UAMS Northwest Receives Green Certification

 Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce members join UAMS Northwest staff to cut a green ribbon symbolizing the campus’ certification with the chamber’s “GreeNWAy” program for using energy-efficient and sustainable practices.

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce members join UAMS Northwest staff to cut a green ribbon symbolizing the campus’ certification with the chamber’s “GreeNWAy” program for using energy-efficient and sustainable practices.

Dec. 7, 2010 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest campus in Fayetteville recently earned recognition for its efforts to operate an energy efficient and sustainable organization.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce certified UAMS Northwest, home to the regional campus and the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Northwest as a “GreeNWAy” business. The chamber created the GreeNWAy Initiative to recognize and encourage businesses to adopt measures that are energy efficient and promote sustainability.

The term sustainability describes steps taken to be more energy efficient and environmentally conscious in ways that save money as well as protect natural resources.

“We feel fortunate to have achieved this certification as a result of hard work and commitment by our employees and students,” said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest Arkansas Region. “The certification also recognizes the effort made in ongoing renovations to use energy efficient elements when possible.”

UAMS Northwest is the 18th organization in the city to receive the certification since the program began earlier this year. The campus is the first health care organization in the city to be certified and occupies one of the largest buildings (about 330,000-square-feet) to attain certification, said Curtis Northcutt, the chamber’s coordinator for the program.

The two-year certification came after a self-evaluation by the campus about the sustainability of its operations. The campus had to submit its energy costs along with documenting energy conservation practices in place, ranging from the use of energy efficient light and plumbing fixtures to encouraging employees and students to turn lights off when areas are not in use.

Coy Hurd, director of UAMS Northwest campus operations, said recent renovations to the former Washington Regional Medical Center building that houses the UAMS regional campus included the energy efficient fixtures and features such as sensors on restroom lights that will detect movement and turn the lights off when no one is there. The original hospital building dates back to the late 1940s, he said, with a series of expansions and renovations through the years.

Another part of the certification process was an audit of energy efficiency and sustainable practices conducted by the University of Arkansas (UA) Students In Free Enterprise program of the the UA Sam Walton School of Business. The program is a partner in the GreeNWAy Initiative along with the chamber, city of Fayetteville and the UA Applied Sustainability Center.

The auditors used a scorecard covering six areas of sustainability: water, waste, people, purchasing, energy and education, Northcutt said. In addition to reducing waste and utility costs, he said, the audit reviewed how the organization was educating employees to be less energy dependent.

To retain certification, organizations must attend quarterly sustainability training sessions sponsored by the chamber. There also is a review of utility costs every six months.

The first phase of the renovations to the former hospital was complete in 2009. That also was the year the first group of third-year medical students arrived and the Area Health Education Center Northwest moved into the facility.

Renovations continue, creating additional classrooms, teaching laboratories and resources for distance learning. The next phase is expected to be complete in 2011, when a group of third-year pharmacy students will arrive.

Eventual enrollment at the regional campus is expected to be between 250-300 with students in medical, pharmacy, nursing and allied health programs, along with resident physicians who will be serving residencies at area hospitals and clinics.

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