HB Q&A: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Health Business talks to Chris Kelly, Associate Director - Estates Compliance & Risk at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, about the organisation's sustainability achievements

HB: Last year, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust became the first NHS hospital trust to officially become Carbon Literate. What practical outcomes are likely to be seen as a result of this step?

During the Carbon Literacy training, staff learn about the impacts of climate change in healthcare, breaking them down by sector and learning what the big emissions in the NHS are and what targets are in place to tackle them. They also learn about practical, everyday ways to meet these targets.

All participants are required to make an individual and group action pledge as part of the training. This encourages them to commit to taking action within their job role to reduce carbon emissions.

Examples of pledges include developing a plan to decarbonise the heating and hot water across the hospital sites, promote sustainable practices within every clinical unit, and emphasise the importance of acting now to address climate change.

By committing to these tangible actions, our Carbon Literacy training has encouraged positive behaviour change throughout our organisation to drive a reduction in emissions.

The actions of individuals can and do make a difference. Staff who have completed a days' worth of approved Carbon Literacy learning can be certified as Carbon Literate, and each Carbon Literate individual is expected to reduce their carbon footprint by five-15 per cent. So it's easy to see why it's so important that we educate our teams on climate change.

We believe this training, this deepening of awareness, is a valuable tool in helping us become a greener organisation and embed sustainability across the Trust. We have now undertaken training throughout Estates and Facilities, ICU, Theatres and Anaesthesia, with more teams planned this year.

HB: As a Carbon Literate organisation, the trust has pledged to analyse the opportunity to reduce the food miles and carbon foot print. How important is this in pursuing a more sustainable way of working?

It is estimated that food and catering services in the NHS account for approximately six per cent of the NHS' Carbon Footprint. When you consider the farming, production, distribution and delivery of food, the carbon footprint quickly adds up; you then need to factor in the amount of food wasted.

A balanced meal is also a low carbon meal, combining seasonal and locally sourced fruit and vegetables and reduced processed foods high in sugar, salt and fats. The trust catering teams provide over two million nutritious meals every year to meet the needs of our diverse range of patients. We do not underestimate the role that healthy meals play in our patients' recovery.

Food and nutrition will be a key theme within the next revision of our Green Plan, and it will include a suite of actions to address key issues, including waste, the carbon impact of food and the types of food we are procuring. We already aim to source food locally and will take this further by ensuring we monitor our food miles and reduce the carbon footprint across the entire supply chain. We will also look at encouraging more staff and patients to choose plant-based meals.

Food waste is another significant source of carbon, by 2024 the trust will have implemented a separate food waste stream in accordance with the Environment Bill. Reducing our food waste reduces our environmental impact and costs, enabling us to provide healthier, locally sourced food to patients, staff, and visitors.

HB: The trust has invested over £700,000 in upgrading the lighting across the estate, saving an estimated £60,000 a year. What are the next steps in improving energy efficiency within the hospital estate?

We have one of the largest estates in the NHS, and our buildings range from Victorian listed properties to brand new developments, with challenges and opportunities across all six of our sites.

All senior members of the Estates and Facilities team have undertaken Carbon Literacy training and now understand the importance of improving the efficiency of our estate, with energy playing a significant role in this.

Currently, we are undertaking a comprehensive programme of works to improve energy efficiency across our estate. Funded through the Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, and to date, over £13 million has been spent on energy improvements.

Projects include installing air and water source heat pumps, replacing single glazed windows with low ‘U’ value double glazing and upgrading the Building Management Systems (BMS) to Building Energy Management Systems (BeMS). As well as roofing insulation upgrades and the installation of solar photovoltaics

In addition, we have connected Beckett Wing, part of the trust's estate at St James's Hospital to the district heating network. This means that the waste we send to the Leeds Recycling & Energy Recovery Facility generates low carbon heat for the Trust and the local area.

The combined projects will save approximately 2,358 tonnes of carbon a year and be complete in Spring 2022. We will then commence work on phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Mott MacDonald has also been appointed by the Trust to produce a Net Zero Strategy and undertake a detailed review of the existing estate infrastructure across all our sites. They will be modelling current energy and carbon demands to identify opportunities for targeted investment, setting our future performance parameters that are aligned to the trust's Green Plan, Leeds City Council, and partner organisations.

HB: The Sustainable Action Plan commits Leeds Teaching Hospitals to a range of actions that will help move the organisation forward on its pathway to net-zero. How is this to be monitored and managed?

Our Sustainable Action Plan sets out 105 actions, split across ten key focus areas. These actions range from energy saving initiatives to staff engagement and education campaigns that will drive fundamental changes to how the trust operates and improve our environmental, social and economic performance.

The plan was developed through extensive staff engagement, and the actions are ambitious but achievable, allowing us to meet our net zero targets whilst providing high-quality care.

For ease of implementation, each action has a designated lead and timescale. Progress is reviewed quarterly by the Strategic Sustainability Group and reported annually to the trust board.

The Sustainable Action Plan will be updated to coincide with the launch of the revised Green Plan, and will be implemented over the next three years.

By trying to embed sustainability in all activities, we have seen reductions in carbon emissions, water consumption and our contribution to air pollution.

The successful implementation of the plan has required a collaborative effort from all of our colleagues, and we continue to work with partners across Leeds to support and progress sustainability within the city.

HB: How central is sustainability in the Building the Leeds Way vision?

Building the Leeds Way is a long-term vision to transform healthcare facilities across Leeds Teaching Hospitals for our patients and staff. This incorporates the trust's Hospitals of the Future Project, which will see the construction of two new state-of-the-art hospitals in Leeds.

We knew from the outset that it is vital that the new hospitals should be designed and constructed to a rigorous set of requirements, to ensure the construction of environmentally responsible buildings, not just for today but for the next 60 years and beyond.

Our design brief stated the need for an integrated approach that provides world class patient facilities and minimises waste and energy use by using renewable energy sources, construction materials and methods. The approved designs by architects Perkins & Will, seek to address our sustainability criteria with a holistic, whole life-cycle approach to focusing on net zero carbon and delivering against construction industry benchmark standards such as WELL and BREEAM.

The buildings will feature lots of natural light and the carbon impact will be minimised through the careful selection of materials, such as high levels of insulation window areas that efficiently balance the penetration of daylight and heat loss.

Sustainability has also played an important role in demolishing parts of the Leeds General Infirmary site that are being cleared to make way for the two new hospitals, with DSM Demolition aiming to recycle between 95 per cent and 99 per cent of the old buildings.

Some of the sustainability measures that are being considered include rainwater collection and bio-filtration, onsite solar energy harvesting, passive design and energy re-capture, bird, bat and bee hotels, outdoor gardens and terraces and sophisticated energy management systems that maximise energy efficiency and minimise waste.

Collaboration between the trust and the designers has ensured sustainable practice is embedded throughout both new hospitals and will create life-long buildings that are adaptable to the changing nature of healthcare.

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