Environmental Excellence Awards - VA Caribbean Healthcare System
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VA Caribbean Healthcare System


Environmental Excellence Awards

Administrative Building

VACHS Administrative Building

By Axel Villacis | Public Affairs Web Content Social Media Manager
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The VA Caribbean Healthcare System has been honored with three distinguished awards, our organization is leading the industry in all-around sustainability performance, demonstrating comprehensive programs that are illustrating how sustainability is entrenched in our organizational culture.

Each year 25 Top winners are selected; every year the competition for these spots increase as other hospitals across the country continue to step up their game and innovate.

What awards did we win?

  1. Greening the Operating Room Recognition Award
  2. Circle of Excellence – Green Building Category Award
  3. Environmental Excellence Award

How did we accomplish such important honors?

The most important factor of becoming a sustainable organization within the Federal Government is the passion of our employees and teams dedicated to promoting a healthy and clean environment. This is the primary reason our organization is considered a best practice facility.

Our leaders and key staff are totally engaged in implementing new sustainable practices, in recent years, we have made great strides towards sustainable design, access to natural daylight and views, avoiding a comprehensive list of harming chemicals, energy and water conservation, construction and demolition debris recycling have become a standard practice.

Let’s talk about some numbers: 

Water and Energy Conservation
- installation of LED lighting and occupancy sensors, construction of recovery condensate water loop, replacement of high efficiency motors and equipment improving the overall performance of the buildings.

  • Reduction of 6,848,000 Gallons of Water Consumption
  • $298,000 water cost savings
  • Reduction of 177,615kwh Energy Consumption
  • $600,000 energy cost savings
  • Reduced mercury waste by 65% - LED Lighting Installation
  • Surgical Suites New HVAC -$64,968 energy savings

Greening the Operating Room – Hospitals that pursue changes in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), LED Lighting, Fluid Management Systems, Medical Device Reprocessing, OR Kit Reformulation, Reusable Medical Products and Reusable Sterilization containers could see annual savings of $56,000 per operating room.

Photograph of the Green Environmental Management System (GEMS Committee)
 From Left to Right:

  • Karem Rivera-Meléndez, Phatology & Laboratory
  • Carrie Gibson-Sánchez, Assiatant Chief, Nutrition and Food
  • Anthony Pereira-Chaverri, Emergency Management
  • Eng. Veda Cruz, Chief Environmental Regulatory Section & GEMS Coordinator
  • Victor Morales-Maldonado, Environmental Regulatory Section
  • Eng. Luz Muriel, Environmental Regulatory Section
  • Miguel Abrew, Logistics Service
  • Eng. Arleen Vera-Pérez, Environmental Regulatory Section
  • Eng. Jaime Marrero, Associate Director, GEMS Committee Chairperson and FacilitySustainability Officer
  • Gerardo Jovet-Toledo, Research and Development Service



We save $616,000 every year

  • Surgical Suites New HVAC -$64,968 energy savings
  • Rigid Sterilization Containers
  • Custom OR Kit to enhance inventory and waste
  • Anesthetic Gas systems re-design


Energy Management Initiatives – The interior Design Team in Facility Management Service created a green purchasing program as part of a “Symbiotic Sustainability” strategy to minimize waste and conserve resources. Among other accomplishments, the Team reused locks which directly saved $70,736, and avoided 1,051 pounds of metal waste. Repairs to medical chairs resulted in savings of approximately $10,000 and avoided more than 1,000 lbs. of waste by reusing and refurbishing furniture. Total savings of approximately $210,000 and 22,198 lbs. of waste avoided

Improving Patient Experience:

We designed a Healthy Interior Program which provides a platform to improve patient access by unifying all medical services within their existing spaces with a route designed to create spaces and zones of healing environment, the route also includes visual information wall art for promotion disease prevention. This program is directly linked with our 2019 Circle of Excellence Award Green Building Category which shows our commitment to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) constructions standards and creating high performance healing environments.

  • 28,000 square feet tour distance design
  • 450 steps of physical activity
  • Tour interacts with 2,500 persons per day (Veterans and Visitors)
  • Patient registration designed into the route
  • Tour is sponsored by The VA Move Program
  • Increased Veteran Participation within the route (Experience Made Art program)

 What do our Leaders and Managers have to say?

“I am honored to be the sustainability officer of this excellent organization. Our Green Environmental Management System’s (GEMS) program is considered among the most solid in the nation. I am exceptionally proud of our GEMS Team, without them, this program would not obtain these high honors. Winning these awards: Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, Practical Green Health Environmental Award and Greening the OR recognition, demonstrates and validate the commitment we have with our Veterans and the environment.” Jaime Marrero, Associate Director of VACHS.

 “This is a multi-disciplinary approach to environmental sustainability; our team of environmental engineers and staff are leaders in this effort to become a sustainable friendly organization...but the key ingredient is Leadership and Employee engagement. We create partnerships with Nursing Services, Food and Nutrition, Sanitation and other key players within our Hospital that drive and make these programs successful” Wilfredo Quiñones, Chief Facility Management Service.  

 “I am very proud of our organization environmental program, year after year they continue raising the bar. Because of our team’s efforts and commitment to the program, our organization is considered a BEST PRACTICE agency within our national platform.” Carlos Cruz, Assistant Chief 

Photograph of the Interior Design Team
Front left to right, Félix Vargas, Julio Martinelli, Amado Sosa, Catherine González, Luz Muriel-Diaz, Emmanuel Ramírez, Jorge Alemán, Francisco Martínez, Rubén Reyes, and Mario Rosario





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