Water conservation is probably the least likely thing to think about when going to the doctor or hospital. However, did you know that nearly 350 gallons of water is used per patient every day in the United States’ health care facilities?
Current water usage in these facilities makes up 7% of all commercial water use. For centuries, water has been vital to clean medical procedures, and the same holds true today. However, hospitals use water for many purposes other than hygiene. These include kitchen and dishwashing, cooling and heating, medical equipment, laundry, and other uses shown below.
How Water is Used and Conserved
Water is used in hospitals for more things than people typically realize. For instance, watering grass or plants, cleaning carpets, and washing bed linens makes up a significant percentage of total water consumption. These everyday things are important to the inner workings of hospitals, but are not necessarily associated with health care facilities.
In both commercial and institutional hospitals, there are many opportunities to conserve water! Installing high-efficiency fixtures in kitchens or low flow toilets in bathrooms is an excellent option and a cost-effective measure. Water efficient washing machines, dishwashers, and sterilization machines are also an excellent option. Rainwater catchment systems might be a little more complex for hospitals to integrate into existing facilities, but rainwater is an excellent option for irrigating landscapes and other greenspaces.
Aspirus Wausau Hospital - Wausau, Wisconsin
In 2009, Aspirus Wausau Hospital decided to cut back on water usage with their new Aspirus Women’s Health Birthing Center/Newborn ICU. The construction project focused on strategies and technologies that helped reduce water use. Toilets, kitchen sinks, and 90% of other appliances and fixtures were replaced by energy and water efficient alternatives. These measures have helped reduce the hospital’s total water usage by 30 percent.
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford – Palo Alto, California
Built in 2015, this hospital features both advanced medical and water conservation technology. The gardens and green spaces are irrigated with rainwater, the majority of the appliances are low flow and water efficient. Also, they have eliminated water cooled pumps, and the building design maximizes benefits of shade to reduce the need for air conditioning. All of these great conservation measures have allowed the hospital to use 38% less water than a standard hospital.
Kiowa County Memorial Hospital – Greensburg, Kansas
When the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital was severely damaged by a tornado in 2007, it was rebuilt with conservation in mind. The new hospital uses storm water that funnels water into the new high-efficiency appliances and fixtures. Additionally, their bioswale filtration process allows them to reuse water and cut water waste in half! This facility also takes advantage of its geographical location by using wind turbines to generate electricity. This helps power air conditioning units and other systems.
Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas – Austin, Texas
Formerly the Robert M. Mueller Municipal Airport, this hospital is one of the most advanced green hospitals in America! The Dell Children’s Medical Center utilizes rainwater collection for its irrigation system and water efficient toilets. The buildings have white roofs that naturally reflect sunlight to help keep the building cool, reducing air conditioner use. The most innovative aspect though is that the hospital captures steam from its physical plant and reuses it as chilled water!