Agrace Hospice and Supportive Care Going Carbon Neutral by 2025

Wisconsin-based Agrace Hospice and Supportive Care is implementing a plan to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The move will ultimately help to ensure sustainable services for patients in more ways than one, according to executives.

Among the hospice’s key objectives is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative involves new operational strategies, as well as improvements to their buildings across all locations — and investments in renewable energy sources.


The reasons for going carbon neutral are multifaceted, but the sustainability of patient care was a guiding principle, according to Agrace CEO Lynne Sexten.

“There are absolutely financial savings that we will begin to enjoy a decade from now, but that’s not high on our reasons for doing this,” Sexten told Hospice News. “Making sure our services are available to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay means we’re making sure we’re being a good corporate citizen, a good community partner, and helping to further cleaner air in our local communities.”

These projects have been three years in the making as Agrace weighed how they were going to achieve their goals, Sexten explained.


To get the ball rolling, Agrace began partnering with the energy consulting company Resource Innovations. This collaboration allowed the hospice to measure its current carbon footprint using data from utility bills, staff commuting mileage and reimbursement rates, fleet records, and other sources.

From this analysis, Agrace determined that its current carbon footprint is 4,730 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

The first stages of the carbon initiative will begin this year at Agrace’s Janesville location and continue next year at its Madison headquarters.

The strategy consists of six key components:

  • Retro commissioning, or identifying short payback and no-cost opportunities to reduce energy consumption across its locations
  • Replacing building components and equipment with energy efficient elements.
  • Partnering with locally-generated green power utility providers 
  • Adding solar roofing to its Janesville facility, followed by an evaluation to do the same in Madison
  • Offset carbon emissions that can’t be eliminated through funding projects in land and forest management, as well as methane capture.
  • Identify other opportunities for carbon reduction, such as more efficient staff scheduling and ways to reduce travel for clinical staff

The organization expects to improve energy efficiency by 5% to 15%, according to Mary Barros, vice president of support services at Agrace.

“We have already done a couple pieces, such as retrofitting lighting, and after this is installing the on-site solar at the end of this year,” Barros told Hospice News. “Operationally, we’re working on a handful of other items, looking at recycling for waste and landfills, and what we can do with food scraps – it’s everything across the board.”

Some of Agrace’s initial investments include spending roughly $50,000 in retro-commissioning and equipment replacement, while the installation of green power could cost roughly $10,000 to $30,000 annually for the first several years.

The organization is financing its solar investments through a philanthropic grant and anticipates pouring an additional $200,000. All told, the solar installation could represent a $750,000 to $1 million investment, though the hospice is still assessing the total cost, Sexten said.

“There will be cost-savings initially, but it will take many years to get there after all these investments we’re going to make,” Sexten said. “But the positivity that comes out of this is part of Agrace’s mission and is worth the investments.”

Additionally, Agrace is gradually replacing its current fleet with electric vehicles. This will support another of the program’s long-term goals — more efficient staff travel, Barros added. However, the speed of technology, availability and affordability of these vehicles also will have an influence on how this effort will take shape, she told Hospice News.

These carbon neutrality investments could be beneficial in terms of recruitment and retention as well. Agrace has already seen a rising interest in the initiative among current employees and prospective hires, according to Sexten.

“We’re finding that this is really important in recruiting and retaining employees. It seems to be something that goes in our ‘plus column’ when applicants understand that we are actually taking the environment really seriously,” Sexten said. “Striving to become carbon neutral within a very short time period seems to be an added bonus.”

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