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Report: Modest Investments by Hospitals Can Go Far to Combat Climate Change


WASHINGTON — Even small investments by hospitals in climate resiliency and climate change mitigation can yield meaningful results and, as a proof of concept, pave the way for a greater commitment to climate-related work, Essential Hospitals Institute concludes in a new report.

The report, Advancing Climate Resilience and Mitigation at Essential Hospitals, presents findings from a second phase of Kresge Foundation–funded climate resiliency research by the Institute, the research and education arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. Unlike the project’s first phase — largely interviews to assess the state of climate resiliency work at essential hospitals — this new phase funded three member hospitals to conduct climate-related projects.

St. Luke’s Health System, in Boise, Idaho, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), in Little Rock, and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, each received up to $75,000 to support new or ongoing work to reduce waste, energy use, or greenhouse gases.

“We knew from our initial research essential hospitals perceive climate resiliency work as prohibitively costly, especially given their limited resources as safety net providers,” says Kalpana Ramiah, DrPH, MSc, Institute director and vice president of innovation for America’s Essential Hospitals. “But our grantees in this phase proved a little can go a long way.”

The hospitals took a variety of successful approaches to shrinking their carbon footprint, including reducing emissions of anesthesia gases, using automation to turn off lighting and air conditioning in elevators during periods of low use, and conducting and acting on waste audits. The report details each of the projects and the grantee’s perspectives on their work. It offers five recommendations to hospitals considering projects to improve climate resiliency and mitigate climate change:

  • Educate hospital leaders about the link between essential hospitals’ safety net mission and the disproportionate impact of climate change on their marginalized patients, and offer low-cost options to reduce emissions and waste.
  • Set small, specific, and achievable goals and build on them for future projects.
  • Demonstrate how investments in climate projects can yield meaningful cost savings to plow back into new work.
  • Broadcast climate resiliency wins widely and reframe return on investment to include environmental stewardship and staff engagement, as well as financial returns.
  • Promote coalitions and partnerships with utility companies, local governments, and other stakeholders to share best practices and extend the reach of climate work.

“Essential hospitals cannot do the work of climate resilience and sustainability alone—they need the support of larger institutions and the greater community, as well as staff collaboration across their entire operation, to make the greatest impact,” Ramiah says.

Advancing Climate Resilience and Mitigation at Essential Hospitals is available for download on the America’s Essential Hospitals website.

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals dedicated to equitable, high-quality care for all, including those who face social and financial barriers to care. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has advanced policies and programs that promote health, health care access, and equity. We support our more than 300 members with advocacy, policy development, research, education, and leadership development. Communities depend on essential hospitals for care across the continuum, health care workforce training, research, public health and health equity, and other services. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead all of health care toward better outcomes and value. Learn more at

About Essential Hospitals Institute
Essential Hospitals Institute is the research, education, dissemination, and leadership development arm of America’s Essential Hospitals. The Institute supports the nation’s essential hospitals as they provide high-quality, equitable, and affordable care to their communities. Working with members of America’s Essential Hospitals, we identify promising practices from the field, conduct research, disseminate innovative strategies, and help our members improve their organizational performance. We do all of this with an eye toward improving individual and population health, especially for vulnerable people.

Carl Graziano


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Dedicated staff at America's Essential Hospitals work together to produce high-quality, reliable content. Please view the about section for more details about staff.

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