The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recognized Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) for its public commitments to decarbonizing its operations and improving resilience in the face of climate change.
As part of the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), HHS announced December 3 that SBUH was one of more than 130 organizations to join the White House-HHS Health Sector climate pledge, committing to align with the Biden administration’s goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
SBUH continues to lead the way in tackling emissions and is already working to achieve climate resilience through a number of initiatives, including:
“At Stony Brook University Hospital, our longstanding commitment to sustainability has proven to be successful,” said Stony Brook University Hospital Chief Executive Officer Carol Gomes. “Our patients and the communities we serve are the beneficiaries of the work that we’ve accomplished for decades, and we are widely considered by many as a sustainability leader in the healthcare field. We are excited to be part of this significant initiative committed to facing climate change while continuing to provide the highest quality care for our patients.”
This year, SBUH was once again recognized by Practice Greenhealth as a national leader in environmental sustainability and earned the 2023 Greenhealth Emerald Award. This award recognizes the hospital, as part of the top 20 percent, for its ongoing commitment to improving its environmental performance and efforts to build sustainability and resiliency into the operations and culture of the institution. The hospital also received top honors in Practice Greenhealth’s Circles of Excellence Awards, which recognize hospitals that have not only earned an award for all-around sustainability achievement but have also been identified as one of up to the 10 highest performing hospitals nationwide in each area of sustainability expertise.
This past spring, Stony Brook University was selected as the anchor institution for developing The New York Climate Exchange, the hub of the Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island.
A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change the number one threat to global public health. It exposes millions of people in the United States to harm every year—with disproportionate impacts on communities that are often already the victims of longstanding discrimination—through increases in extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions. The healthcare sector also contributes to climate change itself, accounting for approximately 8.5% of U.S. domestic emissions.
The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help focus industry response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.
One hundred and thirty-three (133) prominent health companies in the U.S. have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 900 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Military Health System (MHS) are working together to meet similar goals to those private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, this means that more than 1,110 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing more than 15% of U.S. hospitals.