More hospices are going green, making short-term investments to cultivate long-term sustainability.
While some environmental initiatives come with substantial upfront costs, providers expect to see returns through reduced energy and fuel costs, as well as recruitment and retention in some cases.
Among these companies is Agrace Hospice & Supportive Care, which unveiled an initiative last October to become carbon neutral by 2025, according to President and CEO Lynne Sexten.
“Strategies evolve as an organization’s carbon neural effort matures,” Sexten told Hospice News in an email. “In the early years, organizations like Agrace purchased carbon offsets as they implement other, more complicated plans that require extra time and financial resources.”
Established in 1978, Agrace provides hospice and palliative care in southern Wisconsin. The nonprofit’s other services include personal care, adult day services and grief support.
By reducing its carbon footprint, Agrace aims to cut down greenhouse gas emissions through investments in renewable energy and building improvements — including retro-commissioning existing building infrastructure and installing roof-top solar panels.
Agrace has also begun the process of converting its fleet of durable medical equipment delivery trucks to electric vehicles. Local sourcing for meals delivered to patients and families also contributes to lowering the hospice’s overall carbon emissions.
Indirectly, environmental initiatives can also give hospices an edge when it comes to recruitment and retention, according to Sexten.
“There is huge interest and support for these initiatives among staff. It is an important piece of our culture when it comes to engagement and retention,” Sexten said. “It also contributes to the overall impression job seekers get about Agrace.”
Agrace is not the only hospice making an effort to go green.
Amedisys, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMED) also has environmental initiatives in the works. The company has established a Net Zero Climate Transition Plan with an aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 2050.
Last year, the home health and hospice company released its first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report that included data on its 2021 energy consumption as a benchmark.
Among the company’s goals is to evaluate emissions associated with its fleet of 2,000 employee vehicles, which predominantly consists of smaller cars with low fuel requirements, Amedisys indicated in the report.
The plan also includes renovations of its Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Nashville, Tennessee, office locations, adding sustainable paint, automated lighting, recycled flooring and locally sourced materials.
“While we are not a carbon-intensive business, we still do everything in our power to reduce our impact on the environment — using resources efficiently, reducing waste and cutting our carbon emissions wherever possible,” the ESG report indicated.
In another example, Ohio-based Hospice of the Western Reserve began its sustainability journey in 2009 by forming an internal team dedicated to creating and implementing better environmental practices.
Dubbed the “Green Team,” the group is responsible for reviewing financial data around energy and utility consumption in order to identify opportunities for improvement across the organization.
To date, the effort has contributed to waste reduction and lower energy consumption, according to a 2019 report of the hospice’s efforts in Practice Greenhealth.
The hospice also implemented building renovations to include more efficient systems and equipment, recycled and repurposed materials and the purchase of more environmentally safe cleaning and sanitation products.
For example, sensors installed at its Ames Family Hospice House were projected to reduce costs associated with exterior and interior lighting by 61.4%, Hospice of the Western Reserve indicated in the report.
Hospice of the Western reserve did not respond to Hospice News’ attempts to connect, but the initiative has rippling impacts of sustainability beyond the organizations’ locations, according to CEO Bill Finn.
“Sustainable practices benefit the entire community,” Finn said in the report. “Sustainability, environmental stewardship, economic vitality and social responsibility are closely aligned with our mission to promote quality of life for our patients and families, and to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”