Environmental footprint of regular and intensive inpatient care in a large US hospital

Purnima Aishwarya Prasad, Dhruvi Joshi, Jennifer Lighter, Jenna Agins, Robin Allen, Michael Collins, Foohel Pena, Joan Velletri, Cassandra Thiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Environmental sustainability is a growing concern to healthcare providers, given the health impacts of climate change and air pollution, and the sizable footprint of healthcare delivery itself. Though many studies have focused on environmental footprints of operating rooms, few have quantified emissions from inpatient stays. This study quantifies solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) per bed-day in a regular inpatient (low intensity) and intensive care unit (high intensity). Methods: This study uses hybrid environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify average emissions associated with resource use in an acute inpatient unit with 49 beds and 14,427 hospitalization days and an intensive care unit (ICU) with 12 beds and 2536 hospitalization days. The units are located in a single tertiary, private hospital in Brooklyn, NY, USA. Results and discussion: An acute care unit generates 5.5 kg of solid waste and 45 kg CO2-e per hospitalization day. The ICU generates 7.1 kg of solid waste and 138 kg CO2-e per bed day. Most emissions originate from purchase of consumable goods, building energy consumption, purchase of capital equipment, food services, and staff travel. Conclusions: The ICU generates more solid waste and GHGs per bed day than the acute care unit. With resource use and emission data, sustainability strategies can be effectively targeted and tested. Medical device and supply manufacturers should also aim to minimize direct solid waste generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-49
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)
  • Healthcare
  • Inpatient
  • Internal medicine
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Sustainability
  • Waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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