There are many compelling pressures and emerging trends pushing health care organizations to embark on a transformative journey toward decarbonizing operations and mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With health care responsible for 8.5% of U.S. GHG emissions, the imperative for change is clear.

While the path to decarbonization presents financial and operational challenges, strategic investments promise substantial long-term cost savings and commendable environmental benefits. 

Several of the unknowns include how participation in this work will impact for-profit and nonprofit organizations. As noted in the accompanying article, legislative landscapes further underscore this shift, with 33 states implementing emissions reduction plans and pioneering policies emerging in New York City and Washington state. The recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act extends a lifeline to nonprofit entities, offering access to clean energy tax credits covering 30% of project costs, coupled with incentives to enhance building energy efficiency. 

This financial support is vital due to the consistent under-investment in infrastructure in the nonprofit world. This legislative leverage empowers hospitals to proactively engage in clean energy initiatives, propelling the health care sector toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. 

As environmental, industry and policy pressures converge, health care organizations are urged to not only measure, reduce and transparently report GHG emissions but also to embrace new legislation and incentives that act as catalysts for a rapid transition to sustainable, environmentally conscious operations.

Lastly, the question that is probably on everyone’s mind is what is occurring in the rest of the world. The answer to this may be exposed as a result of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP28), that occurred in late 2023. The conference focus continues to be around how to mitigate the 1.5 C change that is predicted to be the tipping point of climate change weather events.