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NHS launches strategy to address emissions

Hospitals, medical centres and surgeries could soon be forced to review their heating and ventilation strategies on an annual basis as the NHS looks to dramatically cut its carbon footprint.

Its Carbon Reduction Strategy has been launched for consultation and it aims to slash emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 in all areas, including building energy use. Proposals include forcing every NHS Trust to have a Carbon Management Strategy by 2009 and demanding organisations report annually on their progress.

Cal Bailey, marketing director at NG Bailey, which is providing m&e services for two new hospitals in Liverpool, said: “Not much progress has been made in this direction by the NHS up to now. It is the right thing to do for all property owners and the NHS is no exception.

“Until now patient care and cost have been the primary drivers and sustainability has not been. Now legislation has put it on the radar.”

He said hospitals posed challenges to sustainability strategies because of the higher temperatures in premises compared with other public buildings, plus the need to promote cleanliness and infection control.

He said: “If they move to proper whole-life costing it will have a major impact on the design of the buildings.

“The first things I think will change dramatically are the quality of the building fabric, more air tightness and lower thermal conductivity. The second thing will be looking for energy from new sources such as renewables. The two major ones we have used are combined heat and power with biomass and ground source heat pumps – both are really suitable for hospitals.”

Mr Bailey urged the NHS to be clear on what it wants to achieve: “The thing which would be the nightmare is if the design objectives are not clear.”

The NHS is responsible for more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year from heating and lighting, powering its equipment, procuring goods and services and transport for patients and staff. It spends £429 million each year on electricity and heating.