissioning activities, additional energy savings strategies are added to optimize equipment operation and reduce energy consumption.
- In 2019, twenty-two air handlers serving patient care were retro-commissioned and additional energy savings control strategies were added including discharge air temperature reset and fan static pressure reset. These upgrades will improve energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and reduce overall peak demand.
- Heating hot water systems were retro-commissioned and heating water temperature reset schedules were added to reduce energy consumption and to increase operational efficiency of condensing boiler by returning lower temperature water.
- Recommissioned chilled water plants to increase operational efficiency resulting in reduced energy consumption of the plant.
- Installed variable frequency drives on the primary chilled water loop at the Dallas campus to allow the primary loop to operate at variable speed. By reducing motor speeds to match the needs of the application, the VFDs significantly save energy and reduce operating costs.
- In 2020, an energy optimization module was added to the building management systems to increase overall operational efficiency and annual guaranteed energy savings. The power saved from our chiller plant optimization efforts can power 100 homes for an entire year!
- Upgraded two chillers to newer-technology magnetic bearing chillers and added condenser water system reset to maximize the efficiency of the new chillers.
- Retrofitted air handlers with V-bank ultraviolet lamps to reduce cooling coil build-up resulting in better indoor air quality and reduction of system fan energy consumption.
- Replaced multiple air handlers with fan array units which have a higher operational efficiency and reduced power consumption. A fan array is a bank of smaller fans that operate year-round near their peak efficiency and consume 5-10% less energy than traditional large air handler fans.
- Every Friday at the Dallas campus, the LiveWell Farmer’s Market offers team members the opportunity to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. In addition to the Dallas campus, the Farmer’s Market visits Our Children’s House Dallas.
- We eliminated Styrofoam and switched to biodegradable paper carry-out containers made from sugarcane. These natural containers will break down within 45-90 days in a commercial composting facility.
- We recently switched to compostable straws in retail locations.
Greening the OR
- Nationally, more than 20-30% of a hospital’s waste volume is generated in the Operating Room. Since 2013, Children’s Health has participated in reprocessing single-use medical devices, diverting them from waste streams. Products that are reprocessed include pulse-oximeters, burrs/bits/blades, compression sleeves and blood pressure cuffs, tourniquet cuffs, and many operating room tools.
- Reprocessing these items also saves money – we reduce our waste and can purchase the reprocessed items at a lower cost than brand new. The FDA regulates the reprocessing companies to ensure that all products meet appropriate standards.
- In 2020, 6,760 pounds of products were reprocessed instead of going to the landfill as waste. We also surpassed 2019 savings ($384,630) with a savings of $390,075 in 2020 by buying back reprocessed products versus new.
- Children’s Health is an active participant in Stryker’s Products for the Planet program. This program provides hospitals the opportunity to restore National Forests by achieving annual collection goals for single-use devices. Over the years, we have contributed more than 30 trees to National Forest Foundation restoration efforts across the country.
- Operating rooms can consume three to six times more energy per square foot than anywhere else in the facility due to stringent heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) requirements. Since 2020, we have added HVAC nighttime setback sequencing to operating rooms to reduce air exchanges while rooms are not in use. In 2020 the Plano campus was upgraded with setback sequencing, and upgrades are currently in progress at the Dallas campus.
- In 2020, a project at the Dallas campus upgraded all lighting booms (surgical lights) to energy efficient LED lamps.
- Blue wrap, made from polypropylene plastic, is used for wrapping surgical instruments for sterilization. The U.S. EPA estimates that blue wrap accounts for 19 percent of all operating room waste. Our Plano campus currently recycles this blue wrap, and Dallas is soon to follow this year, diverting non-biodegradable waste from landfills.
- We use hard cases for surgical instrument sterilization instead of disposable, reducing unnecessary waste.
- Current goals include evaluating reusable suction canisters instead of disposable and segregating and recycling waste from operating room supplies.
- We have completed the installation of a parking guidance system in all three of our Dallas campus parking garages. This parking guidance system helps our patients/visitors/employees find the first available parking spaces and reduces the need for a driver to circle the garage looking for parking. This reduces the traffic, which reduces greenhouse emissions as well as reducing our carbon footprint.
- We have a new Parking Access and Revenue Control (PARC) system that will help provide a “frictionless” experience for our patients, visitors, and employees. The new parking equipment will be integrated with License Plate Technology (LPR). This system will help reduce vehicular traffic build up at both the entrances and exits to our parking facilities, thus reducing greenhouse emissions and our carbon footprint. It will also allow the Parking and Transportation department to use the vehicle’s license plate as a permit, reducing the need to purchase permits for employees saving both resources and funding.
