Sustainability program fundamentals


Practice Greenhealth is here to guide your health care organization to integrate sustainability as a strategic priority and become a change agent for creating healthier, sustainable, and more resilient communities.

Health care organizations and companies of all sizes are realizing the many benefits that come from embedding sustainability into their operations including efficiency improvements, cost savings, reduced regulatory risk, enhanced employee engagement and retention, greater stakeholder satisfaction, improved public health, and public relations gains.

Following key elements of a well-established sustainability process, hospitals, health systems, and health care facilities can achieve measurable results. Some organizations begin at the top by explicitly including sustainability objectives in their overall strategic plan. Others start with an individual project that captures the imagination, energy, and commitment of the organization. 

Every partner starts with a baseline evaluation 

Following the completion of the Program Fundamentals Assessment – Practice Greenhealth’s baseline evaluation – a sustainability strategy manager assesses your organization’s stage of sustainability across 10 elements of effective governance:

  • Executive leadership
  • Governance structures
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Organizational commitment
  • Goal setting and strategy
  • Data governance
  • Board involvement
  • Employee engagement
  • Human resources support
  • Communication

To learn more, view a PDF of the assessment and our frequently asked questions. New partners and other stakeholders assisting in the completion of the baseline evaluation can access the assessment below.

Access the assessment

Stages of sustainability for health care

Nearly all organizations go through phases or stages of sustainability as they develop a new way of doing business. Based on our more than two decades of work with hospitals and health systems, we believe there are five stages along the sustainability journey.

Stages of sustainability

After using the Program Fundamentals Assessment to identify your organization's stage of sustainability across 10 elements of governance, your sustainability strategy manager works with you to co-create a 12-month partner plan for success. Each plan consists of tailored recommendations for peer learning and engagement through the Accelerating Health Care Sustainability series, an individualized consulting schedule, and actions to advance your program.

Apply proven guidance

No matter where you are on your journey, our proven guidance will help you establish strong fundamentals of sustainability governance or identify and prioritize opportunities to strengthen your existing program. Partners are encouraged to consult with their sustainability strategy manager on the most effective way to engage internal stakeholders in the success of their 12-month plan, which covers the four core components below.


Sustainability governance
Data & goal setting
leadership support
culture of sustainability


Connect to accelerate your program 

Join our Accelerating Health Care Sustainability series to learn from your peers’ successes and insights.

Each introductory session, held early in the week, is paired with a discussion forum held later that week. Introduction sessions ensure partners have a core understanding of the basics of the associated topic. Discussion forums serve two purposes. For partners who attended the introductory session, the forums provide a way to continue the conversation and explore ways to move the concepts forward. For partners who already have experience in the topic and may not have attended the introductory session, the forums provide a way to connect with and learn from their peers how to overcome barriers or roadblocks they have encountered and get new perspectives on ways to strengthen their approach. New partners are encouraged to attend each pairing; however, attending the introductory session is not a prerequisite for participation in the discussion forum.

The recommended audiences for all sessions include:

  • the primary sustainability leadership at a system level
  • primary facility-level points of contact 
  • sustainability or green team leadership 

Introduction to sustainability governance

Sustainability governance forum

governance structures, strategic plans, charters, identifying and engaging stakeholders, staffing, resourcing Executive sponsor, marketing, and/or communications colleagues

Introduction to data & goal setting

Data & goal setting forum

data governance, baselining, impact areas, metrics, awards, goal-setting Data or analytics colleagues

Introduction to securing leadership support

Securing leadership support forum

engaging leadership, making the case for sustainability to leadership Executive sponsor, clinical or medical directors of sustainability

Introduction to creating a culture of sustainability 

Creating a culture of sustainability forum

working with human resources, employee engagement, sustainability communications Human resources, marketing and/or communications colleagues, any engaged staff

The session topics in the series are not sequential and can be attended in any order (e.g., participants can attend “Introduction to securing leadership support” before they attend “Introduction to sustainability governance”). The series takes place regularly throughout the year to allow partners to join sessions at times that work best for their program development and individual schedules. Reach out to your sustainability strategy manager if you have questions about which of these sessions would be the best fit for you or other representatives from your organization to attend.

Register for each event

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Practice Greenhealth is the health care sector’s go-to source for information, tools, data, resources, and expert technical support on sustainability initiatives that help hospitals and health systems meet their health, financial, and community goals.

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