Blogs - LCB Healthcare
Mind the Gap....healthcare buildings and the challenges of a low carbon future
Date: Oct 08, 2010
Go to your favourite search engine, type in phrases like ‘CO2’, ‘carbon reduction targets’, ‘healthcare buildings’, and ‘European policies’, and you’ll find a fairly consistent message. Consider just these three findings from a quick Google work-out:
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) reported in 2007 that global greenhouse gas emissions were set to increase by 25% to 90% between 2000 and 2030, even with current climate change mitigation policies.
- The UK’s Learning Network for Sustainable Healthcare Buildings (SHINE) website tells us that the NHS produces 3.4 million tons of CO2 every year.
- The European Commission is concerned that most sectors of the economy are not doing enough, fast enough, to meet current CO2 reduction targets.
Dr Jonathan (Jack) Frost, Director Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells Says:
Nov 09, 2010
The problem highlighted here is the 'elephant in the room' that is so often ignored in the Climate Change debate. Nearly everyone agrees that reducing carbon emissions is a good idea but no one sees it as their top priority. Successful suppliers are very good at spotting what the customer really wants and making sure they provide it more effectively than their competitors. If the customer is saying lower carbon would be nice but actually winning the contract is all about having the lowest up front capital cost and lowest execution risk then its suicidal to add an innovative low carbon dimension to the proposal.
Of course low carbon solutions frequently have better whole life costs but tenders are rarely configured to value lower whole cost more highly than low capital cost and even where the tender says whole life costs matter grim experience shows that this is not borne out in practice Perhaps even more insidious is the chain of transferred responsibility described so well above. The professionals in the chain (consultants, designers, project managers) find it much easier, and from a liability perspective much safer, to specify well proven designs and technologies. These are the very designs and technologies that are responsible for our high carbon world.
A way to close the 'low carbon gap' described above is to make having the best whole life carbon performance of the building or its subsystems a source of substantial competitive advantage for the supply chain. To my mind nothing would bring low carbon options to market more quickly than customers saying, other things being equal, the lowest carbon solution wins the contract. The challenge for supply chain managers is to find ways to credibly engage the supply chain in the delivery of innovative low carbon solutions. Present approaches all too frequently lack this essential credibility and generate little competition amongst suppliers
Grant Mills, Research Associate, HaCIRIC, Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborou Says:
Nov 12, 2010
The need to reduce carbon across the whole healthcare system requires a great deal of integrated working between clinical, building and transport infrastructure decision makers. An understanding of the scale and distribution of services is critical and the question is how can infrastructure capacities meet population demands to achieve the highest possible quality. I would be very interested to hear if anyone has done or heard of a whole system carbon study? Most that I have read only deal with a small sub-system or narrow built component, rather than looking at a whole-system-life view? HaCIRIC wrote a recent conference article that again only address a small part of a much larger picture.
Our study of a single Midlands healthcare region shows that shifting only a few care specialities closer to home can have a significant carbon saving. Our research of the area which has a population of some 660,000, has found that shifting 190,000 patient journeys closer to home can have a significant carbon saving - more than 5 million KgCO2 across the whole system. For patients, this means a total travel distance reduction of 3.6 million kilometres a year. These gains could be even greater as more radical care pathway changes are adopted or if patients are more frequently treated in their homes using remote technologies. All of this suggests considerable opportunities for reducing carbon. It presents GP and acute commissioners with some important challenges in working together with their partners to reduce carbon.
A big problem is that existing healthcare planning tools are often inadequate and inflexible to scenario model the implications for transport carbon of shifting services. We need more research so healthcare planners can really understand the options and trade-offs between different service configurations and carbon emissions.
Strategic Health Authorities and PCTs in the UK are being devolved and as a result Local Authorities, Fioundation Trusts and GP Consortia must work together to build a unified whole system approach to healthcare access and planning to ensure emissions are understood, planned for and kept to a minimum. More detail: go to HaCIRIC International Conference Proceedings pp141-150 http://www.haciric.org/static/doc/events/HaCIRIC10_Conference_Proceedings.pdf Grant Mills is Research Associate, HaCIRIC, Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University.