Blue Shield of California has achieved carbon neutrality, a key environmental sustainability milestone that’s resulting in offsetting carbon emissions that equate to taking 6,300 cars off the road each year.
Environmental sustainability is part of the nonprofit health plan’s broader efforts to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities throughout California. As a result of its efforts, the Oakland, CA-based health plan has received the Carbon Neutral® company certification from Natural Capital Partners, experts on carbon neutrality and climate finance.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seven million people worldwide die prematurely every year from air pollution, which has wide ranging impacts on human health. A growing body of research also suggests that air pollution impacts the brain (CARB, 2018). As one of the largest health plans in California, Blue Shield is committed to taking preventative measures to curb these impacts.
“We know that environment and health outcomes are linked, and California is among the most polluted states in the country with low-income neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by unhealthy air quality,” said Kimberley Goode, senior vice president of External Affairs, Blue Shield of California. “As a mission-driven nonprofit health plan, we want all of our communities to have good health and great quality of life – for this generation and the next.”
The Carbon Neutral certification recognizes Blue Shield’s environmental sustainability efforts, which since 2015 have included:
- Reducing annual paper use by over 134 million pages – an effort for which Blue Shield received the 2020 Business Intelligence Sustainability Award
- Installing on-site solar systems at the health plan’s offices in Lodi and El Dorado Hills
- Installing electric vehicle charging stations at the health plan’s office in Redding
- Relocating its headquarters to a LEED Gold certified building with electric vehicle chargers and bike parking in downtown Oakland
- Supporting emission reduction projects to offset unavoidable emissions and improve the environment, as well as purchasing renewable energy certificates to cover electricity use. This includes support for Arcata’s Community Forest for community and youth recreation in this Northern California city, and truck stop electrification across the country to help long-haul truckers charge their phones without idling their engines.
“We applaud Blue Shield of California’s commitment to climate action while addressing the health and wellness of Californians and beyond,” said Saskia Feast, vice president at Natural Capital Partners. “Climate change is both a global and local challenge. By going beyond emissions reductions in its operations, the company is taking immediate action to drive the low carbon transformation of our economy.”
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