How We Make Health Care Sustainable

Using and re-using our resources wisely


Eco-conscious hospital and clinic building

Sustainability starts from the ground up. With each new building and renovation project, we look for innovative opportunities to preserve and protect our environment and its resources. We achieve this through a three-pronged approach, which connects with Affinity’s mission and values.

Together, each prong on our pursuit for perfection supports the mission and values of Affinity Health System. Whether it is through the responsible use of resources as outlined by our value of stewardship or through our abilities to work with our colleagues and community partners, each prong pushes us forward in providing services that promote health and well-being in our communities. 

1. Evidence-based Design: Before starting any project, Affinity conducts a rigorous, research-based process to enhance the patient experience through creating space that helps reduce stress, fosters social support and creates a healing environment.

2. Sustainable Design:  In addition to being beneficial to our patients, the design must adhere to Affinity’s value of stewardship. Using resources wisely ensures our ability to help the needy. This value directly correlates to green design. This prong has led to a green cleaning model in our new facilities and the purchase of green fixtures, furnishings and equipment.

3. Lean Principles: Establishing a process that is efficient in time, energy and resources is at the heart of Affinity’s Lean principles. Lean initiatives have been introduced in all of Affinity’s facilities and utilized by a number of departments. 

Affinity currently has built five clinics and the St. Elizabeth Hospital south addition using the three-pronged approach, and these clinics have earned LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.

Affinity Medical Group clinic in Little Chute

Lobby of the innovative new clinic design

Affinity Health System continues to take steps to integrate green thinking and design at St. Elizabeth Hospital. Currently, the hospital is transforming through a large renovation project aimed to improve patient care while doing the least harm to the environment.

The first phase of the St. Elizabeth Hospital renovation included a new main entrance and outpatient testing area. The main entrance was built with recycled materials and incorporates natural elements including light, water, stone and wood.

St. Elizabeth Hospital main entrance

The new Outpatient Testing department consolidates St. Elizabeth’s outpatient testing services into one area, making it more convenient for patients visiting the hospital.

St. Elizabeth Hospital Outpatient Testing patient waiting area

In August 2009, St. Elizabeth Hospital opened its new Heart, Lung & Vascular Center.  This new facility, designed with patient comfort and convenience in mind, will attempt to qualify for a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating.

Sustainable highlights include a vegetative roof to reduce the heat island effect and improve storm water quality.  The remaining parts of the roof are reflective, which also helps reduce the heat island effect.  In addition, the roof provides a visual attraction for many patients whose room windows overlook a view of the vegetation.

Energy savings is a significant focus of the Heart, Lung & Vascular Center.  Affinity has made an agreement with Renewable Energy Choice to purchase 70 percent of the electricity from renewable energy sources.  The building shell, lighting and HVAC equipment upgrades reduce energy costs by 27.6 percent beyond the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Appendix G Performance Rating Method baseline.  
Other energy efficiency features include:

  • additional roof and wall insulation
  • fixed shading devices in the windows
  • reduced interior lighting power density (to 0.67W/sf from the ASHRAE baseline of 1.2 W/sf)
  • interior lighting control
  • plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by more than 30 percent

Affinity emphasized using materials manufactured locally in order to reduce transportation impact. Materials were selected for their recycled content.  In addition, glues, paints, sealants and interior finish materials were selected with low VOC contents to improve indoor air quality.

The vegetative roof of St. Elizabeth Hospital Heart, Lung & Vascular Center.

Waste Management

Making medicine mercury free
Affinity began a mercury reduction initiative in 2002. The goal aligns Affinity with national standards to eliminate mercury use in health care. In liquid form, mercury is toxic and can cause serious health concerns if ingested or inhaled.

Affinity has replaced all patient mercury thermometers and a majority of sphygmomanometers in its facilities. In addition, Affinity requires all employees to attend a hazardous materials workshop, which educates employees about proper hazardous material disposable.

Properly disposing medications
Leftover medications that are flushed or tossed down the drain eventually make it into our area waterways. In 2002, a U.S. Geological survey found pharmaceutical and/or hormone contaminates in 80 percent of streams sampled in 30 states.

Affinity is working with area agencies to help with the proper disposable of drugs and bi-products, making our communities safer for everyone. We take special strives to properly dispose of expired or used:

• listed pharmaceuticals (warfarin, nicotine patches, insulin, mercury-based immunizations, metered dose inhalers, etc.)
• characteristic lab waste  
• barium contrast used in our Radiology departments
• photo fixer from wet processors in Radiology
• flammable products such as hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol.


It’s more than just paper and plastic. 
Affinity’s recycling program goes beyond paper, plastic and aluminum. We use local recycling firms to recycle not-top-of-mind items like batteries, light bulbs, office equipment, construction debris and even water.

During the first phase of the St. Elizabeth renovation project, Affinity recycled the following amount of materials:

Brick:   63,820 lbs.
Wood:   48 cubic yards
Asphalt:  633 tons
Cardboard: 2,480 lbs.
Scrap metal:  121,035 lbs.
Copper: 683 lbs. 
Brass:  7 lbs.

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1506 S. Oneida St
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 738-2000

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