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OHSU: Planning for Sustainability

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Employees on their way to work: OHSU uses the highest percentage of alternative transit modes in the region as we continue to strive for environmental sustainability.

It's no surprise that OHSU has a deep commitment to sustainability and green planning. After all, OHSU is one of the largest employers in a city and a state known worldwide for leadership and dedication to conservation and the environment.  

OHSU's commitment to the environment takes many forms, from its banning of all tobacco products on its Portland properties, to designing and developing some of the world's most advanced energy efficient buildings and facilities. 

In 2004, OHSU appointed and empowered the Green Team, a cross-section of OHSU employees committed to helping OHSU discover and implement new methods to achieve sustainability and environmental responsibility. Under their leadership OHSU began to implement extensive recycling programs, energy and water conservation measures, and noxious weed eradication.   

Under the direction of the green Team, in 2006 OHSU recycled: 

  • 586 tons of paper
  • 291 tons of cardboard
  • 72 tons of food waste
  • 39 tons of yard debris

and much more 

In an effort to help support surrounding communities and lower transportation impacts, OHSU Food and Nutrition Services began to purchase foods directly from local producers. In 2007, for example, this resulted in OHSU purchasing and consuming 4,000 pounds of organic chicken, 2,000 pounds of summer squash, and half a million half-pints of hormone free milk. This effort to buy locally was extended in the summer of 2007, when OHSU began hosting a weekly farmers market of fresh and organic local goods.  

2007 will also be noted as the year when OHSU became one of the leaders in the nation by going tobacco free at all of its Portland area facilities. The result has been that nearly 300 smokers quit, and hundreds have learned to better control their smoking urges during the workday. 

OHSU's green commitment can also be seen in the design and construction of its latest new buildings and conveyances.  

The Center for Health & Healing in the South Waterfront was recognized with the award of a Platinum LEED. This makes it the first large medical building in the world to achieve this distinction. The building is 61 percent more energy efficient than required by Oregon code. Along with this building, OHSU's Biomedical Research Building, which houses some of the most advanced laboratories and research equipment in the world, was given LEED Silver certification. 

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What is the LEED Award for buildings?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) Green Building System was established in 1993 by the U.S. Building Council to provide objective criteria for rating the energy efficiency, public health benefit and low-impact design of new and existing structures. With a total of 69 possible points, the rating system has four possible levels: LEED Certified, Silver, Gold, and the highest possible rating, Platinum.

A few other awards and recognitions OHSU has received includes: 

2007 Healthcare without Harm Environmental Leadership award 

2006 Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E) Partners for Change award 

2004 City of Portland Award for Environmental Excellence 

The Portland Aerial Tram proved itself a major success in 2007, with its ridership far exceeding expectations. This highly efficient passenger conveyance between OHSU's facilities at the South Waterfront, and the campus on Marquam Hill is estimated to annually eliminate 2 million vehicle miles and 93,000 gallons of gasoline, and reduce yearly greenhouse emissions by more than 1,000 tons.