Solar panels at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in California. Photo: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente, the multi-state network of hospitals, doctors and health insurance, is buying significant amounts of renewable energy and building solar and wind farms in an effort to be carbon-neutral by 2020, CEO Bernard Tyson said in an interview.

The big picture: The health care industry will have to be part of climate change solutions, given that it accounts for about 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Reality check: While Kaiser is a large system with more than 75 million square feet of hospitals and other real estate, that's a relatively small footprint. The land area of the city of Oakland, where Kaiser is headquartered, is about 1.6 billion square feet by comparison.

  • However, shifting to renewable energy at hospitals would be particularly beneficial because they are intensive energy hogs.

Why now: "The massive fires that we're dealing with in California — I don't need to debate whether that's a climate issue," Tyson said, adding that climate change has direct and indirect effects on people's health.

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