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SBUH Recognized for Commitment to Decarbonization to Achieve Climate Resilience

stony brook university hospital
stony brook university hospital
Credit: Stony Brook Medicine

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has once again been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 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 shared that SBUH was one of more than 130 organizations that have joined the White House–HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, committing to align with the Biden administration’s goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“Stony Brook University Hospital is proud to stand by the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to make environmental changes that benefit not only our planet, but also our patients, employees and communities for years to come,” said Carol Gomes, chief executive officer, Stony Brook University Hospital. “Sustainability works best when it is a team effort. We drive solutions for a sustainable future with our collective commitment with our staff, patients, visitors, students and vendors.”

SBUH continues to lead the way in tackling emissions and is already working to achieve climate resilience through a number of initiatives, including:

Last 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.

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 percent 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.

To date, 139 prominent health companies in the U.S. have signed the White House–HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 943 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service, Veterans Health Administration and Military Health System are working together to meet similar goals to those that private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, this means that more than 1,180 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, together representing more than 15 percent of U.S. hospitals.

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