JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center received the 2017 Greenhealth Partner for Change award May 18 during a ceremony held in Minneapolis, Minn. This award recognizes medical facilities with superior performance in environmental sustainability."We have made great strides over the past year with many of our sustainability efforts," said Army Col. Gerald Dallmann, chief of Logistics at BAMC. "This award shows the commitment of our staff and leadership. I'm sure we will continue to strive for environmental excellence in the future."Current InitiativesWhen the new consolidated tower was being built, an underground spring was struck and water continued to flow up through an emergency elevator shaft. Until recently, the water was being diverted into the storm drain.To rectify that, "we were probably pumping a million gallons a month into the storm drain," Dallmann said. "It wasn't being used for anything."We installed a pipe to divert the water into our two reclamation ponds by the highway. And an irrigation system was added so that water is used to maintain the lawns around the facility."Kevin Edward, chief of the Environmental Services Branch at BAMC, said many other initiatives have already been implemented. The paper curtains that were used in several areas throughout the facility are now being changed to cloth, and the paper curtains are being recycled."By going to the cloth curtains, washing them and reusing them we are saving approximately $1 million annually," Edwards said.Another cost saving measure is the repurposing of white towels that become old or dingy. They are dyed brown and used in other areas of the facility or donated to the veterinary clinic on main post.The Culinary and Hospitality Branch has taken several steps to eliminate food waste by more closely tracking the amount of pre-made sandwiches and salads sold at the "Grab-and-Go's." They were able to save about $3,600 a month and avoid food waste.Patient meals are prepared on-demand and food production in the dining facility is being more closely tracked to reduce leftovers and discarded foods."We would like people who are planning to eat in the dining room to ask for a plate rather than a takeout container," said Army Lt. Col. Julie Rylander, chief of the Culinary and Hospitality Branch. "This would greatly help in our cost containment efforts."The takeout containers are made from recycled materials, but the facility currently does not have the ability to recycle them again once they have been used."In the kitchen we use mostly fresh or frozen vegetables," Rylander said. "We don't use a lot of canned food items, but we do recycle the cans we do use."All paper placed in blue recycle bins is collected and shredded before disposal."We average about 12,000 pounds of cardboard and shredded paper a month," Edwards said. "All paper should be replaced in a blue recycle bin, not just sensitive material."Additionally, more can and plastic recycle bins have been placed throughout the facility to encourage people to recycle cans and plastic bottles."We are trying to make it easier for everyone to recycle, but they need to do their part," Edwards said. "Take those few extra steps to put your can or plastic in a recycling bin."Future Sustainment PlansNew shredders with balers are being purchased. This will help with disposal because the bales will be more compact and easier to handle.Another area that is being evaluated is regulated medical waste. "We pay more than $100,000 a year to dispose of regulated medical waste," Edwards said.Edwards said they are looking into more efficient ways to dispose of regulated medical waste. There is a significant cost difference between regular trash disposal and regulated medical waste disposal."We are looking at trash compactors instead of the regular roll-off dumpsters we currently use," Dallmann said. "The compactors would alert the disposal company when they are full. The containers we currently use get picked up on a schedule whether they are full or not.""There is a huge spectrum of opportunity here at BAMC for savings and sustainability," Dallmann said.