May 29, 2019

Creating a healthy, sustainable future for all

Kaiser Permanente receives 10 Environmental Excellence Awards, with Washington’s Bellevue Medical Center receiving its first Practice Greenhealth honor.

Kaiser Permanente knows that climate health has a direct impact on human health. To minimize our environmental impact, Kaiser Permanente makes sustainable choices in many of the ways we operate, — from purchasing food, medical supplies, and equipment to how we manage our buildings, including the types of energy we use and even how we dispose of waste.

At Kaiser Permanente Washington’s Bellevue Medical Center, staff are composting food waste, contributing to a program that recycles Styrofoam — enough to fill a 10-yard dumpster every month — and challenging themselves to make changes to reduce energy use, such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator between floors. That’s on top of the region’s commitment to increase its use of renewable energy, which includes a recent power purchase agreement for wind generation that will cover 40% of its electricity use starting in 2021.

That work earned the Bellevue Medical Center its first Partner for Change Award at the Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm’s annual CleanMed Conference in Nashville. A total of 10 Kaiser Permanente facilities and regions received Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards at the May 2019 event.

“When Bernard Tyson got in front of a global audience last September at the Global Climate Action Summit and said, ‘I'm down with Mother Earth,’ he meant that sustainability is core to our culture across the organization. That opens a lot of doors and drives action from within,” said Matthew Benedict, sustainability manager for Kaiser Permanente Washington.

Also at the CleanMed conference, Health Care Without Harm recognized the physicians, nurses, and staff at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center with its Environmental Health Hero Award for their work to evacuate the hospital and ensure patient safety during the 2017 Tubbs wildfire, even as their own homes were being destroyed. 

“It’s wonderful for Kaiser Permanente to be honored again by Practice Greenhealth for the important work our employees and physicians are doing in our medical centers and across the organization,” said Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente’s vice president for employee safety, health and wellness and its environmental stewardship officer. “The impacts of climate change on human health are very significant and are happening now. I am very proud to work alongside people at every level of our organization who are stepping up and taking action to protect, improve, and advocate for health. Congratulations to all the winners.”

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. Its Environmental Excellence Awards are given each year to honor environmental achievement in the health care sector. Kaiser Permanente has been recognized by Practice Greenhealth for our sustainability work every year since the awards program began in 2002.

The full list of Kaiser Permanente’s Environmental Excellence Awards includes:

The Greenhealth Emerald Award recognizes the top 20 percent of applicants for advanced sustainability programs

  • Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center

The Greening the Operating Room Recognition Award honors facilities that have made substantial progress in reducing the impact of the surgical environment

  • Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center

The Partner for Change Award recognizes superior performance in environmental sustainability

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc.
  • Kaiser Permanente Bellevue Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Ontario Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center
  • Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center

Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Centerip work, visit