Kaiser Permanente recently became the first health system to achieve carbon neutral status in the country. As the largest integrated, nonprofit health system in the United States, this achievement demonstrates its longstanding commitment to sustainability.
Certified by the CarbonNeutral Protocol, the organization has eliminated or offset its 800,000-ton annual carbon footprint, the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road. The certification applies to its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as select Scope 3 emissions including corporate travel.
For decades, Kaiser Permanente has been working to improve energy efficiency in its buildings, sourcing electricity from renewable sources including more than 360 MW of wind and solar generation and installing 44 MW of onsite solar arrays. In addition to these building improvements, they credit purchasing carbon offsets that also provided a strong health benefit with helping them reach carbon neutrality.
According to Kaiser Permanente’s press release, “One project funds clay pot water filters in Guatemala that avoid burning wood or gas to boil water, and also reduce fatal childhood waterborne diseases. Another project prevents Indonesian peatland from conversion into high-pollution palm oil production while funding a floating health clinic for riverside communities.”
Looking forward, Kaiser Permanente plans to expand its focus to lowering Scope 3 emissions in their supply chain.
Knowing that the road to carbon neutrality can’t be traveled alone, Kaiser Permanente has also teamed up with Health Care Without Harm to create a resource to help hospitals and health systems build a climate-smart health sector.
Co-authored by Health Care Without Harm and Kaiser Permanente, “The Path to Carbon Neutral: A Guide to Building a Climate-Smart Health Care System” shares lessons learned from Kaiser Permanente’s journey, as well as resources developed by Health Care Without Harm.