Health Care

EPA aid to reduce Via Christi costs

The Pollution Prevention Institute, which offers source reduction technical assistance to the health care and hospitality industries, is getting $61,882 from the Environmental Protection Agency and others to continue its work.

Via Christi Health is among the partners in the project.

The nonprofit program links engineering and environmental sciences students from Kansas State University with businesses and industries, to help them save money and reduce their carbon footprint through energy-savings efforts.

The grant money will be used to help fund five strategies: building and expanding a health care advisory board; providing direct technical assistance through an internship program; delivering health care webinars and workshops; supporting the EPA Region 7 Mercury Task Force; and launching a green lodging pilot program to recruit business participation, provide interns and prepare a foundation for a comprehensive green lodging program in 2011.

The project is expected to result in reductions of 200,000 pounds of solid wastes, 1,000 pounds of hazardous medical wastes and 5,000 grams of mercury, as well as energy savings of 3.4 billion BTUs and cost savings of $300,000.

Via Christi began working with one of the student interns in 2007 and has seen significant savings as a result, spokesmen have said.

Every dollar a nonprofit health care organization saves on energy has the equivalent impact on the bottom line as increasing revenue by $20, according to the Energy Star for Healthcare Web site. For-profit hospitals can boost earnings per share by a penny if they reduce energy costs by 5 percent.

Among the partners in the Pollution Prevention Institute project in addition to Via Christi are Associated Purchasing Services, Hays Medical Center, Hampton Inn & Suites, Pollution Prevention Resource Information Network, Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Veterans Administration and Kansas City Area Healthcare Engineers.

The grant was one of two announced by EPA. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment will receive $98,450 from EPA and provide matching funds for a total of $209,627 directed at providing multimedia pollution prevention technical assistance.