The road to carbon neutral

As Kaiser Permanente celebrates eliminating its carbon footprint, take a look back at the steppingstones that made this achievement possible.

The road to carbon neutral

As Kaiser Permanente celebrates eliminating its carbon footprint, take a look back at the steppingstones that made this achievement possible.

Without a healthy planet, we can’t expect to have healthy people. Minimizing our environmental impact permeates the choices we make every day, from how we power our facilities and where we purchase food and medical supplies to how we manage waste and invest in our communities.

1950s

Air pollution control equipment installed

Henry J. Kaiser approved installation of $5 million worth of air pollution control equipment at the Kaiser Steel Mill in Fontana, California.

1970s

Ecology Committee formed

Employees at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center formed the Ecology Committee with the objective of teaching employees “ecological common sense.”

1977

Solar water heating system installed

At Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center, the solar installation for water heating — built in-house by engineering staff — was one the largest of its kind at a U.S. health care facility.

1980

Pioneered using solar power for a health facility

Kaiser Permanente celebrated the launch of an onsite solar thermal project at Santa Clara Medical Center in the middle of Silicon Valley.

2002

Recognized for green practices

Practice Greenhealth began its Environmental Excellence Awards program. Kaiser Permanente has received awards across many categories every year since this inception — for a total of 337 awards. 

2003

Introduced first farmers market at a U.S. hospital

Recognizing the connection between food and health, Preston Maring, MD, started a farmers market at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, making fresh, whole foods that are grown without pesticides accessible to more people. Today, more than 50 farmers markets providing locally grown food operate at our facilities, which also helps the environment by reducing the distance food travels. 

2010

Made major solar investment; began rating suppliers’ impact

Kaiser Permanente made its first major solar investment and began requiring that medical product suppliers complete sustainability scorecards. The scorecards provide information on suppliers’ recycling policies and use of potentially harmful chemicals. This allows the organization to evaluate the sustainability of items purchased and encourages suppliers to provide greener products.

2012

Committed to reducing emissions by 30%

Kaiser Permanente adopted a national sustainable energy policy and launched an ambitious strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 compared to 2008 levels.

2015

Investing in wind and solar energy

Kaiser Permanente supported the construction and operation of 3 new renewable energy projects to generate 590 million kilowatt hours of power a year — equivalent to the electricity used by 82,000 American homes annually.

2016

Carbon neutral goal announced

Kaiser Permanente pledged to become carbon neutral in 2020. The plan included buying enough clean energy and funding projects that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to offset the carbon dioxide we emit. We also committed to recycling, reusing, and composting 100% of nonhazardous waste as well as obtaining all of our foods from local sustainable farmers and sending zero waste to landfills.

2017

First LEED Platinum hospital in California

Kaiser Permanente opened the San Diego Medical Center — a 7-story, 617,000-square-foot hospital — as California’s first LEED Platinum certified hospital. The entire design focused on cleaner, greener energy by using cutting-edge technologies to produce its own electricity, heat, and cooling, and to save water and use less energy overall. As of 2020 there are 40 LEED certified buildings in the Kaiser Permanente portfolio.

2018

First renewable hospital microgrid in California

To reduce pollution and emissions, Kaiser Permanente installed California’s first renewable hospital microgrid, which collects, stores, and releases energy on demand. Located in our Richmond Medical Center parking garage, the microgrid operates even if the power grid goes down.

2018

Sponsored Global Climate Action Summit

Kaiser Permanente’s late CEO Bernard J. Tyson emphasized the link between climate change and health as Kaiser Permanente sponsored the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

At the event, Tyson spoke about Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to addressing climate change, and shared a video illustrating the health risks attributed to the climate crisis.                                                                                                                                             

2019

Earned EPA Green Power Leadership Award

Kaiser Permanente received recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency for its extensive use of renewable energy. This was the third EPA award we earned during the decade.

2019

Adopted use of low-polluting anesthesia gases

In Northern California, Kaiser Permenante adopted a policy to use effective anesthesia gases that produce less pollution. About 3% of Kaiser Permanente’s greenhouse gas emissions come from gases used during medical procedures.

2020

Achieved carbon neutral status

Kaiser Permanente achieved carbon neutrality! We improved our energy use efficiency 8% since 2013, saving $19.6 million annually, and decreased water use intensity 15.3%, saving $2.8 million annually. Our hospitals, medical buildings, and offices no longer have a carbon footprint, which is equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road. Along the way Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians have contributed by reducing, conserving, and innovating.