Implementing sustainability strategies in health care facilities doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Identifying the leverage points for emission reductions and sustainability initiatives will uncover cost savings and, ultimately, reduce carbon emissions.

Emissions scopes. Emissions are categorized as either Scope 1, Scope 2 or Scope 3. Scope 1 includes emissions emanating directly from facility operations. Natural gas, diesel generators, refrigerants and medical gas systems fall into this category. Scope 2 includes emissions from purchased energy sources. Examples of Scope 2 sources include electricity, steam, and heating and cooling. Scopes 1 and 2 are relatively easy to track and manage compared to Scope 3. Scope 3 emissions are those that derive from the health care supply chain through the production, transportation and disposal of goods and services.

Where to begin. Tracking data is the first step to understanding a facility’s energy use and carbon emissions. This is done by measuring the amount of fuel being consumed and comparing it to the amount that is either generated or purchased. This information can be found in utility bills, purchasing invoices and procurement contracts. Data can be entered into the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s Energy to Care® Dashboard or the government’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager.

Low-hanging fruit. Once tracking energy and carbon, identify low- to no-cost projects the facility can employ, such as LED lighting upgrades and heating, ventilation and air conditioning setbacks.

Go beyond energy. Examples include daylighting, which is proven to have benefits beyond energy efficiency, such as resource conservation. Develop a waste management system to reroute materials that can be reused rather than going to the landfill. 

For more information and resources regarding sustainability, energy efficiency and decarbonization, professionals can visit

Austin Wallace sustainability senior specialist, American Society for Health Care Engineering.