Emissions Cut The Right Medicine For Kaiser

When Kaiser Permanente talks about improving the health of its communities, it’s not just talking about doctor visits. The health plan provider has rolled out a lofty plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from its 2008 levels within the next eight years. It plans to meet those goals by making use of renewable energy sources and decreasing energy consumption through conservation.

Greenhouse gas emissions are not only linked to climate change, but can also contribute to a rise in pollution and diseases. For instance, ground-level ozone, created by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight, can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

image via Recurrent Energy

Kaiser’s 2008 greenhouse gas emissions were an estimated 819,000 metric tons. That amount jumped to 837,000 by 2010. Under its new plan, Kaiser wants to reduce its emissions by 264,000 metric tons by 2020.

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to creating healthy communities, and it’s critical we work to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment,” Bernard Tyson, president and chief operating officer of Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement. “We all take pride in our focus on prevention at Kaiser Permanente, and that includes taking a stand to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

To meet those goals, the company plans to focus on green building techniques to help conserve as much energy as possible. It will also look to renewable energy sources like solar and fuel cell energy to provide cleaner energy for its operations.

Already, Kaiser is working on initiatives in California with Recurrent Energy. Through that partnership Kaiser has installed 11 megawatts (MW) of solar power generation at 11 of its facilities. In terms of fuel cells, the company has agreed to implement 4 MW of fuel-cell generation at seven of its facilities in California by the end of 2012.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.