Webinar 2: Building the Bridge Between Quality Improvement and Environmental Sustainability

Thanks again to Janet Howard of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative for hosting our second session and the more than 40 registrants who signed up.  I was joined by Paul Linzmeyer, Sustainability Leader at ThedaCare Health System, headquartered in Appleton, WI who outlined the context for our session.  ThedaCare has enrolled in the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and has a well-deserved reputation for integrating quality improvement in their operations through deployment of Lean thinking and methods.

Here’s one of the images Paul used that show the connection between ThedaCare’s “True North” foundations and the Triple Bottom Line familiar to many in the sustainability community:

I then introduced the technical content of the session, framing the presentation in terms of the Model for Improvement that links three questions to the Plan-Do-Study-Act learning cycle:

ThedaCare has begun to focus on better ways to steward its use of energy, water, and material, with the aim to promote the health of communities which they serve. (Answer to Question 1)   Given that aim, they are measuring energy and water use and rates of recycling. In terms of the Lean philosophy at ThedaCare, they measure energy, water, and material flows, seeking to reduce waste. (Answer to Question 2).  For energy, Paul outlined changes made in 2012 and early 2013, including retro-commissioning, lighting upgrades and a steam turbine overhaul. (Answer to Question 3 and the start of the PDSA cycle, Plan and Do).

Our technical discussion applied quality improvement tools to Study:  what evidence is there that changes are related to more efficient use of energy?

I moved quickly through seven steps, outlined in two previous blog posts (part 1 and part 2).

It is remarkable that we can characterize facility-level energy use of a complex large building like a modern hospital with just knowledge of outside air temperature. And that we can use air temperature numbers to predict energy use. But that’s what the data show! You can start with monthly utility data and learn if changes have had the impact you expect, to complement the 12 month rolling analysis provided by ENERGY STAR®’s Portfolio Manager.

The main message for leaders and facility and sustainability managers on the call: you can estimate the impact of the changes you make to your facilities with the utility data you already have. Is the impact about what you (or your vendors) predicted? Better?  Worse? What does the comparison between actual performance and predicted performance tell you about the next changes you can make to the target facility or to other facilities in your portfolio?

For the quality improvement specialists on the call: you can use your skills in plotting data, fitting predictive models and control chart methods to assess impact of changes that will guide executives and your colleagues in facilities and sustainability. 

As my teacher George Box noted 40 years ago, in the face of the environmental problems in our world, we have to learn fast (G.E.P. Box, "Statistics and the Environment", Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, No. 2, 1974, p. 52). 

Your QI contribution can catalyze action—in the real sense that you can speed up the PDSA learning cycle through effective use of energy and temperature data, to help facility and sustainability managers and staff make real progress more quickly.

Our next and final session on 27 March will open the door to the power of daily and 15-minute energy data and then return to our webinar theme, with more ideas about how QI experts and facilities and sustainability managers can work together.

Pre-registration for the free webinar is required, here is the link.

And here is the link to a pdf version of the presentation, Notes form.



Webinar 3: Building the Bridge Between Quality Improvement and Sustainability

Construction Update: Building the Bridge Between Quality Improvement and Environmental Sustainability