Swedish Medical Center grounds crews go green and save money, earn EnviroStars honor

Using fewer pesticides leads to savings for local health care provider

 When the landscaping staff at Swedish Medical Center decided to take a more natural approach to their work, they helped improve the environment while improving their company’s bottom line, too.

 Several Swedish facilities had an annual pesticides contract for spraying trees and shrubs with insecticides and fungicides on a calendar basis. But taking a new look at the plants and soil conditions showed that problems that might need spraying – such as aphid infestations – were no longer there. After the regular pesticide spraying stopped, birds returned to help keep insect populations under control.

 As a result of their switch to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, Swedish has saved about $10,000 a year in costs – proving that using practical, less-hazardous techniques and products can be a cost-effective approach.

 “Reducing pesticide use makes sense not just for the bottom line, but also for the environment and preventing accidental exposures,” said Laurel Tomchick, EnviroStars program manager with Local Hazardous Waste Management Program.

 SwedishMedicalCenterfacilities at Issaquah, Ballard,Cherry Hilland First Hill are saving costs on pesticides by using IPM techniques, which focuses on using sustainable practices and the least toxic products to manage pest problems. All of the facilities report that their pest problems are reduced and are easily managed thanks to improved landscaping practices.

 “I am very happy with the results and the willingness of Swedish to adopt the use of Integrated Pest Management practices at their facilities,” said Liesl Zappler, landscape coordinator for Swedish First Hill.  “It is imperative that medical centers focus on health outside of their facilities, as well as on the inside. Being organic protects patients, visitors and staff, as well as the environment, and we have been able to do this at a significant cost savings.”

 Grounds staff at Swedish Medical Center First Hill worked to qualify as a 5-Star EnviroStars group, creating an IPM policy and landscaping practices that include plant selection for tolerance to drought and medicinal species, as well as mulch mowing and building healthy soil. They also safely disposed of old chemicals through the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s collection program for agricultural and commercial grade pesticides.

Swedish Medical Center has joined a growing list of more than 700 EnviroStars businesses offering a variety of services from car repair, dentistry, dry cleaning, landscaping, and printing, to veterinary care. Patronizing EnviroStars companies is a great way to take care of business while supporting environmentally sound commerce in your community.

 EnviroStars are given a 2- to 5-Star rating, based on their demonstrated commitment to reducing hazardous materials and wastes. Residents who want to support environmentally responsible businesses can look for the EnviroStars window decal and certification logo, find a business at www.envirostars.org or call 1-877-220-7827 (STAR) for a directory.

The nationally recognized EnviroStars Program was created in 1995 by the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington and has expanded to include six counties in Washington. Find out how your business can become an EnviroStar at www.envirostars.org.

 The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program is a partnership of local governments including Seattle, King County, the suburban and other cities in King County, working together to manage hazardous wastes and protect health and the environment. Visit us at www.HazWasteHelp.org.