Health Care Without Harm Boston

Health Care Without Harm hired its very first paid staff in Boston in 1996 to launch its medical waste incineration and medical mercury elimination campaigns. Ever since, HCWH Boston has continued to create and lead some of HCWH’s most ambitious efforts, including toxics reduction, green building, cleaner energy, and environmental health community benefits. Many of these efforts have spread around the country and the world.

Boston Green Ribbon Commission

Our current work reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and advances climate preparedness by health care facilities in greater Boston and around the region. We do this primarily through our role as coordinators of the Health Care Work Group of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission (GRC). The GRC is a unique cross-sector collaboration of over 30 CEOs working to support Boston’s climate goal, which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020, and 100% by 2050.

Read the Report Here

Metro Boston hospitals have made significant energy reduction and GHG progress. New analysis and a report completed in May, 2017 shows they cut their energy's greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent between 2011 and 2015, are on track to reduce emissions 33 percent by 2020, and 47% by 2020 compared to "business as usual" energy growth of 1.5% per year. The 47 percent reduction is the equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 42,220 passenger vehicles.

Notable progress between 2011-2015 in energy efficiency, conservation and greenhouse gas reductions, include absolute, weather adjusted reductions: 

  • in total energy use (electricity, gas, chilled water, oil and steam) by 223 billion Btu, 3.3 percent or 24,360 MtCO2e
  • in electricity use of 7.0 percent or 18,162 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e)
  • in natural gas of 20.0 percent, or 9,771 MTCO2e and
  • generated enough cost savings to pay for health care for 1,357 Massachusetts Medicare enrollees, equivalent to >$300 million in new patient revenue.

A 20% hospital sector greenhouse gas emission reduction is coming from significant investments in low impact hydro, wind, and solar power by Partners HealthCare and Boston Medical Center (BMC). Partners is working to make its entire health care system net carbon positive for all energy by 2025, and BMC expects all its energy to be climate neutral by 2018.



Resources and information on the GRC Health Care Working Groups’ remarkable progress, including a sample Energy Conservation Incentive Lease Agreement, a generic Strategic Energy Master Plan RFP, hospital CHP program information and more, are available here

The Health Care Work Group of the GRC has brought together hospital facility leaders to: 

  • Create a first-in-the-nation metro area health care energy and greenhouse gas data base, so HCWH can publicly report sector wide trending and usage. Years of energy data for 22 million square feet of metro Boston hospital space, including >24,000 records, has been uploaded into US EPA Portfolio Manager. A custom web interface helps track participants’ progress towards a 100% reduction in green house gas emissions by 2050.
  • Collaborate in support of energy efficiency policy advances at the city and state level, including active engagement with forward-thinking utilities, state policy makers and others to make sure the health benefits of energy efficiency are properly valued, and to shape the Commonwealth’s utility energy efficiency programs in ways that enable health care facilities to make the deepest improvements possible. Similarly, we helped the City of Boston shape an innovative Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance for all large commercial and multi-family buildings.

Contact Us

For more information on HCWH’s work with the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, contact Bill Ravanesi, Senior Director of Health Care Green Building and Energy Program, or Paul Lipke, Senior Advisor, Energy and Building.