to main content Sustainable Healthcare Certification | The Joint Commission
Across the health care sector, hospitals and health systems are pursuing decarbonization efforts without a common framework for setting priorities, creating baselines, and measuring and documenting greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions across the industry. This certification provides a framework to help organizations expand or continue their decarbonization efforts and to receive public recognition of their commitment and achievements in contributing to environmental sustainability.

Certification Benefits

Achieving Sustainable Healthcare Certification is not only beneficial for the environment but also for the organization's bottom line, patient outcomes, reputation, and compliance efforts. It aligns health care organizations with sustainable practices and positions them as mindful and responsible care providers in an increasingly environmentally conscious world.
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Environmental Impact Reduction

Certification encourages hospitals to focus on reducing their environmental impact by implementing energy-efficient practices. By achieving sustainability goals, hospitals can contribute to the broader efforts of environmental conservation and preservation. 
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Cost Savings

By implementing energy-efficient technologies and optimizing waste management strategies, hospitals can achieve operational efficiencies that result in cost reductions. Health systems may also qualify for tax incentives to finance climate resiliency and renewable energy infrastructure projects. These savings can then be redirected to patient care, infrastructure improvements, research, and other critical areas. 
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Improved Health Outcomes

Sustainable practices in hospitals and health systems can lead to improved health outcomes for patients, staff, and the community. By reducing chemical exposures, improving air quality, and implementing infection control measures, hospitals create healthier environments that promote healing and prevent the transmission of diseases.
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Enhanced Reputation and Community Engagement

Achieving sustainability certification demonstrates a commitment towards responsible and ethical practices. This can enhance the organization’s reputation in the community and attract patients, employees, and stakeholders who prioritize sustainable health care options. 
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Regulatory Compliance and Risk Mitigation

Sustainability programs may require compliance with local, state, or national environmental regulations. By achieving and maintaining certification, hospitals may be able to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations. Moreover, sustainability practices can help mitigate environmental, societal, and financial risks, ensuring that hospitals are prepared to adapt to changing regulatory landscapes and potential disruptions. 

What It Takes to Be Certified

Any hospital or critical access hospital may apply for the voluntary Sustainable Healthcare Certification if the following requirements are met: 

  • The organization must be in the United States, operated by the U.S. government, or operated under a charter of the U.S. Congress. 
  • The organization is a hospital or critical access hospital that is compliant with applicable federal laws, including applicable Medicare Conditions of Participation. 
  • At the time of review, the organization needs to have baseline emissions data for three GHG emission sources and an action plan to reduce.  
  • At the time of recertification, the organization needs to have 24 months of data and demonstrate a reduction of three GHG emission sources. 

Organizations who achieve certification will be required to collect data on 3 of the following types of greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Energy use (fuel combustion)
  • Purchased electricity (purchased grid electricity, district steam, chilled and hot water)
  • Anesthetic gas use, including volatile agents and nitrous oxide
  • Pressurized metered-dose inhaler use
  • Fleet vehicle carbon-based fuel use (from organization owned vehicles)
  • Waste disposal

Certified organizations will convert greenhouse gas measurements to metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e).

We Can Help

We’re here to support you at each step in your journey to develop and improve your sustainability program. Visit our resource center to find practical strategies to help you as you pursue certification and request the prepublication requirements.

Sustainable Healthcare Collaborations

Improving environmental sustainability requires engagement and partnerships across the entire health care industry, as well as with industry stakeholders such as employers, regulators, and community-based organizations. When multiple organizations, from across different aspects of the health care experience, work together for a common goal, we all can achieve more.

,,This certification is meant to recognize those organizations that are initiating or already doing this critical work. Those leading organizations deserve the spotlight, so they can inspire others to follow in their footsteps.,,

Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI - President and CEO - The Joint Commission Enterprise

The Joint Commission's commitment to advance sustainable health care extends beyond our newest certification. We joined other health care organizations in signing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Sector Climate Pledge to reduce our own carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.