For more than a decade, the famed Cleveland Clinic has undertaken a systemwide sustainability drive to make the health system green and reduce its carbon footprint. Health Facilities Management magazine points out that the effort includes energy- and water-reducing strategies, energy-efficient facility design, environmentally-friendly purchasing and an aggressive recycling effort.

"Everyone from the top down pitches in — it's all part of the culture at Cleveland Clinic," Jeff Ferenc writes.

In the past decade, the health system has saved an estimated $50 million in energy costs and $30 million in materials purchased, has diverted more than 100,000 tons of material from landfills and saved more than 600,000 trees, according to Jon Utech, director of Cleveland Clinic's office for a healthy environment.

Even with all of this success, the organization is moving forward with efforts to further contribute to sustainability by becoming carbon-neutral in 10 years.

"The health system plans to accomplish that by expanding the successful use of energy saving strategies it has implemented and by purchasing renewable energy, such as wind and solar, from the power grid. It also will implement on-site energy systems where it makes sense," HFM reports.

The undertaking will include expanding the installation of LED lighting in all new construction and retrofitting fixtures in existing facilities by the third quarter of 2018. More than 400,000 LED tubes have been installed in facilities, saving more than $3 million in energy costs annually.

Additionally, the number of air exchanges are drastically reduced when ORs are not in use and are maintained at the required rate rather than exceeding it during surgeries. Also, changes to how the HVAC systems operate will have an impact on the overall reduction strategy, including specific heating and cooling requirements.

The process is complex, but the organization engages its program, "Energy Savings & You," with its 51,000 staff and contractors to save energy whenever possible. For staff, that could be as simple as turning off the lights, TVs and computers to save energy.

Leaders want the health system to divert 100 percent of all unregulated waste from the landfill within the next 10 years. It will continue to encourage staff to recycle and also increase use of recyclable packaging with help from its suppliers.

Another goal is to reduce water consumption by 10 percent by installing low-flow showers and faucets in new construction and existing buildings over time. Cooling-tower water use will be optimized, too. Total savings will add up to about $1 million annually.

While the Cleveland Clinic's undertaking is enormous and monumental, it's not the only organization to take on such a task. According to Climate Neutral Now, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, several other leading organizations including Microsoft, Adidas Group, Sony and more are taking similar steps.

"Microsoft is committed to making our operations carbon neutral: To achieve net zero emissions for our data centers, software development labs, offices, manufacturing plants and employee business air travel in more than 60 countries around the world," said Tamara DiCaprio, senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft in a statement.

"We reach our carbon neutral commitment by driving accountability through our internal carbon fee model that charges our business groups for their greenhouse gas emissions associated with their energy consumption."

While these efforts have an obvious environmental impact, they wouldn't be possible without facility management buy-in, evolution and practice. That's certainly the case at the Cleveland Clinic given the required facility updates and improvements needed to meet its carbon neutral goal in such an aggressive manner. But that seems a small part of the overall return.

"We ultimately are trying to impact the health of the population that we serve and these goals guide our work," Utech said of the sustainability initiative. "We also want to inspire others to follow us since improving air quality, reducing carbon pollution and improving water quality benefits everyone."