U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Environmental Sustainability

What Is Sustainability?

For IHS, sustainability means:
  • The long-term management of our facilities and operations in a manner that ensures that IHS planning, practices, and operations reduce our impact on the environment.
  • To provide a safe and healthy environment for IHS staff, visitors, and patients.
  • Partnering with Tribes to develop sustainable communities.

The concept of sustainability has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and over-consumption of our natural resources. Implementing sustainable practices helps to ensure that the actions of the present generation do not compromise the environment for future generations.

To address these mounting challenges, federal agencies are subject to numerous statutory requirements, executive orders, and other policies surrounding sustainability. Below is a brief list of the various regulations and laws that guide IHS' sustainability initiatives.

Under the guidance of the above regulations, IHS and HHS have made significant efforts to further their departmental compliance. Below are links to some initiatives undertaken in the last few years.
  • HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov [PDF]: The 2012 HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan outlines HHS progress and strategies for the coming year in greater detail, and focuses on areas of success those that need improvement. The plan prescribed will be accomplished within available funding provided by the FY 2012 appropriation and within the levels requested by the President's Budget.
  • HHS Climate Change Adaptation Plan Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov [PDF] : This document will outline the challenges posed by climate change to the HHS mission, programs, and operations, and identify specific actions in FY 2013 and beyond to better understand and address those challenges.
  • IHS Environmental Compliance Awareness Guide [PDF]: Developed by the Office of Environmental Health and Engineering (OEHE) in December 2007. Provides an introduction to environmental regulations for Facilities Managers, CEOs, and other agency staff, including their basic responsibilities under each regulation, and resources to help them achieve compliance.
  • Indian Health Manual, Chapter 13 - "Environmental Compliance, Stewardship, and Sustainability": This issuance establishes the policy, procedures, and responsibilities for managing environmental compliance, stewardship, and sustainability objectives in the Indian Health Service (IHS).
  • Environmental Policy Statement: The IHS Director has signed the Environmental Policy Statement which supports the HHS' Go Green Get Healthy initiative, and the above IHS' Indian Health Manual, "Chapter 13: Environmental Compliance, Stewardship, And Sustainability."
  • Sustainability Advisory Board Charter: The Charter establishes the Indian Health Service (IHS) Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB supports the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in planning, implementing, and monitoring sustainability efforts.

Check out the brand new IHS 2012 Sustainability Annual Progress Report [PDF - 1.6MB]

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