February 27, 2012

Pledge to reduce carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2020

Organization works to reduce impact on climate to improve health.

OAKLAND, Calif. As part of its ongoing commitment to improve the health of the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente announced today that it is rolling out an aggressive strategy to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, compared to its 2008 levels. The strategy includes plans to invest in clean and renewable energy sources while also targeting energy conservation measures.

By reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and trimming overall energy consumption, Kaiser Permanente expects to minimize its greenhouse gas emissions, which are known contributors to climate change and the rise of pollution and disease.

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to creating healthy communities, and it’s critical we work to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment,” said Bernard Tyson, president and chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente. “We all take pride in our focus on prevention at Kaiser Permanente, and that includes taking a stand to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Health care activities as a whole contribute 8 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the United States. Kaiser Permanente registered approximately 819,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions during its baseline year (2008), and total emissions increased to 837,000 metric tons in 2010, the most recently reported year. By 2020, Kaiser Permanente aims to reduce its current rate of annual emissions by approximately 264,000 metric tons to achieve the 30 percent reduction target.

To achieve its goal, the organization will pursue cost-effective green building techniques in construction of new buildings, engage in energy conservation and efficiency measures in its existing facilities, and move to on-site and off-site clean and renewable sources of energy where feasible.

“We recognize that, as a health care organization, it is our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment so that we can better protect people’s health,” said Raymond J. Baxter, senior vice president for Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. “Our efforts to minimize our impact on the climate reflect a commitment to the total health of our members and our communities.”

Kaiser Permanente is engaged in on-site solar and fuel-cell energy initiatives throughout California. In 2010, the organization entered into an agreement with Recurrent Energy, and has installed 11 megawatts of solar-generation capacity at 11 Kaiser Permanente facilities in California in one of the largest health care solar installations in the country. In addition, the organization has agreed to deploy four megawatts of fuel-cell generation capacity in a deal that will put fuel cells at seven facilities in California by the end of 2012.

“As a health care provider, we at Kaiser Permanente understand it is our responsibility to work to limit our greenhouse gas emissions even as we grow our health care services,” said Ramé Hemstreet, vice president and chief energy officer at Kaiser Permanente. “These measures will improve the overall health of our communities and reduce our operating costs at the same time.”

Kaiser Permanente is already working to reduce its carbon footprint by:

  • Supporting demand for wind power by purchasing Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Credits that avoided an estimated 12,700 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2011. Kaiser Permanente plans to purchase Green-e Energy Certified RECs that match 100 percent of its expected annual electricity use for two years starting in 2012 in Maryland and the District of Columbia. This will avoid an estimated 19,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
  • Generating two megawatts of power onsite at several medical centers using cogeneration technology. Cogeneration improves energy consumption by 34 percent and reduces carbon dioxide emissions nearly in half.
  • Investing $2.4 million in new lights and window-film installations that are expected to save roughly $1 million each year in energy costs.

Kaiser Permanente has a long history of environmental stewardship. Through its green building efforts, Kaiser Permanente saves more than $10 million per year and has eliminated the purchase and disposal of 40 tons of harmful chemicals in its facilities. For example, the organization has worked with suppliers to virtually eliminate the use of products and equipment that contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin. For more information about Kaiser Permanente’s environmental efforts, go to kp.org/green.