Last year on Earth Day I encouraged everyone to make every day Earth Day. What did we do at IHS during the past year to accomplish that?
We have increased employee participation of telework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 26,832 telework days to 29,198 telework days annually. The construction of a new Fort Yuma Health Center is well under way and is expected to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Gold Certification. LEED is the most widely used green building certification and rating system internationally.
Funding has been approved to implement energy conservation measures such as lighting replacements at Northern Valley Indian Health in Chico, CA; the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations in Spokane, WA; and Fort Belknap Service Unit facilities in Montana.
IHS efforts also include xeriscaping projects, which minimize water use by planting indigenous species that are compatible with the local climate to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. This is being implemented at three health care centers in Montana, at the Riverside/San Bernardino County Indian Health Center in Banning, CA, and Fort Washakie Health Center in Wyoming. These are only a few examples of our efforts.
We are proud of these improvements and will continue to work hard on reducing our resource use and our impact on the environment.
The focus of this year’s Earth Day campaign is Environmental and Climate Literacy. Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs. A healthy planet is the basis for healthy populations, which contributes to the IHS Mission: to raise the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.