Trending Topics

It’s easy being green in the EMS marketplace

Celebrate Earth Day by making eco-conscious choices

Update April 20, 2015

Each year Earth Day, which takes place in April, is a reminder about the connection between our actions as consumers and the consequences of those actions on our environment. Businesses, in the public and private sector, due to compulsion from policy and legislation or simply believing it is the right thing to do, purchase “green” products for use in the workplace.

Business purchasing decisions should be guided by the price at the point of purchase as well as cost savings or the ongoing costs related to operations and maintenance. For example, the initial price of a compact fluorescent bulb is greater than an incandescent bulb. Fortunately, the purchaser realizes substantial operational savings over the life of the bulb.

When considering “green” product purchasing look for opportunities in these three areas – offices, stations, and vehicle maintenance. Transitioning to a paperless patient care report should significantly decrease your organization’s use of paper products. Calculating the true savings though should consider more than the cost of paper and printer. It should also include staff time savings from less data entry, software and hardware purchasing and maintenance, data transfer, and electricity used to run the ePCR system.

Building energy audit

A building energy audit can be used to identify and prioritize weatherization and efficiency projects in your offices and stations. The feedback from an energy audit could help your organization prioritize insulation and weatherization, Energy Star appliance purchasing, and lighting projects.

Reduce electricity use automatic lighting

Installing motion-sensitive lighting in offices, training rooms, and day rooms is an easy way to quickly reduce electricity use. Many of us are expected to have a chute time of less than a minute which doesn’t leave much time for turning off the lights around the station as we leave. Just like the garage door goes down automatically, have the lights go out automatically.

Green cleaning products

“Green” cleaning products for vehicles, bathrooms, kitchens, and floors are widely available. Remember that “green” is more than something on a label. When selecting green products, ask the salesperson to clearly explain the features that make the product “green” and a better alternative to other choices. Generally, “green” products should have characteristics like being non-toxic and biodegradable. Most importantly, the product needs to be more than a pretty bottle. It needs to be functional. Make sure you test out the “green” cleaning supplies your vendors are offering.

Energy Star qualified appliances

Three appliances run nearly constantly at most EMS stations I have been in – desktop computers, computer monitors, and televisions. When replacing these appliances and other appliances like dishwashers, washers and dryers, and hot water heaters, choose Energy Star qualified appliances. An Energy Star television can use 30 percent less energy than other units. For computers, both desktops and laptops, learn how to use the power-saving features to reduce energy consumption. Going into a password-protected “sleep mode” is also a valuable information security precaution.

Be a savvy green consumer

Finally, be a savvy “green” consumer. Manufacturers in all types of product lines are integrating “eco-friendly” traits into their products. For example, Perfection Uniforms has recently introduced a line of uniforms, the PinnacleEcoSeries, that uses recycled yarn.

Try to take your workplace “green” efforts to the next level. Paper and consumer product recycling should be routine by now. Even minimizing office paper use is easy. Start looking for opportunities to purchase “green” products and ask suppliers about “green” features in their products. For more information on Earth Day visit

What green products do you buy for your EMS agency? Do green products cost you more in the long run than comparable products? What are your energy-saving tips? Share your ideas in the member comments section.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.