Hospital building

NHE365: Widening the scope to decarbonise the NHS estate

During NHE365’s Net-Zero NHS event, Cameron Hawkins, Head of Energy and Environment, for NHS Property Services highlighted the importance of taking responsibility when it comes to the impact of climate change in the health sector.

NHs Property Services have a portfolio of more than 3,000 properties, which accounts for 10% of the NHS estate, and they have already taken steps to reduce this in terms of the future designs of new buildings.

Cameron Hawkins explained during the virtual conference: “When we did our carbon footprint, we had over 100,000 tonnes, with gas being our biggest challenge.

“So, being able to understand the demands on the site is key, so we can meet the targets and that we have infrastructure that is fit for purpose for years to come."

He made the point of how the focus of reducing costs in carbon to ensure there was a commercial payback has shifted within the organisation.

"When we look to build the business case to decarbonize, we needed to widen the scope.

"We can no longer just look at the commercial aspects. It's no longer about asking for a boiler to be replaced, it's looking at the whole system.

"It's not just the case of building a new building, it's a case of maintaining it, or fixing it, and at the end of life replacing it."

Kirti Rudra, Energy and Carbon Solutions Director, for Engie shared how decarbonisation of heat was one of the biggest challenges, in terms of finding the best energy alternative that is cost effective “from an investment point of view and long-term plan."

She also discussed some of the work that is being done to reduce the impact on the NHS, as well as the importance of working with suppliers: “We've seen examples of NHS trust’s engaging with local communities and insulating homes, which can reduce the burden on the NHS.

"With scope 3 emissions, one of the best steps for us is understanding how much of the carbon footprint comes from a supplier."

When looking forward and considering what can be done to ensure that targets are achieved, and that the plans are implemented, Michelle McCann, Estates, Facilities and Professional Services Category Director, for NHS London Procurement Partnership, shared how some of that comes down to changing behaviours and how staff work together and take responsibility.

"We need to share the knowledge so that we can develop specifications that are fit for the future and get us where we need to be.

"We need to move to a total cost of ownership model so that we can present the savings over the life rather than in just year 1.

"By changing some of the internal process and the way clinics are run we can then reduce demand."

Matthew Tulley, Director of Built Environment, for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: "The real opportunities are around the nature of how we deliver the services. One of the good things to come out of everything has been video clinics for example, which has a huge impact.

"The use of the buildings by the staff is super important, where they are consuming unnecessary energy."

Preeya Bailie, Director of Procurement Transformation & Commercial Delivery, at NHS England, talked about the part that procurement play in all of this, “The role of procurement is critical in achieving net zero and it is critical that we buy greener.

"The purchasing power that we have in the NHS can really help drive positive social and economic change."

The NHS has a UK carbon footprint of 5%, and the NHS Long Term Plan, along with the Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service report has reiterated the sustainable solutions needed to achieving net-zero by 2040, but is this possible?

Ian Stenton, National Sustainability Programme Manager at NHS England & NHS Improvement said: “Being able to go to a board and say this needs to be done rather than I would like this to change, really makes a difference."

Ms McCann explained: "The first rule of sustainability is to not disregard [old buildings], because there is a carbon impact to build a new building.

"We will have good carbon neutral buildings and should do everything we can to decarbonize existing ones."

Paul Graham, Waste and Sustainability Manager, for Kingston Hospital NHS FT concluded: "I think we will get to carbon zero, but I don't know when, but we are heading in the right direction."

The sessions so far at the NHE365 Event – Net-Zero NHS – will be available to view on-demand by registering to the NHE365 virtual festival platform.

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