The Imperative for Healthcare to Combat our Climate Crisis
Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, FASHE
Principal, Chief Executive Officer
Healthcare leaders are increasingly recognizing the responsibility of the industry to respond to this crisis.
In 2020, the World Health Organization issued a Manifesto for a healthy recovery from Covid-19, calling on the healthcare sector to “combat climate change and environmental destruction with the same seriousness with which they are now fighting COVID-19.” Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Any efforts to make our world safer are doomed to fail unless they address the . . . existential threat of climate change.”
In 2020, the United States National Academy of Medicine launched an Action Collaborative, aiming to decarbonize the Healthcare Sector, and to help the US Healthcare leaders to serve the health agenda by protecting the climate.
In late 2021, the top 200 most prestigious medical journals in the world jointly called on the world’s healthcare leaders to lead in holding the world accountable for protecting health by protecting the climate.
In late 2021, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, noting the nation’s commitment to dealing effectively with the Climate Crisis, launched the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, focused on protecting vulnerable communities who disproportionately bear the brunt of pollution and climate-driven disasters.
In 2021, the International Hospital Federation began calling on global healthcare leaders to lead the transformation to a Climate-Friendly future.
In the world of design, we say that “form follows function”. So, as designers of healthcare facilities, we take it as a moral imperative to help our clients design strategies and infrastructure that will simultaneously withstand the rapidly changing climate, and at the same time, bend the climate curve back towards health.