Healthcare is responsible for 8.5% of U.S. carbon emissions and 4.5% of global emissions.Climate-changing emissions have negative impacts on human health, especially on vulnerable populations. We create healthier communities for everyone in part by reducing our carbon footprint and promoting resilience. Our initiatives include energy efficiency, clean energy, green transportation and tree planting initiatives. We also collaborate within our industry and externally to formulate and support efforts to reduce healthcare emissions.

1 Eckelman, M. J., et al. “Health care pollution and public health damage in the United States: An update”, December 2020, Health Affairs 39(12), accessed 14 September 2023, doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.01247.

Measuring & Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Measuring & Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Since 2010, we have decreased our carbon emissions intensity—or CO₂ equivalents (CO₂e) generated per 1,000 square feet of building space—by 32% and our total emissions by 22%.

In 2022, Cleveland Clinic emitted 132,497 metric tons of scope 1 and 293,054 metric tons of scope 2 CO₂e for a total of 425,551 metric tons of CO₂e, an increase of 1.4% from 2021. Our emissions intensity ratio in 2022 was 19.3 compared with 19.0 in 2021. We adjusted our baseline in 2021 to include natural gas and electricity consumption from all of our Florida facilities—including family health centers—and Mercy and Union hospitals. Additionally, we adjusted our electricity factor to a weighted average of Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) data tied to our locations by state. Our scope 1 emissions, or CO₂e generated from on-site combustion and consumption, include emissions from natural gas, generator fuel, fleet vehicle fuels and anesthesia gases. Our scope 2 emissions, or CO₂e generated from utility providers, include emissions from purchased electricity and steam.

Cleveland Clinic CO2 emissions.

In 2022, we formed decarbonization project teams focused on reducing our scope 3 carbon emissions from our purchased goods and services, investments, capital goods and employee commuting.

Green Transportation

Green Transportation

Cleveland Clinic employs more than 77,000 caregivers, the majority of whom conduct their daily commute to work by vehicle. We provide the following green transportation programs, incentives and infrastructure to support our caregivers in reducing their transportation footprint:

  • Carpool Program: Participating caregivers split the total monthly parking fee for their assigned area, and carpools with four members park for free.
  • Clean Vehicle Rebate: Full-time caregivers with at least one year of service can receive a rebate on the purchase of a SmartWay Elite qualifying vehicle (the 20% of passenger vehicle models that are lowest-emitting each year). Rebates include $1,000 for the purchase of a new vehicle or $500 for a used vehicle.
  • Gohio Commute: This Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency platform allows caregivers to track the carbon impact of their daily commutes and offers information on greener transportation options in Northeast Ohio. Caregivers can also connect with one another via the platform to coordinate carpooling, vanpooling, public transit or biking trips.
  • LEED Parking Discount: Caregivers who drive a vehicle with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) score above 45 for their daily commute are eligible to apply for a 20% parking discount.
  • Public Transit: To promote public transit via bus, rail, Park-N-Ride and trolley, caregivers can purchase fares via payroll deduction pre-tax through the RTA Commuter Advantage Program.

In recognition of our green transportation efforts, including caregiver incentives for carpooling and purchasing alternative-fuel vehicles, Cleveland Clinic received a bronze NEO Commuter Choice Award from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in 2022.

In addition to employee commuting, we also focus on improving the efficiency of our fleet vehicles and promoting greener transportation in our communities. Some of our fleet vehicle efforts include optimizing routes and upgrading vehicles to more fuel-efficient models when they are due for replacement.

In 2022, Cleveland Clinic began installing Level 2 EV charging stations at 22 of its Northeast Ohio locations with support from an Ohio EPA grant offered to improve Ohioans' access to EV charging infrastructure. In addition to the grant-funded stations, Cleveland Clinic also installed Level 2 EV charging stations at our new Mentor Hospital. The stations will serve as an amenity for patients, caregivers and visitors, and align with Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to clean air and healthy communities. We also continued to work with neighboring organizations in the University Circle area of Cleveland to promote safe and sustainable transportation options through our membership with the Sustainable Transportation Action Committee.

Community Tree Planting

Community Tree Planting

Cleveland Clinic is a member of the Cleveland Tree Coalition, a community-wide collaborative of stakeholders supporting the City of Cleveland in restoring and growing a healthy, vibrant, sustainable and equitable urban forest. The coalition is committed to increasing Cleveland’s tree canopy from 19% to 30% by 2040 due to the public health, safety, economic and environmental benefits trees provide.

Since 2016, we have planted 4,133 trees and 1,100 shrubs at our properties and in our communities, and have created 12 neighborhood parks. To make a positive impact on health equity in areas with low tree canopy, we hosted tree planting events in Akron and at Wade Park Elementary in Cleveland, planting 84 trees total in collaboration with members of our local communities, including elementary school students, church members, representatives from community development organizations, council persons and residents. In May, the Sustainability team held a plant sale to rehome approximately 180 indoor plants in the P Building, raising $1,000 to support tree planting efforts on main campus.

Cuyahoga Tree Symposium

Photo of a tree.

