The health care sector is responsible for around 8.5% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. In Switzerland, it's 7% and roughly 5% in other Western countries. 

Rising temperatures and extreme weather events on top of air pollution are expected to contribute to a certain level of disease that has the ability to crush those same health care systems that are already facing a massive shortage of clinicians to tend to the people that are requiring care.  

For health systems confronting inflation, overwhelmed budgets, health inequities, workforce burnout, as well as the pandemic, the investments needed to shift to more sustainable operations can seem insurmountable, and most don't even know where to start.

There are steps to take to start to make a change and achieve value while pushing toward long-term sustainability goals in line with the sector's mission to improve health.

So, how can health systems lessen their climate impact?

Collecting the right data that has the ability to provide an accurate picture of a system's environmental footprint is the first step in developing a sustainability strategy. By measuring their own footprint, organizations are then able to demonstrate transparency.

Once health systems have a more accurate picture of their footprint, they can set targets to reduce water and energy usage, carbon emissions, and medical waste.