Sustainability in Healthcare: Water Waste

How Hospital EVS Providers Can Scale Back Their Water Usage

This is the first in a series of how EVS providers and facility managers can help their hospitals become more sustainable.

The studies on hospital water usage are abundant—and alarming. Yet there are ways facility managers and healthcare environmental service (EVS) providers can help.

Consider:

  • Water used in U.S. hospitals and other health care facilities comprises 7% of the total water used by commercial and institutional facilities.
  • An average of 570 gallons of water is used per staffed hospital bed a day. (In contrast, the average American citizen reportedly uses an estimated 150 gallons of water per day while the average Brit uses 44 gallons and the average African 5 gallons.)
  • An annual water usage study showed a range from 68,750 to 298,013 gallons of water per year per bed for hospitals with 133 to 510 beds.
  • In many parts of the United States, water and sewer rates rise between 5% and 10% annually.
  • U.S. hospitals rank in the top three institutions in terms of water usage.

Clean water is vital to healthcare, while water waste is the enemy. If consumption continues at its current rate, it is only a matter of time before hospitals and other healthcare institutions will be forced to ration water to avoid running out, especially in areas already plagued by shortages.

What EVS Providers Can Do

Although EVS departments are not the largest users of water in hospital settings, they are still a factor. The good news: There are slight adjustments facility managers and EVS providers can make to scale back usage while still creating safe, healthy environments for people to thrive.

Below are some suggestions to help EVS for hospitals reduce water usage.

Communicate. The first step to any EVS provider’s water conservation efforts should be getting the entire hospital EVS team on board. This starts with discussing the “whys” for water conservation—to help the environment and future generations and save the hospital money. Next should come the “when,” which should be asap, and “who” means the entire team from top management to EVS frontline workers. Finally, discuss “how.” This should include concrete steps, such as those below, to help the EVS team reduce water usage.

Use microfiber. In many cases, microfiber can do just as good a job cleaning a surface dry as it can wet. If a damp cloth is needed, microfiber holds more water while picking up and retaining more debris than other cloths. This means EVS workers can clean surfaces better while using less water.

Dust first. Many areas where surfaces are rarely touched, such as storage areas or seldom-occupied meeting rooms, can be cleaned using microfiber cloths without water. When cleaning with water is necessary, dusting to remove dirt and loose debris can reduce the amount required to produce a clean surface.

Check out innovations. There are many new technologies designed to reduce water consumption that are ideal for healthcare EVS, including:

  • String mops were great in their time, but they use a lot of water, leave a lot of water behind, and require buckets to be constantly emptied and refilled. Opt for a more sustainable choice, such as the iMop, which reduces water consumption while producing superior results.
  • Choose floor care equipment such as the Square Scrub Pivot orbital floor machine that can complete many jobs without water. Bonus: With a noise level of only 69 decibels, the machine is music to the ears of hospitals looking to reduce noise levels and raise patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores.
  • The Protexus by EvaClean is a cordless, lightweight electrostatic sprayer that eliminates mixing messes and mistakes, while each 2.25-gallon tank covers 100,000 square feet with a spray range of five to eight feet. The 360-degree wraparound technology provides precision surface targeting and adherence for incredibly less water waste.

Dual mop buckets. If you do need to use a mop and bucket, choose a microfiber mophead and dual-chamber bucket. Keeping dirty water separate from clean rinse water helps reduce the number of water refills. A wringer helps keep more water in the bucket and leaves less behind on the floor.

Check for malfunctions. While cleaning patient restrooms and using other facility water sources, EVS workers should check for and report leaks. The same is true for toilets that continue to run after being flushed. These seemingly small water wastes can add up to gallons and dollars over time.

Full linen loads. Washing of linens should be done in full loads whenever possible to reduce water consumption.

What Facility Managers Can Do

Consider landscaping alternatives. Many hospital facility managers are responsible for landscaping the property, which according to the EPA, is one of the largest uses of water for most hospitals. Most of this goes to watering grass, flowers, and shrubs. Using more water-resistant grasses and plantings can significantly reduce water consumption, as can sticking to options native to your area. Installing walkways and water-recycling fountains and ponds can reduce vegetation that requires watering while adding to the ambiance.

  • Stop leaks. Leaky faucets, toilets, and other malfunctioning water sources should be fixed promptly.
  • Maintain equipment. Many pieces of EVS equipment use water. Preventative and regular maintenance to keep them in top running condition can help ensure they use water as efficiently as possible.
  • Consider equipment updates. Most of today’s new equipment—from floor burnishers to washers to toilets—comes with water-saving features. The upfront cost of buying new equipment may seem like a lot, but it doesn’t take long to make up the expense in water savings.

EVS Provider Near Me

If you are looking for hospital cleaning services in Southern California or nearby regions with an exemplary record in sustainability, read more about our focus on sustainability and healthcare or contact us at 310-204-5040.

Are you looking for a hospital EVS or housekeeping job with a company that cares about the environment and operates in LA County, Ventura County, Antelope Valley, Orange County, San Bernardino, and other areas of Southern California? Read what these employees say about working at Servicon and find out more about careers with Servicon.

 

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