In an era where climate change is a pressing global concern, healthcare organisations like the NHS Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT) find themselves with a moral and practical obligation to lead by example in the race to Net Zero. The healthcare sector, while indispensable for the well-being of society, is also a significant contributor to carbon emissions, accounting for up to 5% of the UK’s carbon footprint. To address this issue head-on, the NHS Trust has set ambitious net-zero targets, with the aim of substantially reducing its carbon footprint.
Recognising that a well-informed and motivated workforce is paramount to achieving these goals, LTHT took the pioneering step of implementing Carbon Literacy (CL) Training for their Estates and Facilities team, with the assistance of WRM. Carbon Literacy Training is a comprehensive educational programme designed to equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and motivation needed to make meaningful contributions to reducing carbon emissions in their personal and professional lives.
Engaging Your Estates and Facilities Team with the Climate Change Agenda
The success of LTHT’s net-zero efforts hinges on effectively engaging its workforce with the climate change agenda. CL training was the first crucial step in this engagement process. By providing employees with a clear understanding of the science of climate change, the impact of carbon emissions, and practical steps they could take to reduce their own workplace carbon footprint, the Trust empowered its Estates and Facilities team to become active participants in the journey towards sustainability.
Key Achievements Enabled by CL Training
- Installation of Heat Pumps: Equipped with their newly acquired Carbon Literate status, the Estates and Facilities team played a pivotal role in the decision to install heat pumps across LTHT facilities. These pumps efficiently harness renewable energy sources, significantly reducing the Trust’s reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooling.
- Thermal Glazing: Recognising the importance of building energy efficiency, the team championed the installation of thermal glazing, aiding in heat retention during winters and reducing the need for excessive cooling during summers. This straightforward yet effective measure has led to substantial energy savings.
- Connecting to the Leeds Pipes: Understanding the benefits of district heating systems, LTHT strategically connected its facilities to the Leeds District Heating Network. This move not only reduced carbon emissions but also lowered energy costs.
- Equipment Upgrades: Through CL training, the Estates and Facilities team continue to identify outdated and inefficient equipment contributing to unnecessary energy consumption. They facilitated the replacement of such equipment with more energy-efficient alternatives, resulting in significant energy and long-term cost savings.
- Solar Panels Installation: Under the guidance of the Estates and Facilities team, the Trust invested in solar panel installations on its facilities, generating clean energy and reducing its reliance on non-renewable sources.
Leading the Charge Towards Sustainability
LTHT’s commitment to becoming one of the Greenest Trusts in the UK is not merely an ambitious goal but a tangible reality. Through Carbon Literacy Training, the Estates and Facilities team evolved into passionate advocates for sustainability, driving meaningful change within the organisation. They have not only reduced carbon emissions but have also inspired others within the Trust to embrace a greener way of working and living. WRM has since assisted LTHT with delivering training to theatres and procurement colleagues, and now has ambitious plans to roll out CL training across the entire Trust. LTHT was the first NHS Hospital Trust to officially become Carbon Literate.
A Valuable Lesson
LTHT’s journey towards achieving net-zero emissions in its Estates and Facilities department exemplifies the transformative power of Carbon Literacy Training. By actively engaging its workforce with the climate change agenda, LTHT empowered its employees to take ownership of sustainability initiatives, resulting in significant carbon reducing initiatives. As other organisations endeavour to deliver on their net-zero targets, they can draw valuable lessons from this example, understanding that the first step in achieving net-zero goals often involves educating and motivating the workforce to drive positive change within their sphere of influence.