‘A landmark moment’: NHS to boost renewable energy sourcing

Under the deals

NHS Property Services (NHSPS) is responsible for more than 3,500 buildings, including hospitals, health centres and GP surgeries. These properties collectively total more than 34 million square feet.

Under new contracts signed through Inspired Energy, all of these properties will be switched to 100% renewable electricity in April. The contract will also see a shift to lower-carbon natural gas for heating.

NHSPS claims the switch will reduce its annual direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) carbon emissions by more than 40,000 tonnes.

In addition to the new energy contracts, NHSPS is investing in an estate-wide roll-out of energy-efficient LED lighting. £1.5m has been set aside for investment in LEDs across the 2019-2020 financial year.

By making these moves in tandem, NHSPS’s chief operating officer Martin Steele said, the organisation can reduce operational and maintenance costs while decarbonising.

“We take our responsibility towards reducing the environmental impact of our buildings very seriously,” said Steele. “Switching to 100% renewable electricity for all our buildings is a landmark moment in efforts to transform our NHS portfolio into a sustainable estate.”

A healthy future

Given that the NHS accounts for between 4 and 5% of the UK’s total carbon footprint on an annual basis, its decarbonisation will be crucial to the UK’s ability to meet its 2050 net-zero target.

Last September, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said the organisation would develop a framework of co-ordinated measures to reduce its carbon footprint within a year. He also said NHS England would develop resources to help staff discuss the potential health impacts of climate change and other environmental issues, such as air pollution.

At a policy level, the UK Government’s Long Term Plan for the NHS, unveiled in January 2019, includes measures to decarbonise the organisation’s estate and fleet. On buildings, the LED lighting roll out is listed alongside investment in ‘smart’ energy management systems. The plan additionally states that NHS England will “dispose” of “unnecessary” land, buildings and equipment in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint and operating costs, reinvesting money generated through the sale of these assets into green housing for NHS staff.

Nonetheless, the plan was developed in line with the original Climate Change Act 2008, before it was updated to commit the UK to net-zero by 2050. Further interventions will likely be needed to align with this new goal.

To find out more about NHSPS’s sustainability work, you can read edie’s profile with Rhea Horlock, the organisation’s CSR manager.

Mission Possible: Achieving a net-zero future for the public sector

Late last month, edie published an exclusive downloadable report exploring how the organisations across the UK’s public sector are driving towards net-zero across their own operations and local communities.

The report was developed following in-depth research carried out with a number of sustainability, energy and carbon managers working for the public sector, along with experts from industry associations. Download it for free here.

Sarah George

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