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Q&A with Lori Van Zanten

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | January 09, 2014
From the January 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCBN: What would you say are the biggest challenges associated with making a hospital more sustainable?
LVZ: I think the biggest challenges are changing the mindset and habits of people. Like all hospitals, we generate a lot of waste and spend a lot on utilities. It’s exciting to see our industry exploring alternatives to reduce waste and recycle more — especially if we lower expenses.

HCBN: Do you feel like there are still some misconceptions out there about the cost, logistics, etc. of making a hospital “green”?

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LVZ: When we began planning for the new medical center, we heard from many that it’s too expensive to build green. It’s true that when we built our hospital it did cost more, but we were also very confident that we’d see those savings in the long run — and we have. I feel people now more or less expect businesses to be environmentally aware when building or remodeling. This is evident when you go to your local home improvement store and can buy paint or adhesives that are low or no VOCs [Volatile Organic Compounds].

HCBN: How do you build a staff that’s also committed to sustainability?
LVZ: I think we’re fortunate we live in Oregon because it’s part of our culture to be mindful of the environment. I’m also proud of our employees because they help keep us honest. They were involved in the construction project from the beginning and were very supportive of us pursuing LEED certification. We also have an active “green team” that keeps the momentum and awareness up for others.

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