Climate Resilience

Cleveland Clinic recognizes that the healthcare sector will be directly and indirectly affected by the impacts of climate change. Children, the elderly and the disadvantaged will be most at risk, and we are likely to see increases in heat-related disorders, respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, food insecurity, and mental health issues.

As a leader in healthcare, we understand we have an important role to play, and our response to these challenges will guide the evolution of our organization in the coming decades. We will continue to lead our sector and explore creative solutions to environmental challenges that benefit our community and support economic health. Our efforts are strategically aligned with those of our community, providing opportunities to collaborate, innovate and form meaningful shared goals.

Energy Efficiency

In 2015, Cleveland Clinic continued implementing a $12M enterprise energy demand reduction strategy to improve our energy efficiency and become less resource-intensive. By decreasing energy intensity, Cleveland Clinic is reducing our carbon footprint, providing value for our patients and leading the industry in responsible healthcare operations. As of December 2015, we have reduced our EUI by 12.4% from our 2010 baseline.

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Carbon Mitigation

Scope 1 & 2 CO2 Emissions Improvement from 2012 Baseline

Cleveland Clinic’s 2015 scope 1 & 2 carbon footprint totaled 452,062 metric tons of CO2e. This is a 4.5% reduction from 2014 and an 8.4% reduction from 2012. 75% of our footprint is from purchased electricity, 23% is from direct usage of fuels in assets owned by Cleveland Clinic and 2% is from anesthesia gases. More than 96% of our carbon footprint is located in NorthEast Ohio in our Hospitals, Family Health Centers, Medical Office Buildings and Administrative Facilities.

Cleveland Clinic Carbon Footprint

Cleveland Clinic calculated its scope 1 & 2 carbon footprint using the GHG protocol for electricity, natural gas, fuels used by generators and vehicles and anesthesia gases. ENERGYSTAR’s Portfolio Manager was used to calculate the electricity carbon footprint since it utilizes site specific eGRID factors for each location. For locations not tracked in portfolio manager a system average factor was applied to the electricity usage. Natural gas footprint was calculated using fuel usage for our owned fleet of patient transport vehicles, vans and cars was drawn from our central fleet management group. Anesthesia gas emissions were calculated based on purchased cylinder volumes and intensity factors from “Carbon Footprint from Anesthetic gas use” study published by UK’s Sustainable Development Unit in 2012.

Ohio’s total carbon footprint in 2011 was 233 million metric tons according to the US EPA. Thus, Cleveland Clinic’s scope 1 and 2 footprint would represent 0.2% of Ohio’s total carbon footprint.

Healthcare Climate Council

In 2015, Cleveland Clinic joined Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Council. The council is open to hospitals and health systems that recognize climate change is one of the single largest threats to public health and committed to addressing its health impacts. The council’s mission is to amplify public and private responses to climate change by:

  • Accelerating investment in renewable energy and efficiency;
  • Scaling the healthcare sector’s adoption of climate change mitigation and resilience programs; and
  • Advocating for local, state and national policies that ensure a sustainable and healthy future

As a leader in healthcare and an anchor institution in our communities, Cleveland Clinic recognizes that our response to these challenges will guide the evolution of our organization in the coming decades. We look forward to collaborating with other council health systems.

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Clean Power Plan Advocacy

When the White House, Environmental Protection Agency and Surgeon General wanted to explore the effects of climate change on health, they reached out to nationally recognized experts in a variety of fields. Our own Sumita Khatri, MD, co-director of the Asthma Center, represented the voice of the physician, and ultimately the patient.

Sumita traveled to the nation’s capital to participate in a summit on climate change and the important role the public health community can play in communicating and preventing its impact. She described the respiratory effects she sees in her practice, but more importantly, what our role should be in addressing the problem.

In closing her remarks, she said, “We should all strive to make our practices and our policies result in the cleanest air possible so that collateral good from these efforts can have positive downstream health effects on our most valuable currency — our people.”

The Clean Power Plan will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector 30% from 2005 levels. Because carbon pollution contains many other particles that are dangerous to health, the Clean Power Plan will avoid:

  • 3,600 Premature Deaths
  • 1,700 Heart Attacks
  • 90,000 Asthma Attacks
  • 300,000 Missed Work & School Days

The Clean Power Plan is the cornerstone to the United States’ climate change commitment during December 2015’s Communication of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France, where leaders from around the world came together to agree to limit global carbon emissions.

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Patient & Community Risk Dashboard

prevalnce of heart related illness chart

Climate change poses both direct and indirect risks to human health across the globe. In 2015, Cleveland Clinic partnered with Four-Twenty Seven, a consulting firm dedicated to building climate resilience through social innovation, and several other healthcare systems across the United States to better understand and communicate the character of risks that may affect our ability to deliver healthcare services in the face of climate change.

The dashboard combines diagnosis coding data from all of our Northeast Ohio and Florida hospitals with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate modeling data. It provides analysis on several risks concerning extreme temperature, increased precipitation, heat-related illness, air-quality related illness, flooding, healthcare access, and bed surge capacity.

We are using this dashboard to help support our continuity, emergency preparedness, and climate resilience efforts. It is also an excellent engagement tool with our caregivers that visually expresses the inherent link between human health and the health of the environment. We believe this dashboard continues to help Cleveland Clinic put patients first by addressing climate risks that may impact patient care, and provides a snapshot of the immediate climate-related risks that most affect our hospitals and communities.

Energy Supply Redundancy

Cleveland Clinic main campus runs on two electrical substations—both running near capacity with dated assets. Cleveland Clinic has developed a program to provide a reliable and efficient electric-utility source throughout our facilities to better serve our patients, visitors and caregivers. In conjunction with First Energy, Cleveland Clinic is building a new power-distribution system called the Ring Bus that surrounds our main campus in downtown Cleveland. Conduit and conductors will support four Cleveland Clinic-owned substations, each housing our transformers and electrical distribution equipment. Over time Cleveland Clinic will transition all existing buildings to the new Ring Bus substations. The Ring Bus project ultimately delivers a more reliable, redundant electric supply, with a greater capacity to support Cleveland Clinic’s needs into the future.

Health and Human Services Toolkit

Cleveland Clinic worked with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a Climate Resilience Toolkit for Healthcare. Bill Peacock, Cleveland Clinic Chief of Operations, represented our enterprise with other healthcare leaders in a discussion including Secretary Burwell of HHS and John Podesta from the White House. We signed up for President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to implement these tools and lead the sector in preparing for the health challenges presented by climate change.

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Small Changes = Big Impact

Our CEO and President, Dr. Toby Cosgrove recently blogged on our climate change and energy efficiency progress on his Linkedin page.

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Climate Resilience Toolkit

Climate Resilience Toolkit

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Cleveland Clinic reduced its scope 1 & 2 carbon footprint 4.5% from 2014 and 8.4% from 2012!