Going Dark: Showing Support for Earth Hour 2013

By: Cristina Mestre


UPMC’s non-hospital facilities along with hundreds of other buildings around the world and in Pittsburgh – including all 62 floors of the city’s tallest building, the U.S. Steel Tower –  will go dark Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in support of Earth Hour 2013, a global movement to raise awareness of environmental issues. 
Earth Hour also starts the countdown to Earth Day on April 22, another chance to focus on protecting our planet.  The temporary darkness at UPMC facilities is part of a larger effort in the system to show concern for the environment.
Some of UPMC’s ongoing green efforts include:
  • Supporting outdoor air quality improvement by replacing diesel buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and installing electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Supporting improved indoor air quality by using low-/no VOC paints, complying with state regulations by maintaining smoke free campuses and prohibiting idling of diesel fueled vehicles.
  • Integrating green space by installing healing gardens and living walls, implementing sustainable landscaping, assisting with community park seasonal preparation, promoting the use of organic fertilizers, drought resistant plants, increased trees and non-halite salt for walkways during the winter.
  • Promoting healthy habits by supporting alternative transportation options. Most facilities are accessible by public transit and many urban facilities now have expanded bicycle parking options. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside was recognized by Bike Pittsburghas a Bike Friendly Employer in 2012.
  • Improving energy management through the ongoing retrofit of internal and external lighting; installing solar power cells on the Hillman Cancer Center, and installing geothermal technology for energy savings at UPMC Northwest.
  • Reducing and diverting waste from landfills by diverting spent cooking oil and blue sterilization wrap to alternative uses, reusing office furniture, donating durable medical equipment and supplies to nonprofits for redistribution. 
  • Aligning with environmental health research at the Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, which studies the links between asthma, the environment and children’s health, and the Center for Environmental Oncology studies the connection between environmental exposures and adverse health outcomes.
  • Working with local organizations, universities and partners to promote and implement green health care initiatives, and to research environmental impacts.

UPMC facilities also are hosting several environmental events in the coming weeks, including: 

  • Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC is hosting an April 16 symposium on “Environmentally Literate Healthcare Providers.” Go to www.classes.upmc.com and type in “literate” for more information.
  • On April 13, UPMC Mercy will also host a spring cleanup day. Interested volunteers should call 412-232-7428 for more information.
  • On April 26, several UPMC hospitals will host “take back drugs day” to collect unused prescriptions. Look for the fliers and e-bulletin boards at participating hopsitals. Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will hold their unwanted medication collection event April 27. If you miss these events, you can also drop off unused pills at your local pharmacy on April 27 at participating locations that will be listed here.
UPMC is committed to reducing its environmental impact and leveraging community health by practicing environmental sustainability and promoting the adoption of healthy habits that can lead to a better quality of life.