Supporting Your Sustainability Journey

Environmental awareness within the health care sector is growing. America’s hospitals are working together to become more sustainable by adopting environmental, social and fiduciary practices. AHA is helping our members - more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems across the country - take meaningful actions to improve the health of all people — and the environment in which they live — by setting a sustainable course for the future.

Here, you’ll find insights and resources to embrace sustainability in health care across a hospital or health system enterprise – in operations, procurement, purchasing, maintenance and new models of care.

What is sustainability in health care?

  • In health care, sustainability refers to the integration of environmental stewardship, social equity and fiduciary responsibility to support healthy, equitable and resilient environments and communities over time.
  • Sustainability in health care is based on a simple principle: Everything that humans need for their survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on the natural environment.
  • To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony

Why and how does environmental sustainability affect health care?

Problem: The environment contributes to people's wellbeing, contributing to chronic diseases, such as asthma and cancer, or to acute illnesses like heat exhaustion.

Solution: Everyone, including hospitals, needs to be a part of the solution and make changes that will help improve the environment.

Premise: Hospitals can reduce carbon emissions significantly with simple changes, such as reducing surgical waste, reducing toxic chemicals and installing life-saving renewable energy sources.

Reason: Hospital and health systems engaged in sustainable practices are doing so largely because it aligns with their humanitarian and stewardship mission and vision. Becoming a positive force for environmental health leads to human health and wellbeing.

Getting Started

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The Basics

“Where do we start?” is a common question when embarking on a sustainability journey. These basic concepts will help guide hospitals, health systems and their staffs as they practice environmental sustainability.

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Mapping Out Your Path Forward

No two organizations embark on the same route to becoming sustainable, however the process for approaching the journey can be similar. Begin with an understanding of what has been done and what needs to be done, and develop and deploy a path forward using these tools.

Targeted Tools and Resources:

Opportunities for Change:


  • Sustainability Accelerator Tool (SAT), developed by the Geneva Sustainability Centre in collaboration to Deloitte. Use it to assess sustainability maturity, track progress and gain insights to accelerate action.
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HealQuest brings together hospital leaders and cross-functional teams for two-days of hands-on learning to promote cultural changes toward sustainability.

4-tier Training Program Offers Guidance on:

  • Culture and accountability
  • Uncovering energy opportunities
  • Leadership engagement
  • Promoting behavior change
  • Leadership engagement

Learn How All Levels of Your Organization Contribute to Sustainability

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Trustees are uniquely positioned to tackle sustainability in health care by articulating it’s value proposition and strengthening culture using these resources.

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Executive Leadership

Hospital leaders must navigate a path forward to make health care sustainable a priority. Environmental sustainability can provide near- and long-term financial savings, improve patient care and increase workforce engagement.

These resources offer health care leaders actionable information driving positive changes.

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The American Society for Heath Care Engineering offers an environmental sustainability repository, featuring the Energy to Care program, decarbonization resources and training, for facility management professionals.

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Resiliency and Preparedness

In moments of crisis in a community, hospitals serve as the cornerstone of aid and recovery. Hospitals and health systems can prepare for extreme weather events by deploying proven sustainable and resilient practices. These articles examine the impact of climate change and share best practices.

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With scope 3 emissions representing the lion’s share of health care emissions, supply chain professionals play a critical role to create and maintain a more resilient and sustainable health care system. Here you’ll find environmental sustainability resources for the health care supply chain.

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The Association for the Health Care Environment offers resources for environmental services professionals on addressing health care’s environmental impact while providing a clean, safe space for patients, visitors, and staff.