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 14th report in a series stretching back to 2009. This report lays out sustainability performance data for 2022 collected through the 2023 Environmental Excellence Awards.
The 370 hospitals that contributed data collectively saved more than $197.4 million on sustainability initiatives in 2022, while pushing the market for more environmentally preferable products and materials with more than $939.7 million in sustainable spending.
These hospitals reduced more than 389.6 million kBtus of energy, saved 97.1 million gallons of water, diverted over 264.1 million pounds of waste from the landfill through recycling, and avoided 273,977 metric tons of carbon emissions through mitigation projects.
Saved enough water to fill 147
Diverted waste equivalent to the
Avoided GHG emissions equivalent
The annual benchmark report highlights best practices for sustainability integration in 11 different impact areas from the 2023 awards cycle (2022 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. 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:
- 89% of respondents have appointed or hired someone to lead sustainability efforts at the health system level, and 62% now report on sustainability to their board of directors.
- 28% have developed a Green Revolving Fund.1
- The CEO or board of directors identified climate change as a business risk by requiring regular reporting on climate change mitigation and preparedness in 31% of reporting hospitals.
- 69% of hospitals made a public commitment to addressing climate change, and 47% of non-federal hospitals advocated for or promoted policies or regulations that protect public health from the causes of climate change.2
- Hospitals avoided 274,000 MTCO2e as a result of carbon mitigation projects.
- 68% 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.
- Over 80% of hospitals have undertaken intentional work on racial equity, and 60% have taken action to identify and address inequities in patients' health outcomes based on race and other socio-demographic factors.
- 26% 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.
- 78% of hospitals are working on plant-forward meal planning that reduces the purchase of meat and poultry – with 24% committing to the Coolfood Pledge to track greenhouse gas emissions from food and beverage purchases.
- More than 70% 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.
- Almost 60% of hospitals are allowing employees to telework, and 15% calculated the environmental benefits of their employees' telework.
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 the uptake of sustainable initiatives. Academic partners and others can explore the data to glean insights and impacts they can extrapolate further for peer-reviewed research.
1 A green revolving fund (GRF) is an internal investment vehicle that provides financing to parties within an organization for implementing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainability projects that generate cost savings. These savings are tracked and used to replenish the fund for the next round of green investments, establishing a sustainable funding cycle while cutting operating costs and reducing environmental impact. To qualify as a GRF, the fund must, at a minimum, support energy efficiency projects. For more information on GRFs, see Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation & Management.
2 Percentage out of non-federal hospitals in the data set. Federal hospitals are not allowed to do advocacy.