While serving thousands of young patients each year, Seattle Children’s Hospital is taking care of nearby Lake Washington too, becoming the first U.S. hospital campus to achieve Salmon-Safe certification, earned for its environmental practices that enhance Seattle’s urban ecology and protect Puget Sound water quality.

The designation means that Children’s Hospital passed Salmon-Safe’s comprehensive third-party evaluation of the Hospital’s land and water management practices, is adopting practices that go above and beyond regulatory requirements, and is committing to further reducing its environmental impact over time, even as patient numbers increase. This includes minimizing impacts of development on sensitive aquatic and land resources; and protecting downstream water quality through landscape management practices, habitat restoration and facility performance—like waste reduction and responsible water use.

Seattle Children’s philosophy on sustainability is centered around its mission to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.

“When we do good things for the planet, we help take care of our patients and all children,” said Colleen Groll, Seattle Children’s manager of sustainability programs. “Children are one of the most affected populations by climate change and pollution, so it’s really important that we are a leader in reducing our impact on the environment.”

That organizational mindset and Seattle Children’s longstanding commitment to the environment recently inspired it to achieve certification as the nation’s first Salmon-Safe hospital campus. The distinction is attained by meeting peer-reviewed criteria and performance standards that demonstrate environmental stewardship in areas that directly impact the urban watershed.

“As the first hospital to achieve Salmon-Safe certification, Seattle Children’s will be the leader of a new movement to create healthier urban watersheds,” said Dan Kent, Salmon-Safe co-founder and executive director. “We look forward to working closely with Seattle Children’s as it raises the bar for environmental management within the healthcare industry.”

The Seattle Children’s certification marks Salmon-Safe’s expansion into healthcare properties, building from nearly 20 years of work with farm and urban landowners, including nearby University of Washington’s main Seattle campus and Vulcan development projects in Seattle’s South Lake Union district. Salmon-Safe currently certifies more than 800 urban and agricultural sites in Oregon Washington and British Columbia, representing 80,000 acres. The Salmon-Safe initiative significantly advances habitat restoration and water quality so that conditions improve for salmon to spawn and thrive. In Washington, Salmon-Safe is co-managed by Stewardship Partners.

“We have a large operation close to major waterways and we understand that runoff water from our campus eventually flows back into the local aquatic ecosystem,” Groll said. “We felt Salmon-Safe certification was important to pursue and aligned perfectly with our environmental priorities and commitment to the safety of our patients, families and community.”

Salmon-Safe sites undergo an annual verification process that includes a certified review of landscape management practices, storm water systems performance and other program elements.

“Salmon-Safe standards were developed to inspire watershed health. In this case we are the ones gaining inspiration from working with the team at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Linking environmental rigor to the health of our children is incredibly motivating for our team. Our collaboration is quite meaningful for us as an organization and as individuals,“ said Ellen Southard, Salmon-Safe’s Puget Sound Outreach Manager.

The Salmon-Safe certification required the hospital to also develop a more comprehensive campus-wide stormwater management plan, improve its documentation of landscape management practices and continue its pursuit of irrigation water use reduction and other conservation strategies.