Earth Day 2023 at Michigan Medicine: ‘Invest in Our Planet’

April 21, 2023  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership, ,

Approximately a 3-minute read

Key takeaways: 

  • Saturday is Earth Day, and Michigan Medicine is proud of its achievements in environmental stewardship, with aspirations to do more to improve planetary health and save lives
  • Michigan Medicine is celebrating Earth Week across the organization by sharing news, stories, initiatives and more to reduce its impact on the planet.
  • In addition to the Medical School’s participation in the Freezer Days competition, Michigan Medicine will tell stories related to the Green Anesthesia Initiative, medical plastics recycling and more, in addition to its progress at the Kahn Pavilion to achieve LEED Platinum-level certification.

Saturday is the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day, which honors the achievements of the environmental movement and raises awareness of the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations.

The 2023 theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” an ongoing call for actions which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to sustain our environment. At Michigan Medicine, there is a history of investment in environmental stewardship, with aspirations to do more to improve planetary health and save lives.

Michigan Medicine is committed to proactive measures to reduce its impact on the carbon footprint while staying true to its tripartite mission of providing excellent patient care, education and research. While recognized as an excellent environmental leader for many years by Practice Greenhealth, there is a renewed commitment at Michigan Medicine to tackle climate change, which is recognized as a public health crisis.

Michigan Medicine aims for continuous improvement in advancing environmental stewardship

In the U.S,, the health care industry is reported to contribute 8.5% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonization of the health care sector is an aspirational and important goal for Michigan Medicine, along with other industry participants across the nation and on a global scale. 

Given this importance, Michigan Medicine will feature many initiatives and provide important facts throughout the next week and beyond to raise awareness, demonstrate environmental stewardship efforts and accelerate progress to reduce its impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.

“As a major provider and employer, we have a great responsibility, a call to action to lead and reduce our organizational impact on global warming and climate change,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief environmental, social and governance officer at Michigan Medicine. “I am proud of the many initiatives we have invested in over the years, new ideas that are underway and those about to take off, to the benefit of our Earth community. Our opportunity to make a difference in planetary health is clear and teamwork across all areas will be important to the progress we can make by working together for the benefit of future generations.”

Earth Day into Earth Week at Michigan Medicine

Consistent with our learning mission, new educational awareness efforts will kick off across Michigan Medicine to build off Earth Day and Earth Week. Please anticipate fun facts, helpful tools and actionable items which will be shared through different media channels including digital signage and social media outlets.

For instance, early next week, Headlines will share updates to the Green Anesthesia Initiative (GAIA), which launched in spring 2022. The aim is substituting environmentally harmful sedation agents with safe alternatives, leading to a reduction of anesthetic gas emissions by 80% over a three-year period.

There is good news in medical plastics recycling, as well. A pilot program will soon be rolled out broadly to reduce and reuse single-use medical plastic wastes across operating and procedure room locations. Details on this important carbon reduction initiative will be published in a Headlines story on Friday, April 28. The new program is an example of the importance of collaboration with other industries, which includes the DuPont Company for this initiative.

“The commitment of our environmental work at Michigan Medicine cannot be overstated,” said Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of Michigan Medicine. “It is our responsibility to enact positive measures to reduce the adverse impacts on our planet. I am highly encouraged by what our teams are doing to advance us in this endeavor.”

Other important efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint are underway already or under review. Earlier this month, Headlines shared a story about the 2023 Freezer Challenge led by the U-M Office of Campus Sustainability. Labs from across campus, including the U-M Medical School, are participating in this special event through July 1.

Stay tuned for additional stories about U-M Health’s collaborative efforts to reduce and remove styrofoam and other single-use plastics from the environment, plans for LED light conversions, as well as the environmental benefits of virtual patient care.

What the future holds

In March, it was announced that Michigan Medicine would be partnering with Zipline to offer drone delivery services for prescription drugs starting in 2024. This autonomous delivery service uses environmentally efficient drones that produce a fraction of CO2 emissions per mile than the average electric vehicle, and up to 98% less CO2 emissions than a gas-fueled vehicle.

With a keen eye on building investments with the environment in mind, Michigan Medicine’s D. Dan and Betty Kahn Heath Care Pavilion remains on track to be among the first of its kind in sustainability for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Platinum” status. This is being done through a multi-pronged and holistic approach to the site and efficient building design that minimizes energy and water use, while maximizing environmental benefits to patients and staff. The new hospital is slated to open in fall 2025.

To learn more about the universitywide efforts on environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality, visit U-M President Santa J. Ono’s home page on the subject or the Planet Blue page.

Watch for future Headlines articles and other communications about the Environmental Sustainability & Carbon Neutrality program initiatives and progress. In the meantime, visit the Environmental Stewardship website. If you have suggestions or ideas on how climate change can be addressed more effectively at Michigan Medicine, please email