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Upstate wins national award for its sustainability efforts

Upstate wins national award for its sustainability efforts

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate Medical University is the winner of UHc's 2015 Sustainability Award in recognition of its ongoing environmental friendly efforts.  The recognition comes from one of the nation's largest healthcare organizations, UHC, which represents the nation's leading academic medical centers and not-for-proft hospitals. The award was presented Oct. 1, at the UHC Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The award honors Upstate's commitment to sustainability as measured by the following criteria: a demonstrated, continuous commitment to a sustainability strategy; a quantifiable means of measuring and reporting progress toward and achievement of sustainability goals; and a demonstrated commitment to increasing awareness of and communicating about the sustainability program, both among staff/internal stakeholders and throughout the community.

“I am proud of Upstate's national recognition,” said Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Planning Tom Pelis. “Winning this prestigious UHC award reflects on Upstate’s commitment to sustainability and also recognizes the extraordinary work of staff who volunteer their time to promote Think Green and develop its many creative and effective initiatives.”

The 2015 application for the award describes Upstate's rich history of sustainability efforts, which began when Upstate President Gregory Eastwood, MD, launched the university’s first-ever recycling program through the hospital and academic settings in 1997. Since then, Upstate's sustainability program, called “Think Green,” has expanded to include sustainability education; increase employee, visitor, patient and student participation; construction priorities; community involvement and more.

In 2008, the Upstate's Sustainability Task Force was developed and Upstate introduced a Sustainability Vision: “Upstate will become a leader within SUNY and our regional community. Sustainability will be an integral part of Upstate’s culture and as such will be a guiding principal for both routine and strategic decisions going forward.”

In an effort to achieve this vision, Upstate launched a series of task force sustainability principles focusing on fossil fuel consumption, its energy and carbon footprint, supply purchases and management, sustainability participation, energy conservation in construction and its SUNY partnership. These principles are reviewed annually to measure progress and launch new initiatives.

“Upstate’s sustainability program is far more than simply recycling,” said Pelis. “The program raises funds for charitable organizations and also seeks to educate staff, patients, visitors and students on how to focus on sustainability at home.”

Over the past year, Upstate has introduced new ways to implement green initiatives to surpass its sustainability goals. These unique projects have included changes at the patient’s bedside, in the operating rooms, construction processes, education and communication, recycling methods in office spaces, and more. In addition, Upstate continues to work with regional and local partners and vendors to general sustainability programs that benefit the institution and the communities it serves.

UHC, the alliance of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, and VHA, the national health care network of not-for-profit hospitals, combined to form the largest member-owned health care company in the country, last April. The new entity is dedicated to leading health care innovation, creating knowledge, and fostering collaboration to help members thrive. The combined organization includes Novation, the health care services company already jointly owned by VHA and UHC.

To learn more about sustainability at Upstate, visit upstate.edu/green.