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Can Sustainable Hospitals Help Bend the Health Care Cost Curve?


As policymakers seek to rein in the nation’s escalating health care costs, one area deserving attention is the health system’s costly environmental footprint. This study examines data from selected hospitals that have implemented programs to reduce energy use and waste and achieve operating room supply efficiencies. After standardizing metrics across the hospitals studied and generalizing results to hospitals nationwide, the analysis finds that savings achievable through these interventions could exceed $5.4 billion over five years and $15 billion over 10 years. Given the return on investment, the authors recommend that all hospitals adopt such programs and, in cases where capital investments could be financially burdensome, that public funds be used to provide loans or grants, particularly to safety-net hospitals.

Publication Details

Publication Date: November 2, 2012
Citation: S. Kaplan, B. Sadler, K. Little, C. Franz et al., Can Sustainable Hospitals Help Bend the Health Care Cost Curve?, The Commonwealth Fund, November 2012.


Research Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health
Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
Principle, Informing Ecological Design, LLC
Senior Economist, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
Professor and Chief of Service, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System