The Joint Commission announced that four hospitals within Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most integrated health network, are first in the nation to achieve The Joint Commission’s Sustainable Healthcare Certification (SHC).

The hospitals have met the organization’s standards and elements of performance to establish structure, rigor, and accountability to meet healthcare’s growing sustainability efforts.

The four Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals include:

  • Hackensack Meridian University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey
  • Hackensack Meridian Bayshore Medical Center, Holmdel, New Jersey
  • Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, New Jersey
  • Hackensack Meridian Ocean University Medical Center, Brick, New Jersey

The Joint Commission’s SHC provides a framework to help healthcare organizations begin, continue, or expand their decarbonization efforts. To achieve SHC, all four hospitals set priorities and governance for sustainability initiatives, including creating baselines to measure three sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and developing an action plan to reduce them. The four hospitals also underwent a virtual certification review to assess their compliance with the SHC program’s requirements.

Since the healthcare industry accounts for nearly 9% of the nation’s carbon emissions, commitment to keeping people healthy includes recognizing and reducing healthcare’s outsized share of carbon emissions, according to the Joint Commission.

“We are incredibly proud to be the first hospital network in the nation to receive The Joint Commission’s Sustainable Healthcare Certification,” said Robert C Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This prestigious recognition is a testament to our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, we recognize the importance of operating in a responsible and sustainable manner. This certification demonstrates our leadership in this critical area and our dedication to protecting the health of our patients, communities, and planet for generations to come.”

As a network, Hackensack Meridian Health has established itself as a national leader in sustainability. Recent achievements include:

  • Begun implementation of 30 MW on-site solar and battery storage
  • Invested more than $116 million in energy-efficient infrastructure upgrades
  • Achieved PEER Gold certification for Hackensack University Medical Center’s Central Utility Plant, a recognition of excellence in efficiency and resiliency
  • 100% of electronics purchased in 2022 were EPEAT certified
  • Saved $1.71 million by reprocessing medical devices and 40,000 pounds diverted from the landfill
  • 99% of furnishings purchased were free of harmful chemicals
  • 96.7% of cleaning products were third-party eco-logo certified (green)

Additionally, as one of the original signatories to the White House and US Department of Health and Human Services Climate Pledge, Hackensack Meridian Health and The Joint Commission have each pledged to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2050.

Hackensack Meridian Health has also been active in its healthcare equity initiatives. Four of its hospitals were among the first in the nation to achieve The Joint Commission’s Healthcare Equity Certification in late 2023.

“The link between equity and environmental sustainability in healthcare is undeniable. Not everyone is equally at risk from the effects of climate change. The individuals least able to compensate for the effects are those already burdened with adverse social determinants of health,” says Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission enterprise. “Achieving The Joint Commission’s Healthcare Equity Certification and Sustainable Healthcare Certification demonstrate Hackensack Meridian Health’s leadership role and commitment toward responsible and ethical practices.”