According to the organization, this move to carbon neutrality eliminates its 800,000-ton annual carbon footprint. The US health care industry overall is responsible for roughly 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent research from Yale University.
In order to reach this milestone, Kaiser Permanente first improved energy efficiency in its buildings, installed on-site solar power, and made long-term purchases of new renewable energy generation. In fact, six years ago, Kaiser Permanente signaled that the Oakland, California-based health care system would seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for new construction of hospitals, large medical offices, and other major projects.
Kaiser Permanente then invested in carbon offsets to counter the currently unavoidable emissions from the natural gas power that heats and cools its hospitals. The carbon offsets were chosen for their strong health benefits. One project funds clay pot water filters in Guatemala that avoid burning wood or gas to boil water, and also reduce fatal childhood waterborne diseases. Another project prevents Indonesian peatland from conversion into high-pollution palm oil production while funding a floating health clinic for riverside communities.
Looking forward, Kaiser Permanente will expand its focus by reducing its Scope 3 footprint, including its supply chain. The organization will identify a Science-Based Target for additional emissions reductions in 2021.