While Cleveland’s location on Lake Erie – the 12th largest body of fresh water in the world – provides Cleveland with a distinct comparative advantage, the city’s reputation has also been blemished by the historic Cuyahoga River ﬁre in 1969 that resulted from excessive levels of pollution caused by heavy manufacturing and industrial contamination.
Freshwater resources represent an invaluable local asset that has shaped Cleveland’s identity, both in the way that the city has perceived itself and how it has been recognized outside the region. Cleveland Clinic actively protects our water supply through conservation measures, pharmaceutical drug takeback days, and stormwater measurement. As stewards of our community's health, we see preservation of our community's natural resources as a vital part of our health mission.
Water Use Intensity
Our Buildings and Properties, Facilities Engineering, and the Office for a Healthy Environment departments formed a water reduction team with the goal to reduce enterprise water consumption by 10%. The team meets monthly to discuss project status updates and progress from our 2015 baseline. We measure progress based on water use intensity, or the demand for water relative to the building’s size.
We have 28 different controllers on main campus that run our external irrigation system. All are equipped with rain sensors so they do not operate when it rains, but twenty-three must be manually adjusted, and five can be remotely accessed by a computer. The controllers are designed to receive weather information such as expected rainfall, wind speed and temperature so that presets can be determined to meet each area’s need for water. Proper management of these controls helps reduce unnecessary potable water use for our landscaping.
Avon Hospital Wetland Restoration
The expansion of Cleveland Clinic’s Richard E. Jacobs Family Health Center was planned with great attention and care to the natural environment. The Avon, Ohio site contains extensive areas of wetlands, forests and large amounts of streams. Throughout the project planning process, we coordinated directly with natural resource and regulatory agencies, including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, to ensure that the hospital expansion was in compliance with all state and Federal laws in place to protect these important resources.
The permits received from the state and Federal governments authorized impacts to 3.97 acres of wetlands and 671 feet of stream. However, these important resources were not lost forever. As a condition of receiving the permits, Cleveland Clinic was required to provide replacement wetlands and streams to compensate for the impacts resulting from the project. To mitigate the loss of wetlands on the site in accordance with state and federal rules, we purchased a total of over 9 acres of wetlands from The Nature Conservancy and Ohio Wetlands Foundation, two organizations that work to restore wetlands within Ohio.
Cleveland Clinic also committed to the extensive use of permeable pavers across the new parking on the property. Permeable pavers are an important green infrastructure technology that helps to protect the water quality of our streams. When rain hits permeable pavers, it is retained for an extended period of time within the deep gravel sub-base, which also serves to filter out contaminants from the storm water before it is released. Permeable pavers provide great benefits when compared to traditional asphalt or concrete pavement. The use of permeable pavers at the Avon site is the largest of its kind within the greater Cleveland area.
Waterless Hand Scrub
Led by former Cleveland Clinic Ken Lee memorial fellow Matthew Davis, MD, our Greening OR committee promoted water conservation through use of dry scrub (taps off while lathering) in our ORs. With Facilities' assistance to install (hidden) water sub-meters on surgical sinks, Dr. Davis conducted a water audit to establish a baseline practice. He then educated the House Staff Association on the effectiveness of a dry scrub technique, citing the American Journal of Infection Control's publication on the effect of surgical site infections with waterless and traditional hand scrubbing protocols on bacterial growth.