US Hospitals Can Receive New Sustainable Healthcare Certification

An emergency entrance sign at a hospital

by | Sep 19, 2023

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After requests from the healthcare industry, the Joint Commission has launched a voluntary Sustainable Healthcare Certification (SHC) program for U.S. hospitals.

The certification is intended to serve healthcare organizations that want to accelerate their sustainable practices and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The program is available to Joint Commission-accredited and non-Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals.

The certification provides a framework for healthcare organizations on their sustainability efforts, as well as public recognition for their commitments to sustainability. The Joint Commission is a body that works with other healthcare stakeholders to evaluate healthcare organizations, certifying more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States.

To receive the certification, organizations must meet the requirements, including having priorities and governance for their sustainability initiatives, creating baselines to measure three GHG emission sources, and developing an action plan to reduce their GHG emissions.

Healthcare organizations that prioritize sustainability can see a number of benefits beyond receiving a certification, such as cost savings, operational efficiencies, and potential tax credits and payment from new federal incentives. Additionally, there are health benefits for patients, as climate change tends to more heavily burden those with adverse social determinants of care. 

“We want to work with the momentum of healthcare organizations leading the way in sustainability excellence – inspiring and guiding others that want to prioritize greener practices,” Jonathan B. Perlin, president and chief executive officer, of the Joint Commission Enterprise, said in a statement. “Healthcare is one of the largest sectors in the United States and one dedicated to improving people’s health and well-being. … Together, we can collectively reduce the healthcare sector’s carbon footprint and reduce hospital visits, illnesses, premature deaths, and medical costs from severe weather events and other climate impacts.” 

The Joint Commission launched the Sustainable Healthcare Resource Center, with key strategies, tools, literature, videos, and links for healthcare organizations to move forward on their sustainability efforts. The resource center can also help organizations as they prepare for the SHC.

U.S. hospitals can apply for the new certification beginning Jan. 1, 2024. Interested hospitals can also complete a pre-application form before that date. 

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