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Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust are leading the way for sustainability through the Green Watch project which brings strategic technological advancements together with wider engagement on sustainability, committing the Trust to reducing its carbon emissions by 47.9% over the next 10 years.
The Trust has adopted a number of mechanisms to monitor sustainability improvements via its Estates Strategy, Sustainability Policy, new governance arrangements and board-level reporting, all delivered by the Trusts Sustainability Lead supported by the Sustainability Group.
As part of its new Estates Strategy and in line with the 2012 Carbon Management Plan, the Trust developed the Green Watch project in early 2015 in order to detail the action required to meet the Trusts annual target.
The Green Watch identified the need for a Combined Heat and Power unit (CHP) to be installed on site and this was achieved in December 2015, which delivered an immediate 25% reduction in carbon emissions.
The CHP project was supplemented with additional work on Air Handling systems, by adding variable speed drives (VSD) to control the amount of airflow and reduce energy consumption in October 2015. In addition various energy saving improvements were completed across site in 2015, for example within our new capital build projects and in total the Trust reduced its carbon emissions by approximately 29% in a single year.
The Green Watch recognises the importance of ensuring a systematic staff engagement programme, to deliver sustainability and improved health outcomes. In response to this a Staff Engagement programme was developed in 2015 and launched in early 2016 that aims to involve staff at all levels across the organisation to implement sustainability ensuring the necessary change is delivered.
The programme conveys the slogan ‘Time for Change’. Green Watch members were encouraged to sign-up to champion the programme and a series of planned workshops aims to identify, prioritise and galvanise sustainable action whilst mobilising the workforce towards more sustainable healthy lifestyles.
The year of staff action began with the Green Ward competition. The goal of the competition was to encourage clinical staff to take part in reducing energy, waste and improving care, as part of the Trust sustainable development activity. The winner was announced at the annual NHS Sustainability Day event on 24th March 2016.
We decided that we needed to draw upon independent external experience of managing and minimising the increasing burden of costs and legislative compliance.
We wanted to develop and implement sustainable cost saving strategies & solutions, together with a core focus of waste, energy and water efficiency solutions.
So we appointed Carbon Architecture as our consultants, to advise us and to act as our sustainability managers, due to their experience with advising high-energy users, and with NHS Trusts particularly.
We had already used the Carbon Architecture team – in fact it was they who originally proposed a CHP for the Trust, did the feasibility study and then helped us procure and implement it.
Carbon Architecture did the concept design, procurement and raised loan finance for project to implement variable speed drives on their air handling units.
We analysed our current setup and we had our consultants provide comparatives of where additional efficiency savings could be made and how the system could be optimised further.
This led Carbon Architecture to study our needs holistically and after discussions with ourselves they wrote and implemented a Sustainability Policy for the Trust.
One of our initiatives is a Cycle-to-Work scheme with videos – made by carbon Architecture – to explain what was on offer and demonstrate how staff could park offsite venue and cycle to work.
We also worked with our consultants to implement a number of other projects relating to air handling and lighting.
Our project has demonstrated environmental, financial and health impacts.
- The new CHP Energy Centre provided a 25% carbon reduction and allowed the Trust to generate its own electricity and utilise the waste heat to generate hot water.
- This provides 30-40% improved efficiency, compared with grid electricity and a boiler.
- The new CHP has provided financial savings since day one, with electricity consumption halved in its first month of operation. The project can be considered as an exemplar project by integrating a CHP into an operational PFI building.
- The addition of Variable Speed Drives to Air Handling Units has enabled a 3% reduction in carbon emissions, by allowing control of air flow to reduce energy consumption. This project brings additional co-benefits to patient care by ensuring air flow and providing a comfortable health-promoting environment.
- The Staff Engagement programme holds a target of 1.5% reduction in its first year, and initial activity via the Green Ward competition has already highlighted the potential for improvements to patients and clinical care to ensure sustainable care pathways and achieve significant financial savings. Wards participating in the competition range from Cardiology, Oncology and Pathology, and the Sustainability Group will ensure the benefits of the project are promoted, and applied systematically across the Trust.
- We installed variable speed drives on air handling units – this saved £20,000 a year.
- And we finally procured our CHP unit, commissioned a few months ago and on target to make us savings of £225,000 a year!
- In a single year the Trust reduced its Carbon emissions by approximately 29%. This equates to a reduction of approximately 2,812 tCO2.
- The guaranteed cost savings for the CHP is £240,000 a year and for the VDS project is £20,000 a year, therefore over the 10 year project the estimated cost savings will be in the region of £2,600,000 alone for these projects.
Further cost savings and carbon reductions will be made with future planned projects within the 10 year strategy period:
- The Estates Strategy and Green Watch programme provides a clear route for delivery of sustainability enhancements in both the operational and wider context.
- In 2016/17 the Trust has planned to continue its upgrading light project to energy efficient LED lights throughout the hospital. Getting the lighting right at our hospital is important for the energy efficiency of the building and the well-being of our patients and staff. This upgrade is estimated at delivering a further 5% carbon emission savings over 2 years.
- The staff engagement programme will also continue into a 2nd year with the aim of improving both sustainability and patient care outcomes through simple everyday actions and so reducing carbon emissions at our hospital. We believe by continuing the programme this will develop an engaged team of ‘Green Watch’ champions to keep the pressure on all our staff and provide the required motivation for change.
- In addition we will continue to work with the local community and supply partners raising awareness of sustainability and effects of climate change. We have also planned additional work streams that enhance sustainability.
- Simultaneously, renewable energy such as solar panels and off-site wind projects will be explored, with a view to establishing a longer term community energy project.
- The Strategy recognises the success of small scale renewable energy projects, however to achieve the necessary return on investment, any renewable technologies will be required to deliver benefits to the whole site.