The Sustainability team collaborated with many local organizations passionate about tree canopy— including the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Tree Coalition, and more—to organize a day-long Cuyahoga Tree Symposium. Sessions covered legacy tree studies, community health benefits of trees, assessments of current planting programs and a roundtable on increasing the number of trees in underserved neighborhoods. Due to the success of the event, the organizing team plans to hold a second symposium in 2023.

Tree Campus Healthcare Recognition

Caregivers planting trees.

Tree Campus Healthcare is an Arbor Day Foundation program that recognizes health institutions across the United States for improving community wellness through tree plantings and maintenance, education programs and community engagement. Cleveland Clinic worked with the Arbor Day Foundation to create the program, which encourages collaboration between inpatient healthcare facilities and local community forestry programs to support and expand forests, especially in urban areas. In 2022, our main campus earned the Tree Campus Healthcare recognition for the fourth straight year, and Akron General Hospital earned recognition for a second consecutive year.

Climate and Health Collaborations

Climate and Health Collaborations

Climate change is a complex, global issue that requires collective action to drive change. We engage with community groups, industry organizations and government entities to:

  • Raise awareness about the health impacts of climate change, expand clinical education on climate and health, and promote collaboration on climate and health initiatives.
  • Support behavioral, process and system-level changes to promote resilience, and share and model best practices.

In 2022, we focused on raising awareness of the impacts climate change has on health, strengthening our commitment to reducing our emissions and sharing best practices with industry peers to help them measure and manage their carbon footprints.


Ohio Hospital Association

The Ohio Hospital Association has an Environmental Advisory Council, and Jon Utech, Senior Director of Sustainability Strategy for Cleveland Clinic was elected.

The Ohio Hospital Association has an Environmental Advisory Council, and Jon Utech, Senior Director of Sustainability Strategy for Cleveland Clinic, was elected in the fall of 2022 to chair this state-wide committee. This group is helping all Ohio Hospitals to lower their carbon footprints and enhance healthcare in Ohio.


Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge

On February 28th, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially launched the Better Climate Challenge. This national public-private partnership calls on organizations across the U.S. economy to set bold, ambitious, portfolio-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets and to share their innovative solutions. As a partner in the challenge, Cleveland Clinic has committed to reducing its enterprise-wide scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2030 without the use of offsets.

As part of the launch, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm; U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia L. Fudge; and former White House National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy; hosted a roundtable with Better Climate Challenge partners to highlight their commitment to curbing emissions and sharing best practices. Cleveland Clinic highlighted the interconnectedness of human and environmental health during this roundtable and underscored the importance of addressing air pollution and climate change due to the risks they pose to public health. Cleveland Clinic was one of three organizations selected to promote the challenge to the nation.

DOE’s Better Climate Challenge builds on its Better Buildings Challenge, which engaged partners in improving the energy efficiency of its facilities. Cleveland Clinic also participated in this challenge and was the third healthcare system to achieve its goal of reducing its energy use per square foot by more than 20% from 2010-2019.

National Academy of Medicine Climate Collaborative

In January, Cleveland Clinic joined this collaborative to strengthen the healthcare sector’s commitment to climate action and decarbonization. Cleveland Clinic’s Senior Director of Sustainability Strategy serves on the Policy, Goals and Metrics Committee, and designed and implemented a carbon footprint clinic to help organizations measure and decrease their carbon emissions in 2022.

Healthcare Climate Council

Cleveland Clinic is a member of Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Council, a group of leading U.S.-based health systems committed to climate mitigation, resilience and leadership to promote resilient, healthy communities. The Council includes 21 leading health systems representing hospitals and health centers in 42 states. Members share best practices with each other and the broader healthcare industry, and use their collective influence to advocate for initiatives that decarbonize healthcare.

Lancet Countdown U.S. Policy Brief Working Group

In 2022, Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine participated as members of the Lancet Countdown U.S. Policy Brief Working Group for a third consecutive year. This group develops an annual brief in partnership with the American Public Health Association on the leading threats that climate change poses for health in the United States, as well as policy recommendations to protect public health. The brief serves as a companion to the Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, an annual report created through an international research collaboration to provide evidence and guidance to governments on addressing the health impacts of climate change.

Regulated Air Emissions

Regulated Air Emissions

Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, facilities that generate air pollutants above a designated threshold must obtain a Title V air permit and comply with emissions limits and reporting requirements. Cleveland Clinic main campus meets the Title V emissions criteria and reports regulated emissions annually. Per the Title V requirements, we do not report normalized emissions. Due to a reporting issue that we identified, we have updated calendar year 2021 in addition to adding calendar year 2022 data for this report.

EPA Air Title V Emissions for Cleveland Clinic's main campus

Air Pollutant 2019 Emissions
Total (Tons)
2020 Emissions
Total (Tons)
2021 Emissions
Total (Tons)
2022 Emissions
Total (Tons)
Nitrogen Oxides 20.13 19.72 21.77 26.22
Sulfur Dioxides .31 .25 .25 .27
Organic Compounds 4.81 4.63 4.81 5.21 
Particulate Matter (PM)-10 .84 .81 .84 .91
Volatile Organic Compounds 2.5 2.37 2.49 2.74
Carbon Monoxide 36.73 35.39 36.77 39.81
Total of Chargeable Pollutants 26.08 25.43 27.68 32.61