The best way to obtain the necessary knowledge and support for a strong sustainable energy program is to form a multidisciplinary team that brings together the expertise of several disciplines within the health system, including facilities staff, finance, supply chain/purchasing, public health professionals and a sustainability director.

With this committee or green team in place, a hospital will have the necessary internal experts aligned to set its sustainability targets and to make sound decisions about how to finance the pathways needed to meet the organization’s objectives.

An important early step is to create a baseline and develop an understanding of initial conditions. From there, facilities professionals can classify their emissions reduction strategies and quantify the benefits. 

If a hospital is just starting out on its sustainability journey, the first action may be an accounting of current emissions. When creating a greenhouse gas accounting report, it is helpful to distinguish between scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions.

  • Scope 1 emissions describe those that come from campus operations. 
  • Scope 2 emissions are associated with electricity delivered to the hospital through the grid. 
  • Scope 3 emissions come from the supply chain. 

Scopes 1 and 2 are the easiest to measure and reduce, while scope 3 (which is beyond the focus of this article) takes more time and effort to address. 

To be successful, it is important to first identify and articulate what the facility is trying to achieve. 

The best strategic investment follows aspirational goals. It also is process oriented, because the desired destination may take several steps to achieve and involve solving and financing other projects along the way. The strategic outcome will impact not only current operations but the care environment as it evolves.

The process of determining the best strategic investment will ideally identify the most vital energy projects that impact the delivery of care, reduce energy costs and eliminate carbon emissions. 

Once a list of projects has been developed, it is vitally important to appropriately prioritize that list according to the organization’s highest value. As the number of available projects changes, the list should be continually reranked and prioritized to the highest value.