Learn how health care organizations can implement sustainability programs to maximize organizational benefits as well as reducing environmental costs.

Although Canadian health care leaders are gradually responding to the need to focus more on sustainability, the sector is lagging in the implementation of strategic sustainability programs that offer organizational as well as environmental benefits. Other pressures on time and resources in health care management and a lack of sufficient guidance about how to integrate sustainability into business strategy and operations, may be acting as barriers to the uptake of sustainability initiatives. In the face of rising costs and increasing demands on health care resources, however, the sector cannot afford to neglect the potential of strategic sustainability as a means of improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness, as well as reducing the adverse environmental and social impacts that are a by-product of health care provision.

In this article, we discuss an Art and Science of Transformation concept as a recommended approach to the implementation of sustainability programs in health care organizations, which is likely to maximize the prospects for achieving measurable organizational benefits, as well as reduce the environmental footprint. In order to illustrate this, and to highlight areas of health care delivery in which a focus on sustainability can generate significant early benefits, we discuss two specific types of sustainability project: sustainable supply chain management and utilities optimization.