Taras Verkhoglyad
Sales Development Representative, Arloid Automation

How Can Hospitals Reduce Carbon Footprint?

The healthcare sector accounts for 4.4% of net global emissions. In the US, this rises to 10% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, the carbon footprint of the NHS stood at 6.1MtCO2e in 2019. Clearly, tackling the carbon footprint of healthcare and hospitals is imperative for achieving our net zero targets.

Arloid is behind some of the most advanced AI technology on the planet. We help buildings in all sectors improve the efficiency of their HVAC systems in order to achieve emissions reductions of up to 30%. With our help, hospitals all over the world are making tangible progress towards their environmental targets.

In this guide, we highlight a number of steps hospital managers can take to reduce the carbon footprint of their building.

Sustainable Procurement

A large proportion of healthcare emissions originate in the supply chain and the lifecycle of procured goods. In fact, the procurement of pharmaceuticals and their wastage accounts for 22% of the entire carbon footprint of the NHS. To combat this issue, look to implement sustainable procurement principles. For example, you could map out your preferred product attributes (e.g., latex free, mercury free, BPA free, recyclable) and only make purchases that have at least one of these qualities. You should also look to conduct a lifecycle analysis of the goods you procure for hospital use, ensuring you take steps to limit environmental impact at every stage. Finally, make sure food provided to patients and staff is grown or sourced locally and sustainably.

Telemedicine

Inevitably, many emissions created by healthcare systems are out of the hospital’s direct control. Patient travel is one example. Some hospitals are looking to target these emissions by prioritising telemedicine wherever possible. Unless the patient has a condition that requires regular in-person check-ups, most reviews, consultations, and updates can take place via the phone or online. Before scheduling any appointments, encourage practitioners to consider if it is really necessary to invite the patient in. By making the move towards telemedicine, hospitals and healthcare buildings will be dramatically reducing the number of patients travelling to the facility, and prioritising the ones who truly need in-person care.

Improved Waste Management

Hospitals have large and complex waste requirements, but sustainable waste management practices can make a big difference to the building’s overall carbon footprint. Above all, you should look to reduce the amount of waste you produce – particularly disposable, non-recyclable waste – through being more resourceful and reusing materials. Some hospitals have even started using reusable containers and dispensers to significantly cut the amount of disposable plastic they consume. These containers are sterilised after use, and put back into circulation. Any unavoidable waste should ideally be recycled or composted. Of course, certain waste streams like clinical, pharmaceutical, and hazardous waste do require specialist disposal methods like incineration, so look to reduce waste here as much as you can.

Alternative Transport

As discussed, some hospital emissions like transport are out of the direct control of building managers. However, there are ways to promote greener travel among staff and patients. For starters, make the switch to alternative fuels for all hospital vehicles, as this will offer dramatic emissions reductions. For those travelling to the hospital, it’s a good idea to facilitate active travel and public transport where possible. Of course, to do so, there will be certain amounts of infrastructure required like bike shelters, staff showers, bus stops, electric vehicle charging points, and more. Whether you are looking to make a significant investment or just install a few cycle racks, any steps you can take to accommodate sustainable transport are worth it.

Energy Production

Many hospitals are making the switch to renewable energy not only to reduce emissions, but also to cut energy costs and improve air quality. There are a range of options available including installing solar panels, turbines, or biofuel generators depending on what is realistic for your building and budget. If investing in renewable energy creation isn’t feasible right now, you could also look to assess the composition of energy from your current supplier and switch to a cleaner alternative.

Green Building Design

Hospitals are uniquely diverse buildings, with their construction often spanning decades, with new wings added over the years to accommodate changing requirements and capacities. For any new buildings or wards, green building design principles should always be used. By doing so, you ensure any new structure is responsive to climate conditions, energy and resource efficient, and optimised for occupant comfort. For existing healthcare buildings, there are still options for retrospective improvement. For example, you could look to retrofit insulation to improve energy performance, or upgrade to LED lights and double-glazing.

Greener Anaesthesia

Just 7 hours of anaesthesia with desflurane produces the same volume of emissions as a return car journey from Zurich to Beijing. This staggering statistic proves that tackling anaesthetic emissions is mission critical for healthcare systems worldwide. Desflurane is the most common anaesthetic gas used, but it has 20 times the environmental impact of other less harmful greenhouse gases. In the UK, anaesthesia account for 2% of all NHS emissions. Making the switch from standard anaesthetic gases to more climate-friendly alternatives has the power to cut hospital emissions significantly without compromising patient care. With a range of alternatives on the market, choosing gases with low warming effects is easier than ever before.

HVAC Optimisation

Hospitals have highly nuanced temperature, humidity, air quality, and airflow requirements. For that reason, HVAC optimisation is vital to guarantee patient comfort and staff performance – as well as cut down on energy spend. First off, you should make sure you have diligent cleaning and maintenance procedures in place, as a build up of dust and irregular servicing can cause unforeseen and highly disruptive issues, alongside poor energy efficiency. To achieve total HVAC optimisation, smart technology holds the key. Innovative AI is capable of segmenting hospital zones into unique microclimates – after all, aseptic operative theatres, recovery wards, and kitchens will all have distinct challenges and ideal conditions. Trained via Deep Reinforcement Learning, this AI technology is capable of proactively managing hospital HVAC to provide better comfort as well as lower energy consumption. The result? A 30% slice off your carbon footprint in just 60 days.

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Reduce Hospital Emissions with Cutting-Edge AI

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