Environmental health and public health go hand in hand. That's why Mayo Clinic has always tried to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. In 2010, Mayo Clinic expanded efforts to conserve energy, build more sustainable buildings and strengthen environmentally responsible purchasing and waste management programs. The following are a few highlights of many efforts throughout our locations to advance sustainability.
Mayo Clinic increased its use of renewable energy by adding solar panels to the roof of the Damon Patient/Visitor Parking Garage in downtown Rochester, Minn. On a sunny day, at peak output, 462 solar panels provide all the power required for the ramp, including lighting, elevators as well as heating or cooling of stairwells. Excess energy feeds into the Mayo Clinic downtown electrical grid.
The system is expected to produce more than 150,000 kilowatt-hours annually. That's the same amount that 15 to 20 households use each year and enough to provide 25 to 30 percent of the ramp's needs during an average year. That makes Mayo's first solar energy installation the third-largest commercial solar project in Minnesota.
Mayo Clinic's Gabriel House of Care constructed in 2010 on its Florida campus is the first Mayo Clinic building to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. The new building is designed to maximize energy efficiency and indoor air quality, reduce emissions and waste, provide enhanced safety features and offer a high standard healthy living environment that meets the special needs of recovering transplant and cancer patients.
Mayo Clinic recycled approximately 30 percent of its nonregulated waste in 2010. Some of the "trash" proved to be treasure for schools throughout the Phoenix area, as Mayo employees in Arizona contributed no-longer-needed office supplies, such as pens, tape dispensers, files, markers and art supplies, to local schools.
Mayo Clinic employees in Arizona also helped divert more than 200,000 Styrofoam cups from landfills in 2010 in a concerted effort to use reusable drinking containers.
Outside a growing number of Mayo Clinic buildings across our campuses, thirsty plants have been arranged into attractive garden displays that absorb runoff rain water. The plants naturally filter out pollutants that rain may carry off roads, roofs and sidewalks.
By keeping contaminants out of sewers and groundwater, rain gardens protect the quality of nearby lakes and rivers. They also provide habitats for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects.
The Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, Minn., facilitated safe disposal of unused prescription medications with the Take it to the Box program. They partnered with the Fairmont Police Department and the Martin County Sheriff's Office to establish secure, 24/7 collection boxes for unused medications.
Improperly disposed medications can contaminate community water supplies or get in the wrong hands. Collected medications are sent to a facility in St. Louis and properly destroyed.
In Eau Claire, Wis., Mayo Clinic Health System received a "Green Business" designation from the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce for an impressive list of achievements:
Mayo Clinic was recognized with the 2010 Environmental Achievement Award from Olmsted County and Rochester Public Utilities for its system-wide commitment to fiscally responsible environment protection practices.
Mayo continues to explore opportunities for improving sustainability practices, including increasing the recycling and reprocessing of materials and sourcing more renewable energy.