Advocate Aurora Health Pledges Net Zero Emissions by 2050

Advocate Aurora Health, based in Downers Grove, Ill., and Milwaukee, Wis., is pledging to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050. Made through the White House’s and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Care Sector pledge, this commitment by one of the country’s largest health systems underscores its resolution to make sweeping health and equity improvements across the communities it serves.

Advocate Aurora plans to meet these goals by reducing emissions produced by its 500+ sites of care through energy efficiency and by using renewable electricity, as well as through efforts in purchased goods and services, waste streams, investments, transportation and travel, and more.

“Climate change not only represents one of the greatest public health threats of the 21st century, but also disproportionately hurts economically disadvantaged communities,” Advocate Aurora Health President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh said. “As part of our commitment to advancing equity and helping people live well, we’re working every day to increase sustainability and preserve our natural resources for our communities today and for generations to come.”

The health care sector is responsible for 8.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, a reality which undermines its mission to uphold and improve human health. Working to achieve net zero emissions is an important element of Advocate Aurora’s larger commitment to build healthier communities by supporting the social and economic factors that contribute to well-being, including access to affordable housing, healthy food, behavioral health resources and more.

Advocate Aurora — which has been regularly honored by Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care — has previously committed to power its operations with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and is an industry leader in sustainable construction.

Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 builds upon these earlier commitments by reinforcing the system’s focus on drastically reducing emissions across its entire footprint, including operations and supply chain.

“By establishing ambitious goals through the Health Care Sector Pledge, we’re taking another important step toward progress and positive social and environmental impact,” Chief Spiritual Officer Kathie Bender Schwich said.

To date, Advocate Aurora has accomplished notable improvements in sustainability, including eight locations with LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), 10 hospitals achieving ENERGY STAR certification, five locations hosting solar panels, and multiple campuses supporting community gardens. The system has also reduced its waste anesthetic gas emissions by 75 percent since 2017, avoiding the equivalent of 21 million miles of driving.

“While we’re proud of these accomplishments, we, along with the rest of the health care sector, must step up and take even bolder action to protect our patients, team members and communities from the worst effects of climate change,” Advocate Aurora Health Chief Operating Officer Bill Santulli said.

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