Charging forward: How Providence is working to curb transportation emissions

August 31, 2023 Providence Environmental Stewardship


  • In this article:

  • Transportation accounts for a sizable part of carbon emissions. For Providence, many of those emissions are tied to caregivers driving to work, business travel, fleet vehicle activities and more.

  • Providence is committed to getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. And that means finding creative ways to cut back on our transportation emissions.

  • Read on to learn more about how Providence is supporting caregivers while curbing transportation emissions.  

The burning of gasoline and diesel, especially from cars, trucks and other vehicles, contributes significantly to climate change and air pollution — which ultimately impact the health of our communities.

Providence is committed to cutting down these emissions as part of our broader environmental stewardship efforts. That work includes combatting climate change through our WE ACT framework, which addresses topics like energy efficiency, renewable energy, reduced anesthetic use and sustainable supply chains throughout Providence ministries in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The “T” in this framework stands for transportation.

“In the United States, the transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases each year, having surpassed emissions from buildings in 2018,” says Cassie Tinari, executive director, social responsibility for Providence. “As caregivers across seven states, we have a responsibility to reduce our business travel and find more efficient methods of commuting. Now that remote work is common practice, this has been easier; however, there is still more we can do to reduce our emissions in this space.”

A system-wide approach

Providence is taking steps across its ministries to decrease transportation emissions from business travel by 50% by 2030, including:

  • Curbing commuting emissions by 30%, including by reducing single-occupancy vehicle transit
  • Cutting down unnecessary business travel
  • Installing electric vehicle charging stations system-wide
  • Transitioning fleet vehicles to 50% hybrid or electric by 2026
  • Working with distributors to cut down how far supplies have to travel

Each of these activities is defined in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  • Business travel (Scope 3, Category 6)
  • Transition to EV fleet vehicles (Scope 1, Mobile Combustion)
  • Supporting alternative employee commuting (Scope 3, Category 7)

“There’s lots to come, including transitioning our fleet to electric or hybrid, setting caregiver travel targets and finalizing our electric vehicle standards, but we’re excited about what we’ve achieved,” says Tinari.

“Since COVID, we’ve reduced business travel emissions by 79% and reduced caregiver commuting emissions by 15% by implementing remote work for administrative staff.”

Alternative commuting at St. Peter’s Hospital

Heidi Ranger-Geh, employee transportation coordinator at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital, has been a bicycle commuter since she started at St. Peter’s 30 years ago.

“I just have a huge passion for cycling and bettering the world, and they kind of go together.,” says Ranger-Geh. “We’re trying to be consistent and persistent on getting folks to become aware of nonpolluting, active modes of transportation.”

St. Peter’s has seen a rise in biking to work, and Ranger-Geh has played a direct part in empowering caregivers to get started, hosting monthly bike rides to work in her department and even helping new hires find the best biking routes to work. She also speaks to new hires about alternative transportation, including bus services, walk-and-roll programs, vanpools, walking routes and more.

Caregivers at St. Peter’s also participated in a local commuting challenge that encouraged commuters to bike to work, with dozens of employees jumping on board.

“If you begin at the local level, your actions become more meaningful to people as they address issues of climate change, cleaner air and a healthier environment,” says Ranger-Geh. “When you start with a small community, it builds and builds until it becomes worldwide. Shifting the culture can start with one person and snowball.”

Encouraging carpooling at Swedish

With the goal of being carbon negative by 2030, Swedish is focusing all its transportation programs toward that goal, according to Camila Level, manager of parking and commuter services at Swedish. “We’ll always have people driving to hospitals, but we can reduce that through making rideshare and public transportation accessible to everyone,” says Level.

The team at Swedish is working to shift how caregivers commute to be more sustainable, including coordinating:

  • Bus passes
  • Carpool and vanpool matching
  • Ferry passes
  • Shuttle programs between campuses
  • Vanpool subsidies

The commuting resources provided at each site are, naturally, different. “Our work has to be tailored locally because every hospital, even if we’re close, has different needs,” says Level. “How we use our resources is never going to be the same. We all get ice cream, but it’s a different flavor.”

For example, the team has worked to make sure carpooling and vanpooling have significant benefits. Carpoolers don’t pay for parking, and Swedish pays for maintenance and all other charges associated to vanpools. Over the summer, Swedish also saw an uptick in caregivers walking or biking to work, which was supported by a new bike facility that houses e-bikes for commuters.

“We’re hoping people can earn a sense of pride when we show our carbon emissions lowering,” says Level. “We want people to take pride in seeing the results of the action they are taking and make them part of the celebration.”

Level and her team also participate, when possible, at new hire orientation, provide a commuter concierge program to tailor rides for incoming caregivers and engage with local organizations to advocate for commuters heading to Swedish sites.

“A lot of cooperation goes into understanding where the pain points are,” says Level. “If we don’t have partnerships with our communities, neighbors and governments, we can’t achieve anything.”


Contributing Caregivers

Cassie Tinari, executive director, social responsibility for Providence

Heidi Ranger-Geh, employee transportation coordinator at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital

Camila Level, manager of parking and commuter services at Swedish

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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