In keeping with its mission to help people live well, UCC-related Advocate Aurora Health announced today a commitment to power its health care operations with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. The health system’s 27 hospitals and more than 500 sites of outpatient care extend from Northeast Wisconsin to Central Illinois.
“Clean power produces clean air, and clean air helps save lives,” says Bill Santulli, chief operating officer of Advocate Aurora Health. “This commitment builds upon our strong track record of leadership in sustainability and environmental stewardship.”
Advocate Aurora Health is the first health system in Illinois to publicly announce such a goal. It joins other health care leaders in Wisconsin, the United States, and around the world in reducing health care’s environmental and climate impacts. Achieving this goal would reduce Advocate Aurora Health’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 392,657 metric tons, equal to removing over 84,000 passenger cars from the road each year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
“As the 10th largest not-for-profit integrated health system in the country, it’s imperative that we help lead the way toward a healthy environment that can support healthy people. Transitioning to clean energy reduces air pollution that is responsible for many chronic health conditions and mitigates the health impacts of climate change,” says Mary Larsen, director of environmental affairs and sustainability. “Accelerating our work to make good on this pledge is just another way we will support the health and wellness of the patients and communities we are privileged to serve.”
One of the chronic health conditions aggravated by air pollution is asthma, a significant health issue in several communities across the Midwest and the nation. In addition to dedicating resources to the prevention, detection and treatment of asthma through traditional health care operations, Advocate Aurora Health physicians view this transition to clean energy as another tactic in the fight against asthma – both for patients in Wisconsin and Illinois and for wider society.
Over the next decade, all major Advocate Aurora Health construction and renovation projects will be evaluated for the addition of on-site renewables and implemented when financially feasible. The system will likely use a combination of on-site, off-site, and purchased renewable electricity to meet its goal, in line with other health system approaches to renewable energy. These efforts will be accompanied by a continued focus on energy efficiency, which lowers overall energy demand by its facilities.
Advocate Aurora Health is a member of the Health Care Climate Council and among 180 participants — representing the interests of more than 17,000 hospitals and health centers in 26 countries — that have accepted the Health Care Climate Challenge, which mobilizes health care institutions to protect public health from climate change. Six Advocate Aurora Health hospitals were recently named among the 60 greenest in the nation by Becker’s Hospital Review.