In celebration of Earth Week, Intermountain Healthcare is unveiling the largest landscaping overhaul the health system has ever undertaken at its hospitals and clinics that will save an estimated 17.5 million gallons of water annually.
As Utah continues to suffer from record breaking drought, Intermountain is taking steps to reduce the impact its facilities have on water use.
“For a long time, larger facilities put in a lot of water intensive grass because it was cheaper and looked nice from an aesthetic standpoint,” said Keith Pennington, landscaping supervisor for Intermountain Healthcare. “Our approach now means thinking about the impact of everything we plant before it goes into the ground and to work to help conserve as much water as possible.”
The landscaping upgrades are taking place at five Intermountain facilities, which include:
- Intermountain American Fork Hospital
- Intermountain Orem Community Hospital
- Intermountain Riverton Hospital
- Intermountain Saratoga Springs Clinic
- Intermountain TOSH – The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital
At these hospital and clinic campuses alone, Intermountain is removing 19 acres of grass and planting more than 350 trees. This will not only save water, but will greatly reduce the need for fuel, repairs, fertilizers, and regular mowing.
It all adds up to an estimated savings of more than $200,000 a year.
“A major benefit of our sustainability efforts means the money we don’t use on running our facilities can go back into funding our health programs for patients and the community,” said Glen Garrick, system sustainability director for Intermountain Healthcare. “We want to be good stewards in the communities we serve, and this is another step towards that goal.”
For the past several years, Intermountain has made water wise landscaping a requirement at all new facilities. Now, the focus is turning to older campuses that were built with more grass and non-native plants.
A major part of the savings at these facilities doesn’t just come from the plants, but the technology used to water them. New high-tech irrigation systems have been installed to monitor weather for rain, and alert crews if there are leaks anywhere in the piping.
Pennington says many people don’t realize how important landscapes are to hospitals, and he hopes these upgrades will only enhance the experience for patients and visitors.
“We want a beautiful place for our patients to be able to heal and relax outside, and hopefully take their mind off their stresses,” said Pennington. “Some long-term patients may only get a few brief moments outside and we want to make sure the time they do have is special. We’re working to unite conservation and wise use of resources with ensuring our campuses are places of healing.”
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