2022 sustainability data


Each year, Practice Greenhealth collects and reviews comprehensive sustainability data from hospitals that report through the Environmental Excellence Awards. We provide the sector’s best sustainability performance benchmarking data to hospitals and health systems working to integrate sustainability into their mission, and to the health care supply chain partners that are integral to this work. This is the 13th report in a series stretching back to 2009. This report lays out sustainability performance data for 2021 collected through the 2022 Environmental Excellence Awards.

A focus on sustainability has allowed many health care organizations to drive environmental improvements while reducing the externalities and negative health impacts of their operations. These programs demonstrate it is possible to significantly reduce cost while adding value to the organization and decarbonizing the health care sector.

The 345 hospitals that contributed data as part of the 2022 Environmental Excellence Awards collectively saved more than $157.4 million on sustainability initiatives in 2021, while pushing the market for more environmentally preferable products and materials with more than $580.4 million in sustainable spending. These hospitals reduced more than 19.2 billion kBtus of energy, saved 17.8 million gallons of water, diverted over 374.5 million pounds of waste from the landfill through recycling, and avoided 330,821 metric tons of carbon emissions through mitigation projects.




Saved enough water to fill 27
Olympic-sized swimming pools
Diverted waste equivalent to the
weight of 908 Boeing 747 jets
Avoided GHG emissions equivalent
to 71,282 gas-powered vehicles

The annual benchmark report highlights best practices for sustainability integration in 11 different impact areas from the 2022 awards cycle (2021 data). It provides best-in-class data on how well hospitals are implementing an array of sustainability programs while also delineating the impact, including cost-savings, environmental, and other co-benefits. The report also shines a light on key operational changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This data set can be a valuable tool for an array of stakeholders. Hospitals and health systems can utilize it to drive organizational goal-setting and investment in sustainability programming. The health care supply chain can leverage the data to research and strengthen markets for new sustainable products and services. Local and regional governments and municipalities may be interested in tracking uptake of sustainable initiatives. And academic partners and others can explore the data to glean insights and impacts they can extrapolate further for peer-reviewed research. This year’s data also provides one of the few public snapshots of greenhouse gas emissions from the health care sector including early estimates of Scope 3 emissions.

Some highlights of the report include:

  • Hospitals avoided more than 330,000 MTCO2e as a result of carbon mitigation projects – more than four times higher than in 2020.
  • 70% of hospitals are working on plant-forward meal planning that reduces the purchase of meat and poultry – with 20% committing to the Cool Food Pledge to track greenhouse gas emissions from food and beverage purchases.
  • More than 75% of hospitals in the data set have tackled key waste reduction programs in the operating room, including custom kit reformulation to reduce waste supplied, use of rigid sterilization containers to reduce disposable wrap, and selection of reusable versus disposable products in key device categories.
  • 69% of hospitals now have a sustainable procurement policy that is considered when making purchasing decisions, and 53% have set sustainable procurement goals for their organization.
  • 88% of respondents have appointed or hired someone to lead sustainability efforts at the health system level, and 59% now report on sustainability to their board of directors.
  • The CEO or board of directors identified climate change as a business risk by requiring regular reporting on climate change mitigation and preparedness in 25% of reporting hospitals.
  • 50% of hospitals made a public commitment to addressing climate change, and 33% of hospitals advocated for or promoted policies or regulations that protect public health from the causes of climate change.1
  • Many hospitals were still adjusting operational practices to address COVID-19 surges. This included 61% of hospitals that made air handling changes, 67% of hospitals that expanded their use of disinfectants, 53% of hospitals that had to cancel or postpone elective surgeries, and 68% of hospitals that made changes to their food services offerings.
  • Nearly a quarter of hospitals now incorporate climate change language or a connection to climate change in activities of the Community Health Needs Assessment process for community benefit – up 53% since 2019.


 1 50% of non-federal hospitals in the data set. Federal hospitals are not allowed to do advocacy.

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