UC San Diego Health, named Top 25 in Environmental Excellence in the U.S., is committed to being fossil-free by 2045 and is focused on building community health and resilience through advancing sustainability. 

In 2022, the organization was recognized by the Health Care Climate Council for leading the way in climate-smart health care through mitigation, resilience and leadership. A new outpatient pavilion, currently under construction, will reduce carbon intensity by over 90% and is designed to achieve a LEED Silver sustainability rating.

Read More about Sustainability at UC San Diego Health

The organization developed a multiyear plan for energy-saving measures and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by migrating all 60 operating rooms from nitrous oxide central supply. This success follows elimination of desflurane, an anesthetic gas that is 2500 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

These efforts contribute to the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, signed in 2022, to reduce GHGs by 50% by 2030 and create an equity-centered climate resilience plan to protect people, assets and services.  

UC San Diego Health continued to decrease its total waste, surpassing the 2025 goal. By purchasing 99% EPEAT-certified electronics and imaging equipment, the organization received an EPEAT Purchaser Award. The organization increased the number of telehealth visits from fiscal year 2019–2020 by over 300%, reducing GHG emissions associated with patient travel. Electric vehicle charging is available in all public parking garages including 100 Level 2 chargers and 10 Direct Current fast chargers.

The inaugural medical director of sustainability, one of only 17 in the country, was named in 2022, a public facing sustainability website was launched and additional staff joined both the sustainability and energy teams. Staff and providers continue to engage through the Green Certifications Program for medical clinics, units, and offices and grass-roots initiatives. 


Doctors and nurses in scrubs and face masks converse.

Modeling Sustainable Health Care at UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health is the only health care organization in the region with a program solely focused on sustainability. The organization is setting the bar when it comes to sustainable health care and was one of 50 health care institutions from over 15 countries to be named a 2022 Climate Champion.

Medical staff in a hallway at UCSD Health

Hospitals Are Carbon Bombs. Some Are Trying To Change

UC San Diego Health successfully changed the nitrous oxide anesthesia delivery systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that can linger in the atmosphere for 114 years. Over the past two years, the organization reduced nitrous oxide waste by 68%, saving 1,400 metric tons of CO2e, equivalent to taking over 300 gas-powered cars off the road for one year.


Assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables

of food and beverage purchases met sustainability criteria ($1.0M)


of food and beverage purchases were plant-based ($1.4M)

UC San Diego Health Food and Nutrition is committed to offering more plant-based entree and salad options on patient menus and in cafes, promoting SOUL food (food that is sustainable, organic, unprocessed and local). While the amount of meat purchased increased, the number of ounces of meat per meal decreased and the purchase of plant-based protein and dairy substitutes increased by 64%. As patient meals and retail services began to normalize following the pandemic, the organization increased its purchases and sales overall. 


A stacked bar graph depicts waste generated over time. In fiscal year 2023, UC San Diego Health generated 15.59 pounds per person per day of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), 4.12 pounds per person per day of Recycling, 0.12 pounds per person per day of Compost, 2.07 pounds per person per day of Regulated Medical Waste.

Fiscal Year

*Per capita figures are calculated using Adjusted Patient Day (APD)

**Data provided if not counted in other waste streams

UC San Diego Health continued to decrease its total waste per adjusted patient day (APD) to 22 pounds, nearing the 2030 goal of 20 pounds per APD. Overall recycling numbers declined while solid waste, regulated medical waste and pharmaceutical waste increased alongside a 4% increase in patient days. Composting increased by 123% as a new vendor was brought on board. Hazardous waste decreased by over 35%.


UC San Diego Health was the proud recipient of many Practice Greenhealth awards in 2023, including the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award.

A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.

Combined Data

Progress on the following policy areas for this Health System is reported by the campus location: