NHS Wales at last taking action to cut its carbon footprint

Can’t find anything related to Aberystwyth in this press release by the NHS in Wales but I’m going to publish it anyway because it’s good green news and this blog likes good news.

The NHS in Wales will be undertaking a major exercise to assess its carbon footprint as part of the development of a low carbon strategy, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced today as part of Wales Sustainability Week.

This exercise will identify NHS Wales’ main sources of carbon emissions and opportunities for improving performance and reducing the carbon footprint. This is certainly long overdue. The Welsh Government is legally bound to produce a scheme setting out how it will promote sustainable development in all that it does.

Measures already introduced apparently include:

* All new hospitals are required to be designed to meet strict environmental performance standards. For example, the new developments at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda Llwynypia, Ysbyty Alltwen, Tremadog and Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan, Ebbw Vale all incorporate biomass boiler heating systems into their designs (the new Bronglais development in Aberystywth unfortunately not included)

* Existing hospitals, including University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, and the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrisant, are introducing new combined heat and power systems;

* A £3million Assembly Government fund has supported 149 schemes over the past three years, including installation of low energy external LED lighting, highly efficient condensing boilers, improved insulation, improved internal lighting controls and movement sensors, that together were projected to result in savings of 13,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the three-year lifetime of the fund;

* Figures for energy consumption across NHS Wales show that consumption fell by four per cent in 2008-09 over the previous year and is now 17 per cent lower than the 1999-2000 base year;

* All 18 major hospitals in Wales have developed travel plans to support staff, patients and visitors to travel by public transport, car sharing or by walking or cycling. Other hospitals are now developing similar plans.

Edwina Hart said: “As Wales’ biggest single employer and organisation, the NHS is a consumer of a considerable amount of goods and energy and generates a lot of travel as it works to care for the health and well-being of the people of Wales. The work that I am instigating on determining the carbon footprint of the NHS will help me identify where further efforts should be focussed and help to prioritise future work in this area. Being more energy efficient is not only good for the environment, but also helps to save money.”

Examples of specific new measures are:

* The University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff has replaced its ageing combined heat and power unit with new, energy-efficient model. It is believed to be one of the largest in the UK and is the largest in NHS Wales and has the potential to achieve carbon savings estimated to be in excess of 3000 tonnes of CO2 per year compared to traditional grid supplied electricity. The £3.8million installation is estimated to provide annual savings of £1.6million, based on current energy prices.

* The Aneurin Bevan Health Board has introduced waste segregation and mixed recycling facilities across the estate, resulting in recycling rates in excess of 50 per cent of domestic waste being achieved in some of its hospitals and a reduction across the LHB of twenty eight percent in the amount of waste being landfilled.

* The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has invested in new equipment to recover waste oil from the kitchens to convert it into bio-diesel for use in grounds maintenance vehicles and equipment.

All very heartening. The next thing NHS Wales needs to tackle is its attitude to the Welsh language.