Minimizing Our Impact

UnitedHealth Group is committed to transparently minimizing our company’s environmental impact by reducing our carbon footprint, ensuring efficient use of water and energy, developing and implementing comprehensive recycling and waste management programs, and engaging our employees and partners in thoughtful, goal-based environmental stewardship.

See our environmental impact statement for more information.

2x

In 2020, UnitedHealth Group more than doubled our purchase of unbundled renewable energy credits

Reducing carbon emissions has been a long-standing priority for our company. Our global energy conservation program is a fundamental part of our carbon emissions reduction strategy, focusing on the integration of core sustainability principles in the management of our global real estate portfolio. 

Our 2020 reported annual carbon emissions data is the most comprehensive to date and includes integrated global real estate operations in the United States, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Asia-Pacific region.

  • 8k fluorescent lamps upgraded to LED at the Optum headquarters
  • 427k kWh reduction in annual electricity use due to Optum lamp upgrades
  • 2.7M square feet of LEED certified facilities across UnitedHealth Group’s portfolio

To implement low cost/no cost energy conservation projects and to identify capital investment opportunities, our facilities management team works in partnership with the Environmental Management Team. For instance – at the Optum Headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota – our upgrade of fluorescent lamps to LED has helped to reduce our overall electricity usage. 

Additionally, we strive to apply high-performance design and construction best practices across our real estate portfolio. 

We identify water efficiency opportunities through construction standards that routinely incorporate water efficient fixtures and fittings for planned projects. In response to COVID-19 and with a special focus on employee health and well-being, we deployed touchless fixtures and upgraded restrooms across the U.S. 

  • 80%+ of our managed U.S. sites meet LEED criteria, achieving our water efficiency goal
  • 4k touchless fixtures installed at sites across the U.S.
  • 155 sites received restroom upgrades

Diverting waste from landfills and minimizing waste generated in our operations help reduce our impact on the environment. In 2020, we completed our Twin Cities Waste Pilot Program that implemented back of house composting and more sustainable USDA Certified Biobased and Green Seal Certified brown paper towels at our Eden Prairie and Minnetonka, Minnesota, sites. 

Across six sites in California we also implemented front of house composting, which included adding compost bins to employee breakrooms and cafés. These best practices will be deployed to our Eden Prairie and Minnetonka sites. 

Bevi flavored-water dispensers were installed across U.S. locations as part of Stride – our internal employee well-being program – which reduced the use of single-use beverage containers. 

4.7M

estimated single-use bottles saved since 2019 by installing water dispensers

We are managing and reducing paper-based waste generated from our business operations through Shred All, our confidential paper recycling program, as well as investments in digital capabilities that help us reduce paper use in our business operations. 

We’ve implemented a multiyear project to reduce the quantity of printers at administrative office locations. In 2020, we also deployed new employee productivity tools to help enable more efficient and digitally focused solutions. 

Our members can opt in to receive digital communications for informational letters, explanation of benefits and health statements. Beyond reducing paper-based communications, those who opt in receive communications more quickly and via their preferred method. 

  • 4.9k tons of paper destroyed and recycled in the U.S. in 2020
  • 83k trees saved in 2020