Environmental Stewardship

At Providence, we have taken to heart the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si, and are deeply committed to mitigating the environmental impacts of our operations in the communities we serve. We all share the Earth’s bounty and we all suffer when environmental degradation diminishes its beauty and ability to sustain life. We recognize that the U.S. health care system collectively generates 10 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions, leaving a substantial footprint. Our family of organizations has committed to making significant, measurable improvements to our environmental footprint between now and 2030.


Providence has hundreds of caregivers working on decreasing our footprint across our seven states and 51 hospital presence. Improving the health of our communities and caring for our common home is our responsibility.

Our caregivers (all employees) are deeply interested in our progress and in ways they can get involved in caring for our common home. Thanks to them, during 2019 we were able to reduce emissions, begin the shift to renewable energy, cut food waste and more. We know that when we reduce pollution we are not only improving the environment but are also helping to improve the social determinants of health. It is the right thing to do, and we are steadfast in advancing this most vital work. Together, we’ve made significant progress.

  • Advocating for reducing emissions: Providence is playing a lead role in advocating for clean, renewable energy in healthcare nationally, cap-and-trade legislation in Oregon, and clean building and clean fuel standards in Washington. Providence was one of the lead healthcare organizations launching the Washington Healthcare Climate Alliance in 2019 with Healthcare Without Harm and partner organizations. We are also founding Members of The California Healthcare Climate Alliance.
  • Reducing emissions from anesthetic agents: Led by one of our Oregon anesthesiologists, we are greening operating rooms by converting to the use of anesthetic agents with lower greenhouse gas emissions. This change enabled Oregon region hospitals to reduce emissions related to anesthetic gas by 80 percent.
  • Using energy and water more efficiently: We are conducting energy and water assessments at 20 of our larger acute care facilities that consume more than 70 percent of our energy costs. Assessments were completed in Oregon, California and Alaska in 2019 to help us identify and prioritize energy and water efficiency opportunities.
  • Moving data to the cloud: To reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, we are beginning to migrate data from on-site data centers to equally secure storage in the Cloud which are run on renewable energy, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Shifting to renewable energy: Through a new program offered in Washington state by a local electrical utility, we are purchasing renewable energy credits. As of early 2021, the utility program will generate enough wind and solar energy to power 17 Providence facilities, including St. Peter Hospital, our corporate campus in Renton, Swedish Issaquah, Providence Marionwood, and several smaller sites.
  • Cutting food waste: One of our hospitals in California has reduced food waste by donating safe, unused food to local partners. Another in Montana is composting food preparation waste.
  • Increasing recycling: In Western Montana, one hospital achieved a major recycling milestone in  2019 by recycling or safely diverting more than 53 percent of its waste, keeping it out of landfills or incinerators.
 
The Washington-Montana Environmental Stewardship Council (WAMES) collected cost, performance, and environmental data for 2018 and 2019. They tracked seven key areas of environmental stewardship including waste, energy, water, anesthetic agents, single-use device reprocessing, linen, and paper. They measured environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy and water reductions, recycling, and equivalent trees through paper use. Year over year, they saw significant improvement in 2019.
 
Environmental Improvements:
Greenhouse gas emissions - Metric Tons CO2 equivalent 
(MTCO2e) reduced: 23,475
Fewer tons of waste to landfill or incinerator: 296
More tons of waste recycled: 410
Fewer trees used in paper consumption: 3,564

Dollars saved: $3,365,147