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Climate and Health

The largest contributor to greenhouse gases is the energy supply sector—estimated to generate 25.9 percent of worldwide greenhouse gases in 2007. The health care sector ranks as the number two commercial energy user in the United States after the food service industry, and the inpatient care facility is the health care sector’s largest energy consumer and largest GHG producer[i]. Hospitals use approximately twice the energy as office buildings of the same size, and roughly twice the amount of comparable European hospitals.[ii] A recent research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that in 2007 the health care sector was responsible for eight percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions, with hospitals owning the largest share of the contribution (39 percent), followed by prescription drug sector (14 percent)[iii]. The large scale energy use of the healthcare sector is having the unintended consequence of causing additional illness and disease that must then be addressed.

Hospitals generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a variety of ways, including:

  • the energy they use;
  • the emissions they release;
  • the food they serve;
  • the supplies they purchase;
  • the waste they dispose of
  • the structures they build; and
  • the transportation footprint from commuting employees and fleet management—to name a few.

Hospitals across the country—and around the world—are taking action to reduce their carbon footprints. From increasing energy efficiency to reexamining their food systems to analyzing their supply chains and transportation impacts, hospitals are finding ways to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Practice Greenhealth is working with its member hospitals to develop and identify robust measurement and tracking systems for GHGs and helping create the transition to a more sustainable long term energy solution. So how do you get started? Read more here:


[i] Chung, JW. And Meltzer, DO. Estimate of the Carbon Footprint of the US Health Care Sector. Journal of the American Medical Association. November 11, 2009—Vol 302, No. 18.

[ii] "ENERGY STAR for Healthcare : ENERGY STAR." Home : ENERGY STAR. United States Government. Web. 18 May 2011. <http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=healthcare.bus_healthcare>.

[iii] Chung, JW. And Meltzer, DO. Estimate of the Carbon Footprint of the US Health Care Sector. Journal of the American Medical Association. November 11, 2009—Vol 302, No. 18.

 

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