NHS Property Services, responsible for around 10 per cent of the health service's estate, claims clean tech efforts helped cut CO2 by more than 40,000 tonnes last year
Efforts to decarbonise the UK's National Health Service (NHS) delivered further environmental and financial benefits last year, with a combination of renewable power contracts, LED lighting, and building energy efficiency improvements all helping to slash emissions across more than a tenth of its estate, according to NHS Property Services.
Responsible for around 10 per cent of the NHS estate, the UK state-owned firm looks after more than 3,500 properties, including hospitals, health centres, and GP surgeries. It last week offered a new update on its corporate social responsibility progress, confirming it has completed a switch to 100 per cent renewable power and stepped up energy saving efforts.
As of April, all NHSPS properties are now running on renewable electricity thanks to two enegy contracts, one with British Gas and one with Corona, in a move that it claims will offset 37,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Moreover, it upgraded to LED lighting across more than 40 properties through 2019 and early 2020 as part of a £1.5m investment which is estimated to have saved 830 tonnes of CO2 a year. Further energy efficiency improvements were identified by a specially created 'Energy Leads' group dedicated to analysing data on buildings' energy use and identifying improvements, it added. "This has resulted in annual energy savings in out-of-hours running costs, equating to approximately 4,600 tonnes of CO2," the firm's updated sustainability report claims.
Over the next year, the company - which spends around £50m a year on utility services, equating to 130,000 tonnes of carbon - said it would continue its energy efficiency drive, in addition to replacing all remaining oil boilers across its managed estate.
The firm has also worked to reduce its waste, rolling out plant-made Vegware disposable cutlery in three properties, distributing 4,000 reusable stainless steel bottles to staff to replace disposable plastic water bottles, and increasing the use of dry mixed recycling on its sites, it said.
The new sustainability measures are being pursued as part of the firm's Corporate Sustainability Framework, adopted in 2018, as well as the broader For A Greener NHS Campaign, announced earlier this year as part of the health service's efforts to tackle climate change.
As part of the campaign, an expert panel chaired by Dr Nick Watts was convened to set out how the health service can reach net zero emissions ahead of the UK's overall 2050 deadline, considering where changes to the service's medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies could cut emissions, and how technology could be used to reduce the number of outpatient appointments. The panel's findings will be outlined in a report due later this year, although the publication timetable has been suspended due to Covid-19-related disruption.
It follows a separate report last year found that health and care systems are responsible for 5.4 per cent of the UK's carbon footprint.
The Prime Minister recently wrote to the Council for Science and Technology to broadly welcome proposals for a sweeping national net zero decarbonisation programme
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