The Healthcare sector has one of the largest carbon footprints in Australia, accounting for seven per cent of the country’s emissions.
Sydney Childrens Hospitals Network (SCHN), the largest Australian paediatric healthcare entity, and Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD), one of the leading health services in Australia, have set aspirational ‘net zero by 2035’ emissions targets and are committed to reducing their environmental impact.
We partnered with SCHN and NSLHD, supported by the Office of Energy & Climate Change in the NSW Treasury, to understand and document each health district’s carbon footprint and map a pathway to net zero emissions. This work represents the first time a detailed scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions footprint has been undertaken for New South Wales’ health organisations.
The pathways include recommendations for sustainable procurement, clean energy, green transport, energy efficiency, delivery of care, resource recovery and circular economy, sustainable water practices, and governance structures.
2 health organisations
2035net zero aspiration
30+facilities carbon footprinted
Carbon footprinting: understanding health emissions and prioritising reductions
To understand each health district’s emissions, we undertook a robust carbon footprinting process across emissions scopes 1, 2 and 3, bringing together technical assessments and perspectives from health professionals.
In simple terms, the process can be likened to putting together a tax return. It involves accounting for spend and activity to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions an organisation emits directly, indirectly and through the goods and services consumed.
Combined, SCHN and NSLHD have over 30 health facilities, including hospitals, specialised care units and research facilities, each with unique and complex processes, organisational structures and procurement approaches. Our challenge was to create a clear and detailed carbon footprint incorporating each of these facilities.
Our multidisciplinary team of consultants, collaborated with a broad stakeholder group in each facility, from facilities management and procurement specialists to medical staff, to understand their operations and processes.
We held collaborative workshops and discussion groups to hear their perspectives, uncover challenges and understand data gaps. For example, some facilities did not have energy meters to understand how much energy each facility uses.
We then undertook a technical assessment, bringing in consultants to assess different aspects of each facility’s infrastructure, processes and procurement approach and providing rigorous and detailed calculations. For example, our transport planning consultants assessed patient and goods transport, while our energy consultants assessed energy usage and infrastructure.
The key outcomes of this work were to identify the top five to ten greenhouse gas emissions hotspots across scope 1, 2 and 3 and prioritise the focus areas for the roadmap. For example, we have identified that the top five emissions sources account for more than 66 per cent of the total emissions and that the electricity used by buildings was the largest energy source.
The collaboration with NSW Treasury and Arup has enabled us to quantify our Network’s carbon footprint and develop a net zero pathway. This pathway will guide the challenging but vital work we need to do in order to pave the way to a sustainable future for children and young people. ” Kathryn Asher Associate Director of Strategy Innovation & Planning, The Sydney Childrens Hospitals Network
Designing a net zero transition pathway for the health sector
With a clear understanding of each health organisations carbon footprint, we then designed pathways to achieve their net zero by 2035 for the emissions directly controlled (scope 1 and 2) and with an ambition to also influence the reduction of emissions which cannot be directly controlled (scope 3).
We designed the pathway based on two scenarios – one with low/moderate decarbonisation activity and one with strong decarbonisation activity. We then linked these pathways to interventions – opportunities health agencies can implement to decarbonise their operations – across building energy, travel, medical gases and metered dose inhalers, water and waste.
This work provides the foundation for our organisation to quantify and reduce our carbon footprint. The recommendations and pathway to net zero are challenging but practical and provide us with the blueprint to make a difference. ” Paul Klarenaar Executive Director, Northern Sydney Local Health District
Through discussions with health stakeholders, we prioritised the interventions for SCHN and NSLHD to achieve their net zero ambitions.
We then organised these interventions into three time periods: now, next and future. For example, we identified reducing air travel, electrification, reducing medical gas leaks and introducing on-site renewables as the most cost-effective and easy-to-implement solutions in the short term.
The roadmap will help the health organisations prioritise their decarbonisation efforts. We have identified the top five reduction initiatives for scope 1 and 2, and top ten for scope 3, which will deliver more than 90 per cent of the projected reductions by 2035.
These pathways provide SCHN and NSLHD with a clear vision for decarbonising their operations and reliable data to make informed decisions in the future.
Working together with our health clients we are helping build a deep understanding of their emissions, building carbon literacy, and generate action plans to empower action. ” Enrico Zara Associate Principal | Decarbonisation – Global, Australasia Leader