- Our Security department has recently purchased three electric hybrid vehicles to help reduce the cost and use of gas and reduce greenhouse gases. In turn, we also aim to reduce the number of gas vehicles in our fleet and replace them with electric/hybrid vehicles to lessen the system’s carbon footprint. The goal is to replace 18 of its current fleet of 58 vehicles with electric/hybrid vehicles by 2024.
- Children’s Health also wants to lessen the impact of its company vehicles through use of GPS Integration. By installing GPS tracking devices on all Children’s-owned and operated vehicles, we will be able to monitor and track fuel consumption, idling time, driver safety and performance, and driver training. From this data, we can implement programs to reduce idling times and provide more efficient routes to save on fuel and greenhouse emissions.
- Added electric vehicle charging stations to support the use of electric vehicles at our Dallas, Plano, and Trinity Towers locations. We currently have a total of 24 EV charging stations.
- We painted the underside (rooftop) and walls of each level within our Emergency parking garage to increase lighting levels through improved reflectivity (approximately 15%) without increasing energy consumption.
- We have installed bicycle racks to promote the use of alternative transportation on our Dallas campus. We currently have three bicycle storage areas located inside our parking structures.
- We added another shuttle route for our patients, visitors, and employees to use at the Dallas campus to help promote the “park once” concept. The shuttle service helps people move about our campus without using their personal vehicles, reducing traffic congestion within our campus. We also provide a shuttle service to a public transportation hub, providing the “last mile” service to help promote public transportation use. This helps to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles coming to our campus.
- Working in conjunction with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), new shelters have been provided for our public transportation stops on our Plano campuses to help support the use of alternative transportation.
- We are looking to implement a pilot program that would have an electric Autonomous Vehicle (AV) transporting patients, visitors, and employees around our Plano campus. This would also include connectivity with public transportation.
- Lastly, Children’s Health is looking to redesign its Specialty Center Dallas Surface Parking Lot with more sustainable elements, including a “rain garden,” or retention area, to assist in controlling rainwater run-off.
- Reducing waste and increasing recycling are key components of our Environmental Services program at Children’s Health. Our goals are centered on reducing regulated medical waste and increasing recycling pounds across all our campuses. In 2020, we recycled 785 tons of waste, an increase of more than 72% from our 2019 figures.
- In 2020, we eliminated Styrofoam containers in Food Service operations, and provided biodegradable containers for salads and sandwiches, in addition to paper straws
- Environmental Services has collected and recycled cardboard for many years, and it is currently the main contributor to our recycling rate. Team members can leave flattened cardboard near a community trash bin or outside their office door and EVS will collect it for recycling.
- Materials and supplies are delivered on pallets every day to Children’s Health. Our Supply Chain Distribution Center uses reusable pallets to move material to and from the warehouse each day. Standard wooden pallets are picked up by a vendor and put back into the pallet market instead of being sent to the landfill.
- Partnering with Stericycle, we reuse sharps containers. Robots empty the sharps containers, and the mixture is sterilized, then disposed. But the containers can be reused many times. With Stericycle we save more than 34,600 disposable sharps containers each year!
- Since 2018, we have been recycling scrap metal. Appliances like refrigerators have the refrigerant removed and then are recycled as scrap. Since 2018, we have recycled more than 45,000 pounds of scrap metal!
- All paper that is placed in our secure document shred bins is recycled by Shred-It. In 2020, more than 653 tons of paper was diverted from the landfill and recycled, an increase of 12% over 2019.
- Additional initiatives currently being evaluated are desk-side recycling of paper and plastics, changing from disposable isolation gowns to reusable, and increased use of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals and processes.
- We upgraded water treatment on condenser water systems to optimize cooling tower evaporation cycles, which reduces the make-up water consumption of the cooling towers. By softening the water, we have reduced our water consumption by more than 10% and saved over 9,000,000 gallons of water each year.
- We replaced steam traps and increased the size of the condensate return pumps to reclaim hot condensate to the system. Capturing the steam condensate and using it in place of cold water to feed the boilers can reduce energy expenditures, reduce fuel consumption, and in turn reduce emissions.
- Our Environmental Services team changed from cleaning disinfectant to EPA certified disposable wipes to reduce water usage. The wipes contain no phosphates or phenols, and the active ingredient breaks down to water and oxygen after use.
- We use floor scrubbers with foaming detergent dispensers to reduce water usage. More floor area can be covered with nearly 50% the amount of water compared to traditional methods. By using less water, scrubbers can scrub up to three times longer between dump and fill cycles.