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Sustainable Operations, UPMC Environmental Initiatives

The UPMC Center for Sustainability is our new hub for environmental initiatives across operations, services, and communities.  

Our areas of focus include:

 Download an overview (PDF) of the top initiatives

Thumbnail for The UPMC Center for Sustainability (PDF)

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UPMC intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 across the system. Our goal is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. UPMC’s emissions include those occurring through of vehicle fleet, the electricity we produce on site, and the gases we release.

Fleet Management

UPMC is close to completing the conversion of all employee shuttle buses to compressed national gas (CNG), an important milestone.

  • Today, 58 of the 60 employee transport buses UPMC operated within the city of Pittsburgh are fueled by CNG.
  • Since the fleet launched in 2012, more than 1 million gallons of diesel fuel have been spared, preventing the release of almost 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • UPMC operates 13 clean diesel trucks that transport materials between facilities and warehouses.

Geo-Thermal Power Generation

  • Our commitment to using geo-thermal power when possible is reflected in the installation of a geo-thermal power generator in UPMC Northwest.

Limiting gases released through the OR

  • Three UPMC hospitals have nearly replaced the use of desflurane, a gas used for anesthesia.
  • UPMC is creating a plan to eliminate desflurane use across the system.

Alternative Transportation

  • UPMC has installed 64 level II charge stations for electric vehicles at facilities throughout Allegheny County.
  • More than 30 of our Pennsylvania hospitals are within one block of public transit. And UPMC makes space for transit stops on all hospital campuses whenever possible.
  • Twenty-nine hospitals in western Pennsylvania and New York have publicly accessible bike racks.
  • Four hospitals in Allegheny County are close to app-controlled bike rental stations.

Air Quality

  • All UPMC campuses and facilities, owned and leased, are smoke-free, and smoking of any tobacco, narcotic, and e-cigarettes is prohibited.
  • The clean diesel trucks that transport materials between facilities and warehouses are prohibited from idling while serving UPMC locations.

Reducing Emissions from the Power We Use

  • UPMC is committed to reducing energy consumption across the system.
  • We work to reduce energy consumption by cycling off high-energy locations like operating rooms when not in use.
  • We are continually moving to using the most efficient equipment and fixtures.

Improving Energy Efficiency of Our Buildings

We continually upgrade our buildings to improve energy efficiency and better serve our people and our communities.

LEED Certification

Among important energy efficiency initiatives, UPMC is working toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for select buildings. The US Green Building Council’s LEED certification is recognized around the world as a symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. LEED buildings save money, improve efficiency, lower carbon emissions and create healthier places for people.

  • The newly opened UPMC Mercy Pavilion in Pittsburgh is on track for LEED Silver designation.
  • UPMC has 8 LEED-certified properties of more than 2,000,000 total sq. ft.
  • UPMC has 13 LEED-certified leased property projects totaling 869,000 total sq. ft.

Energy Efficient Facility Design and Operation

  • A UPMC demonstration project contributed to a revised city of Pittsburgh ordinance for energy efficient parking garage lighting.
  • Collaborating with municipal and utility partners, UPMC is installing an energy microgrid in Uptown Pittsburgh. The project is designed to benefit all property owners in the improvement district.
  • In addition, UPMC IT infrastructure is environmentally and energy efficient. Service-side technology enables patients and visitors to conserve resources through opting for e-billing, e-documentation, e-sign-ons, and having their information managed through advanced electronic health records; all significantly contributing to reduce the paper and printing demand.
  • Remote access to medical experts and portable monitoring technology reduces the need for patients, caregivers and visitors to travel, reducing their impact on regional transportation emissions.
  • UPMC Children’s Hospital implemented window tint that decreased energy usage. This solution was an alternative to blinds that blocked the view of natural elements outside.

Storm Water Management, Green Spaces, and Trees

  • UPMC hospitals across the system offer healing gardens and planted landscapes for patients and visitors to explore.
  • Green spaces in urban areas are designed to mitigate urban heat cap. Tree canopies and improved landscapes decrease heat exposure.
  • More than 20 UPMC hospitals have storm water management programs.
  • Four UPMC hospitals have Pennsylvania Horticulture Community Greening recognition.
  • UPMC Magee-Womens’ campus in Pittsburgh has two beehives on its campus (away from public access).
  • Through the Stryker program, UPMC has donated 1,194 trees to the national forest foundation.
  • UPMC Children’s Hospital has been named a 2022 Tree Campus® Healthcare Institution from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to planting, nurturing, and celebrating trees.

Purchasing with Goal of Sustainability

Supply Chain Management at UPMC has facilitated sustainability programs for the last three decades.

  • UPMC streamlines purchasing processes systemwide.
  • UPMC evaluates construction materials and all products using sustainability metrics.
  • UPMC uses purchasing groups to rapidly change policies as needed system-wide.
  • Entry level supply chain specialists are taught to recognize ways to help reduce waste from their earliest days on the job.

Food Sustainability Initiatives

  • UPMC has multiple recycling and reuse initiatives.
  • We continue to reduce use of foam service products and instead make reusable beverage cups available.
  • We donate unused food to local organizations for their distributions. For example, several UPMC hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania send food to 412 Food Rescue, Good Food Program.
  • We purchase rGBH-free milk, local produced eggs, vegetables, and locally produced eggs, vegetables, and fruits whenever possible. (As regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, rGBH-free means that the cows were not treated with growth hormone for increasing milk production.)
  • We offer access to regional farms through farmer’s markets at select locations.
  • We grow vegetables and herbs on several campuses and distribute them in healthy eating classes.
  • We offer healthy eating options in vending machines.
  • We support local health departments’ healthy lifestyle initiatives.
  • We reduced the availability of red meat and replaced it with plant-based options at several locations

More Donations, Diversions from Landfills

  • All UPMC hospitals and some medical offices in Pennsylvania send surplus medical supplies to Global Links, Brothers Brother Foundation, and the UPMC Horizon Medical Equipment Recycling Program.

Expanding Our Resiliency and Preparing For Climate Changes

With climate change influencing weather patterns, UPMC is working to improving our health care system’s resiliency.

  • UPMC prepares for community challenges and expands bed capacity during times of high need.

Contact Us

Learn more about UPMC’s sustainability initiatives. Contact the UPMC Center for Sustainability by email.