Blog: Drive for energy efficient healthcare is delivering for patients and planet

Reduced emissions, cost savings, and better health and wellbeing. Improving energy efficiency in hospitals delivers value for the NHS and the communities it serves – in more ways than one.

That’s why the £635 million Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which opened this month, is welcome news. You can find out more on the website.

This funding scheme supports public sector organisations, including NHS hospitals, to invest in low-carbon heating and energy innovations like heat pumps, LED lighting, building fabric improvements, and renewable energy sources. The goal is simple: to help achieve the UK’s carbon reduction targets, while reducing energy costs and supporting energy resilience.

Healthcare buildings contribute 15% of the total NHS carbon footprint, which means that reducing emissions in this area is essential if the health service is to reach its world-first net zero goal.

Previous investment in public sector decarbonisation earlier this year is expected to save the taxpayer a total of £650 million per year. This round of funding saw more than 30 NHS healthcare facilities secure a total of £329 million for energy-efficient innovations and heat decarbonisation. In addition to the long-term cost savings, the NHS is estimated to save 1 million tonnes of carbon as a result of these recent investments; that’s the same as 1.6 million return flights from London to New York.

For healthcare, there is a clear, added win for patients and staff alike. Energy efficiency innovations, such as LED lighting, can create more comfortable and controllable healthcare environments. And reductions in emissions will help to mitigate the health harms of climate change; air pollution alone contributes to 1 in 20 deaths in the UK – and increases in cases of cancer, heart disease and asthma.

Beyond energy efficiency measures, NHS trusts are diversifying energy sources. At Castle Hill hospital in Hull, a new solar-powered “field of dreams” will provide all the power needed for the hospital in the summer months, while saving £300k off its energy bills. Solar panels in place in Milton Keynes Hospitals have saved £225k already. Torbay hospital was recently given the green light to develop a solar park. In Wolverhampton, they are moving ahead with renewable energy plans.

At a time when health, climate change, and energy costs, are all front of mind, investments that deliver value in more ways than one are much needed and much welcomed. It’s great to see NHS trusts around the country invest in decarbonisation and energy efficiency – for the benefit of health now and for future generations.

To find out more about this latest funding scheme, please get in touch with the Greener NHS or you can find out more on the website. To find out how we are building a greener NHS together, please visit our Greener NHS website and sign up to our Greener NHS e-bulletin.

Fiona Daly

As the National Deputy Director of Estates for NHS England, Fiona is tasked with leading the strategies, policies and national programmes to decarbonise of the NHS Estate, improve operational resilience and patient experience, and develop the 100,000 strong Estates and Facilities Workforce; driving innovation, engagement and delivery, and providing healthcare organisations with critical support they need to implement their plans.

Fiona has 17 years’ experience of working in Estates and Facilities Management and is passionate about reducing health and social inequalities, establishing an estate that supports the transition to sustainable models of care throughout the NHS. She is focused on driving the delivery of a healthy, resilient healthcare estate; tackling organisational leadership, investment in the built environment and developing the skills and capacity of the current and future NHS workforce. In 2018 she was made an honorary professor at University College London (UCL) for her contribution in supporting the development of students in her field.

Emma MoirEmma Moir

Emma Moir is the Greener NHS Deputy Director for Operations and Delivery. She works in partnership with the Greener NHS Team and Workstream leads including Estates and Facilities, Travel and Transport, Supply Chain, Medicines and Food to focus on the commitment to deliver a world-class net zero emission health service.

Emma joined NHS England in 2021, with over twenty years’ experience of high profile project delivery across government departments including BEIS, DEFRA, HMRC and Ministry of Justice. She is a qualified lawyer, having spent the earlier part of her career working in the court service.