UPMC Health Plan supports the Mt. Washington CDC's efforts to revitalize the neighborhoods, green spaces and trails of Mt. Washington. Through the CDC's relationship with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, a group of adults pursuing sustainable landscaping and gardening careers were trained in specialized techniques while improving and beautifying the trails of Emerald View Park.

UPMC Helping People Live Healthier Lives Through its Sustainability Initiatives

by Mark Soroka


April 14, 2022

As one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers, UPMC has been at the forefront of numerous medical innovations. Among its many milestones, UPMC pioneered the polio vaccine, performed the first liver transplant and ushered in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

It’s not surprising that UPMC is also setting the standard for sustainability in healthcare.

For example, UPMC was the first regional healthcare organization to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a healthcare energy-efficiency program and the first in the nation to insert a clean construction requirement into its construction RFP contracts.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, UPMC Health Plan has been a prominent, leading voice in environmental and sustainability initiatives for decades,” said John Lovelace, President, Government Programs at UPMC Health Plan. “We strongly share environmental and climate change concerns with our broader community and stakeholders. Furthermore, we engage in a variety of substantive and meaningful activities to minimize our emissions, carbon footprint and environmental impact, and to safeguard the health, safety and wellness of our many stakeholders.”

One of UPMC’s top priorities is addressing sustainability-related improvements at its facilities. To that end, many of UPMC’s facilities have undergone multi-year renovations that contribute to energy and carbon emissions reductions related to lighting, electricity and water flow efficiency. At UPMC Health Plan’s headquarters in the U.S. Steel Building, six of the floors it occupies have Gold USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications, while seven other floors have Silver certifications. What’s more, over 60 percent of UPMC’s total leased office space has achieved LEED certifications.

In addition, UPMC operates 61 CNG (compressed natural gas) employee shuttles that cover routes in Allegheny County and uses 13 clean diesel trucks that transport materials between its facilities and warehouse; provides assistance to employees for the use of public transportation to UPMC’s offices and facilities; and maintains onsite culinary gardens, healing gardens and sensory gardens at many of its facilities.

UPMC also participates in various activities to better understand and address wide-ranging issues that impact underserved communities.

“Studies have shown that the more vulnerable social and economic groups may be more adversely impacted by climate change and weather events,” said Lovelace. “That could affect overall morbidity and mortality trends. To address those challenges, our community health and outreach teams engage in proactive community outreach geared to help our at-risk and more vulnerable community members.”

UPMC Health Plan has always prided itself on being a good community neighbor. Over the past decade, UPMC has invested in and supported organizations that are dedicated to climate change, sustainability and the environment. UPMC has also provided sponsorships to sustainability-related causes such as regional and county parks, nature reserves and environmental foundations, groups and events. In addition, UPMC participates in Sustainable Pittsburgh’s CEOs for Sustainability and the Sustainable Business Compact.

For all these efforts, UPMC has earned distinction by the Green Building Alliance and has been awarded a “Sustainable Restaurant Certification” from Sustainable Pittsburgh.

“UPMC is proud to be a steward of our environment,” said Lovelace. “We look forward to engaging in even more sustainability initiatives for years to come.”