Enter the dragon

As the Welsh Assembly brings in new environmental guidelines for NHS Trusts, Greg Roberts examines how the Green Dragon Standard aims to help

The Welsh Assembly has issued new guidelines calling on NHS Trusts in Wales to introduce an Environmental Management System (EMS), as part of a drive to reduce the impact of healthcare on the environment.

Implementation of the Green Dragon Standard is helping NHS Trusts to meet the new guidelines. The standard, a certified system developed by ARENA Network, is a five-stage EMS involving an initial review, the formulation of a comprehensive environmental policy and the continual improvement of environmental performance.

Since the successful introduction of the new green rules for NHS Trusts in Wales, ARENA Network has worked with National Britannia to develop a scheme for NHS Trusts in England. The scheme has already experienced a successful pilot study and is now being introduced to other Trusts to assist with the requirements of NHS risk management.

Chasing the dragon

The Green Dragon Standard enables the many NHS Trusts who have made good progress in implementing an EMS to obtain independent verification that the organisation is complying with its environmental duty.

Trusts which obtain levels three to five can use the Green Dragon logo on their corporate literature, receive a certificate and be featured on the official accreditation website.

NHS Trusts are large and diverse organisations to operate and manage. Implementing an environmental management system can help to reduce costs considerably, but it requires careful management and in some cases a change of culture.

Though suitable for any organisation, Green Dragon is particularly well suited to NHS Trusts and an expert at National Britannia is currently assisting two Welsh Trusts to implement the standard.

The first step towards achieving Green Dragon accreditation is to appoint an ‘Environmental Champion’ to co-ordinate activities and complete an environmental review. This measures the impact of the organisation’s activities and establishes its legal responsibilities. This information can then inform an organisational environmental policy.

In simple terms, a Green Dragon Standard at level one is based on the organisation’s commitment to operate in a way that is environmentally friendly. The organisation takes responsibility for the effect it has on the local environment and develops a plan to reduce its impact.

Level two focuses on complying with legislation, recognising all environmental impacts, establishing a green organisational culture and keeping environmental records. By documenting the precise activities that make an impact, individuals are encouraged to think and act in a way that is more environmentally friendly.

Trusts choosing to continue to levels three to five concentrate on reducing environmental impacts through training, carbon data collection, carbon emissions reduction and examining indirect effects on the environment.

Taking e-risks

Ceredigion and Mid Wales NHS Trust is currently working hard to attain level three. According to the Trust’s Gareth Roberts, “The Green Dragon Standard is highly attractive to complex organisations as it can be achieved in step-by-step stages. Implementing the standard has firmly embedded environmental awareness throughout the organisation.”

Ceredigion and Mid Wales is using National Britannia’s internet-based e-risk manager system to assist with implementation of the standard. The system is tailored to the client and provides a comprehensive environmental management programme. As the system is internet-based, it is ideal for multi-site organisations.

National Britannia itself recently achieved level five, the highest available Green Dragon Standard, at which level an organisation is expected to formalise a continual environmental improvement process that is reported to the public.

In the current climate it is more important than ever for companies to understand how to operate in an environmentally friendly way. If reducing your company’s impact on the environment is not enough to convince you of the need to implement an EMS, then think about the cost savings, legislative compliance and increased efficiency. Can you afford to ignore these advantages?

Greg Roberts is from National Britannia. For more information on the Green Dragon standard, visit www.greendragonems.com

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