The size and cost of healthcare is increasing. Expenses for all personal healthcare services and products in each state have been growing 4.4% to 7.3% per capita annually. In each state, healthcare spending ranges from $5,000 to $10,400 per person per year. Healthcare spending accounted for 17.9% of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011, and 36.3% of those national healthcare expenditures are for hospital care specifically.
As environmental sustainability becomes a greater priority for the American public, the healthcare industry, with its relative size, costs, waste generation, and expected growth, is under pressure to improve its economic, social, and environmental sustainability. With these challenges and growing concerns about the US healthcare industry and the general health of the public, healthcare providers are turning towards a preventative model of care, part of which involves environmental health or the healthy interaction of humans with their environment (Fani Marvasti and Stafford 2012). Hospitals, in particular, are called upon to be designed more sustainably and to improve the environmental sustainability of their processes and procedures (Ficca, Chyun et al. 2000; Phelps, Horman et al. 2006; Verderber, Fauerbach et al. 2008; Younger, Morrow-Almeida et al. 2008; Stichler 2009). In order to implement more environmentally sustainable hospital building design and medical practices, healthcare decision-makers need proper tools and information about the industry’s current environmental footprint, which aspects of hospital design and function contribute most significantly to environmental and human health impacts, and how changes to the healthcare system might impact its overall sustainability.