Passionate About Protecting the Environment and Our Communities’ Health
Climate change and environmental degradation are known threats to human health. The Center for the Environment and Health at Massachusetts General Hospital acknowledges climate change as a public health crisis. As a major academic medical center, a purchaser of supplies and materials, a consumer of significant energy and a generator of waste, Mass General has a responsibility to its patients and staff, and to its local and global communities to be environmentally responsible.
To oversee and advance the hospital’s sustainability efforts, the center—led by a group of hospital and clinical leaders—is comprised of representatives from throughout the institution involved in environmental efforts. In collaboration with Mass General Brigham, the Center coordinates the breadth of sustainability programs large and small that are ongoing at the hospital, expands those that are most effective, and proposes and considers bold and innovative new initiatives.
Through the efforts of the center, Mass General strives to integrate sustainability into all aspects of its mission in order to improve the environmental health of the hospital, as well as the health and well-being of the diverse communities it serves. In addition, the center promotes gathering appropriate data, disseminating new knowledge and learning the best ways to approach environmental issues from the health and health care perspectives.
Guided by Our Pillars
The Center for the Environment and Health pursues its mission with the guidance of its four pillars:
Deliver health care in an environment-friendly way and serve as a model for others.
Create new knowledge about the inextricable links between the environment and health as well as how to deliver health care sustainably.
Engage and educate employees, patients and families on the connections between the environment and health and how to work and live sustainably.
Advocate for a healthy environment for everyone, particularly those who have been disproportionately and unjustly harmed by pollution.
Connecting Human Health to the Health of the Planet
The Mass General Center for the Environment and Health aims to make sustainability a core consideration for all of our clinical and non-clinical actions. Ultimately, with a comprehensive sustainability program, the center’s specific efforts include initiatives to accomplish the following:
- Leverage evidence-based best practices and global standards to make a positive impact on the natural environment
- Set science-based measurable goals and report on performance regularly in order to ensure accountability, transparency and innovation
- Collaborate with others in health care and across industries
- Educate individuals and influence public policy to improve the health of Mass General and Greater Boston area
- Encourage all employees to participate in sustainability efforts and empower them to become advocates
- Advocate for the protection of human health through environmental conservation
- Create new knowledge in sustainability science and at the intersection of the environment and human health
A Brief History of Sustainability Efforts at Mass General
2021: The Center for the Environment and Health is formed
The center grew out of the steadily increasing recognition that the links between the environmental crises and health represents one of the greatest public health threats facing us now and in the future. Individuals in various roles at Mass General were already involved in environmental efforts of various scopes, including science, policy, advocacy, operations and clinical care. By January 2021, the Center for the Environment and Health was officially founded—the result of efforts that had been years in the making.
2019: The formation of the Executive Sustainability Committee
In April 2019, the Mass General Executive Sustainability Committee was formed with the goal of advancing environmental sustainability throughout the hospital.
2018: Renewable sources of electricity
In 2018, Mass General sources 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.
2017: The concept for the center is born
The concept for the Center for the Environment and Health was developed when a group of Mass General staff members convened in the pursuit of advancing the hospital’s commitment to sustainability. This inaugural team created the first set of goals that would later become the center’s core initiatives.
2016: Significant reduction in waste
Under the leadership of Bill Banchiere, former director of Mass General Environmental Services, the hospital recycled 581 tons of cardboard, 612 tons of paper, 380 tons of food, 1,147 tons of construction waste and 849 tons of medical waste.
2010: Mass General founded the Healthier Hospitals Initiative
Mass General, through Mass General Brigham, is a founding member of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, which works to provide guidance to and encourage health care organizations to move toward sustainability by choosing meaningful goals, adopting best practices and measuring progress.
2010: Raising Environmental Awareness League
Mass General started the Raising Environmental Awareness League to focus on sustainability efforts across the hospital.
2008: Goal set to reduce energy consumption by 25% by 2020
Mass General set a goal of reducing energy consumption 25% by 2020—an ambitious undertaking. Mass General reached that goal in just five years.
The Center for the Environment and Health works with leadership at Mass General to integrate environmental sustainability into the clinical, research and educational activities of the hospital.