Construction and property services provider Wates Group is leading a new partnership to support NHS trusts to develop and implement their decarbonisation strategies.
The Decarbonising Health Estates Partnership (DHEP) , launched today (19 October) was set up at an industry round table discussion on the NHS’s net zero challenge. Senior NHS leaders claim that decarbonising the NHS estate is “fundamentally not complex”, but more data and greater guidance is needed.
Led by Wates, alongside a multidisciplinary team of built environment specialists including Arup and HKS Architects, DHEP will drive forward sustainability within hospital infrastructure, focusing on existing NHS estates. The move heralds NHS England’s publication of its Net Zero Carbon Delivery Plan later this month.
The initial round table meeting was chaired by Stephen Dorrell, former secretary of state for health and chair of the NHS Confederation, on 12 October. Speaking at the event, representatives from NHS England and local NHS trusts maintained that at their core hospitals are “another place where people gather” – like restaurants and hotels – and that the health sector should be taking lessons from other industries as it works towards the NHS’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions under its direct control by 2040.
The NHS is the main public sector contributor to climate change in the UK, representing more than 5 per cent of the UK’s total carbon footprint – equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 11 coal-fired power stations. The existing NHS estate and its supporting facilities services comprise 15 per cent of the total carbon emissions profile.
The round table highlighted the need for trusts to invest in data collection and share experiences to understand what changes will have the most impact and ensure they are getting the “biggest bang for their buck”.
It also explored the options for NHS trusts to act as sustainability leaders in their local communities by using their vast buying power to influence the behaviours of local suppliers to cut their carbon footprints.
DHEP will use its expertise to develop tailored solutions for NHS trusts, helping them to find cost-effective solutions to cut Scope 1 and 3 emissions in infrastructure ranging from whole estates to individual buildings. It will focus on delivering progress through improvements in the built environment, such as building fabric and building services systems, as well as helping trusts to identify what information and data is required to undertake this work.
Bonnie Chu, healthcare design director at Wates Group, said: “Existing NHS estates are more challenging to decarbonise than new-build facilities and will be crucial in helping the NHS reach their ambitious net zero targets. As an industry, however, we need to take a step back and take a holistic approach to simplify the opportunities available, using our experiences from other sectors be that hospitality through to education and applying them to a healthcare setting. This exciting new partnership aims to actively work with trusts to develop solutions which can transform their estates so that they are sustainable and fit for a net-zero future.”
Mike Booth, Arup’s director and healthcare business lead, added: “Work undertaken to identify and address carbon emissions across the NHS has highlighted the challenges existing healthcare facilities face. Significant maintenance issues, historic infrastructure and buildings and a lack of capital all hamper the NHS’s net zero carbon ambition. At Arup we bring together consultancy and design expertise to produce highly sustainable environments for clients across all sectors.”
Paul Sawyers, HKS Architects’ principal and director of health, said: “Of course, the hospital buildings themselves are only part of the story, but making up around a quarter of NHS carbon output, it’s a really key element. I look forward to continuing work as part of this partnership, to deliver a more sustainable future that still puts patient experience front and centre.”
Round table participants included sustainability leads for NHS England, as well as representatives from local NHS trusts including Imperial College Healthcare and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Wates Group said that a white paper exploring the decarbonisation of NHS estates will be developed following the launch.
Image credit | DHEP