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How Aledade Established A Multi-Million Dollar Climate Program

04 Oct 2023 | Sebastian Smith

7 MINUTES READ

How Aledade Established A Multi-Million Dollar Climate Program

Aledade works to create a health care system that’s good for patients, good for practices and good for society by helping primary care practices make the switch to value-based care: an approach to paying for health care that focuses on prevention, proactive care and better patient outcomes. Working on the front lines of health care with more than 1,500 practices in nearly every state, Aledade sees how the environment impacts patient health and wellbeing, as well as how climate change threatens every community by amplifying existing health disparities and causing new ones to emerge.

Over the past few years, Aledade has participated in several rounds of carbon removal purchases, most recently committing to purchase $2.2M in permanent CDR by 2030 via Watershed and Frontier Climate, which includes a long term offtake of Charm’s removals. We caught up with Will Palmisano, who led Aledade’s initial carbon removal purchases, and Lindsay Propper, who now leads the company’s ESG and climate strategy, to learn more about the beginnings of Aledade’s carbon removal purchases and what’s on deck for the future.

Check out Aledade’s carbon removal journey below, and if you’d like to learn more about Charm’s permanent carbon removals, reach out to sales@charmindustrial.com.


Why does climate action matter to Aledade?

Lindsay: As health care professionals, we’re deeply invested in the wellbeing of the communities we serve. We’re also a public benefit corporation, which means we make decisions that benefit not only our bottom line, but all of our stakeholders - from our patients to the clinicians we work with to society as a whole.

Aledade is the largest network of independent primary care practices in the U.S, so we see firsthand how climate impacts human health. What’s more, climate change disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable members of our society and exacerbates racial disparities in health outcomes - aspects of community health that Aledade is committed to addressing.

Will, how did you get involved in Aledade's sustainability program?

Will: Believe it or not, I don’t have a background in climate activism or environmental science — my background is actually in data analysis and strategy. When I was at Aledade, I was a Technical Product Manager, and my primary responsibility was helping build out Aledade’s core technology platforms.

I volunteered to lead Aledade's Climate Change Committee because I could see that our executive team was genuinely committed to doing something really significant on climate, and I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to make a meaningful impact on an issue I really care about. After learning the U.S. healthcare system is an outsized contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, we decided that rather than be part of the problem, we wanted to be part of the solution.

How did Aledade get started on its climate program?

Will: There was a lot we had to learn! We did a lot of research to develop a high-level strategy:

  • Measure our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions

  • Reduce our emissions to the greatest extent possible

  • Offset our emissions using high-quality carbon offsets to reach carbon neutrality

  • Catalyze nascent technologies/markets that we believe will be critical in the fight against climate change (e.g., CDR)

  • Speak up to inspire other companies within and beyond our industry to invest in climate solutions and to push for substantive policy changes

We also agreed on a few guiding principles. First, we would optimize our program for impact, not for accolades. If recognition followed, great, but it’s not what motivates our work. We also wanted our climate program to meet the same high standards for evidence and results that we uphold throughout our business. And finally, we would try to play to our strengths. As a smaller company, we knew we needed to pursue opportunities where our energy would have the largest possible impact due to unique insights or overlap with our core business.

What does Aledade’s climate program look like as a whole now? And how has that changed over your tenure?

Will: Unsurprisingly, our climate program looks very different from when we started! The most important difference is that we’ve transitioned this work from something volunteers were doing off the side of their desks into a core function of our business operations. The first step we took in this journey was to hire Lindsay, who has a deep background in corporate sustainability, to formally manage our climate program.

Lindsay: I’ve spent the majority of my career working for multinational corporations as they developed their climate and ESG strategies, so it was amazing to come to Aledade and see just how much work had already been done! My goal is to grow these early steps and make sure they become permanent parts of how Aledade operates. I’ve focused heavily on expanding leadership support for our climate work, implementing formal, cross-functional policies and processes, and developing transparent communications about our progress and results. I love how this work started as a passion project - I want to make sure this passion remains central to Aledade’s business, and that each and every one of our stakeholders feel that passion too.

How did Aledade decide to start purchasing carbon dioxide removal (CDR) in addition to offsets? And what attracted you to Charm as a CDR provider?

Will: After our first carbon footprint measurement, it became clear there was no viable path to get to zero emissions by solely relying on reductions. Around this time, Stripe announced their first round of CDR purchases and commitment to purchase at least $1M worth of CDR per year. We researched and came to the conclusion that supporting the CDR market was an incredibly impactful initiative for us to pursue alongside high-quality offsets. Because the CDR market is at such an early stage, every dollar spent and every customer secured has a tremendous impact on a company’s ability to scale up their operations, increasing supply and bringing down costs.

We were impressed that Charm's approach to CDR offers amazing co-benefits, like helping prevent and/or decrease the intensity of wildfires and associated air pollution, and providing an additional revenue stream for farmers. We also appreciate how Charm is at the forefront of increasing transparency for the entire sector. Their registry with public life cycle assessments for every delivery adds an extra layer of trust. Charm also has a demonstrated track record of making large deliveries, so we felt confident in their ability to deliver on their promises.

If someone wants to encourage their company to support CDR, what advice would you give them?

Will: My top recommendations to those considering CDR would be to:

  1. Recognize that starting small is absolutely okay! Aledade’s first purchase from Charm was only for 83 tons. It allowed us to dip our toes into the water and provided us with an opportunity to educate our executive, finance, and legal teams about CDR.

  2. Diversify your carbon offset portfolio to include CDR. Supporting CDR at this stage of its development has the potential to have a higher long term impact on global emissions than money spent on offsets.

  3. Understand that removals aren’t a substitute for reductions. While CDR is incredibly important, it shouldn’t distract from the fact that emissions reduction should be the primary focus of a high quality climate strategy.

  4. Lean into the fact that CDR is exciting! Scaling the carbon removal market may be one of the most ambitious projects our society will undertake. Early CDR customers have an opportunity to have a massive impact on the success of this venture.

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Sebastian Smith

Go-to-Market

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