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Climate Crisis

This guide provides information, resources, and data on the climate crisis

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the balance between the environment, equity, and the economy

The most often quoted definition comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used. In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.

Sustainability Resources

Sustainable Living

Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce the use of Earth's natural resources by an individual or society. Its practitioners often attempt to reduce their ecological footprint (including their carbon footprint) by altering their home designs and methods of transportation, energy consumption and diet. ts proponents aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, naturally balanced, and respectful of humanity's symbiotic relationship with the Earth's natural ecology. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living closely follows the overall principles of sustainable development.

Sustainable living is fundamentally the application of sustainability to lifestyle choices and decisions. One conception of sustainable living expresses what it means in triple-bottom-line terms as meeting present ecological, societal, and economical needs without compromising these factors for future generations.

By 2050, the world’s population may reach a whopping 10 billion and with more people comes more demand for – food, fashion, travel, housing and related aspirations. An increasing number of people are unable to meet basic needs while two to three billion new urban consumers and youth will receive the majority of their information from social media. In a world stretched thin for resources and under the threat of global biodiversity loss and climate change, our lifestyles decisions are putting the planet at risk. We need targeted action.

Sustainability Initiatives

Green NYC

In April 2019, New York City passed a bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The bill's goal was to minimize the climate pollution stemming from the hub that is New York City. The bill will restrict energy use in larger buildings, by imposing greenhouse gas caps on buildings that are over 25,000 square feet. A similar emission cap had existed already for buildings of 50,000 square feet or more.

Sustainability at MSK

Healthcare facilities are the center of service delivery, treating patients, protecting health, and saving lives. At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), we also understand the importance of limiting our carbon emissions; energy and water use; hazardous, regulated, and solid waste generation; and supply chain impacts to establish a healthy environment and create the conditions for healthy people and communities. Dedicated sustainability efforts are embedded throughout MSK.

Our commitments and investments work to advance our vision for sustainable healthcare to lead and innovate sustainable practices with an environmental, a social, and an economic benefit for our patients, staff, and community in support of MSK’s mission to pursue excellence in the care and cure for cancer.

We have been recognized for our industry leadership, innovations, and commitments to implement sustainable best practices in healthcare throughout MSK. We have earned more than 60 environmental excellence and sustainability-related awards over the past decade, including the latest receipt of the 2023 Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth. This award identifies us as one of the country’s top 25 hospitals in terms of sustainability practices. We have also achieved the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for eight individual MSK locations.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED is a green building certification program used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods, which aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

By 2015, there were over 80,000 LEED-certified buildings and over 100,000 LEED-accredited professionals. Most LEED-certified buildings are located in major U.S. metropolises. Some U.S. federal agencies, state and local governments require or reward LEED certification. This can include tax credits, zoning allowances, reduced fees, and expedited permitting. Studies have found that for-rent LEED office spaces generally have higher rents and occupancy rates and lower capitalization rates.