Measuring your organisations carbon footprint

Measuring sustainability

Monitoring progress towards achieving a sustainable health and social care sector will not be possible without measurement.  Well-chosen indicators can help us understand sustainable development in the health and care system, compare progress and improve. They can also provide assurance that the level of ambition will be achieved by capturing the economic, environmental and social benefits.

The SDU have been working to further develop thinking aground the measurement of sustainability across the sector.  An Integrated Approach to Metrics module document focuses on what measures already exist and provides a direction for further development. The module is supported by implementation notes specific to different providers. Full details can be found on the metrics Areas of focus page.

Organisations and communities can refer to the implementation notes supporting the module to understand: where they are at the moment; the scale of the issue; where the priority areas for action might be; and what progress is being made. Sustainability measurement can be embedded into Sustainable Development Management Plans and Reporting.

At a National level, 2014 marked the first ever carbon footprint report for the whole health system (NHS, Public Health and Adult Social Care) was produced.  Research including the NHS England carbon footprint, modelling and MAC curves has quantified the scale of action required.

Monitoring of the NHS carbon footprint is currently achieved with the carbon maps based on building energy use, waste and water and the coverage of board approved SDMP.
 
Tools are already available for measuring organisation procurement carbon footprinting and including carbon calculations in service change decision making.

Earlier guidance on measuring, monitoring and reporting is available through the Technical Briefing from APHO, and provides further context.



Setting targets


Advice from the SDU and Carbon Trust suggests that in setting targets for carbon reduction, it is important organisations:  

•    consider all emissions sources
•    target the largest reductions which are also easiest to measure and influence.

The 10% reduction by 2015 target covers all emissions sources - buildings, waste, transport and procurement. To reduce emissions in line with this target action is needed in all areas of the footprint. To demonstrate progress, this action should be supported with stretching targets for the footprint that we can measure.

Previous experience from the Carbon Trust suggests that an absolute emissions reduction, for these areas, of between 20 and 25% over a 5 year period is readily achievable. Targets in this range are in line with the Climate Change Act targets and sufficient to set Trusts on a course to meet vital long term carbon reduction targets.



The carbon cost of healthcare

The 'Goods and Services - carbon hotspots' report below gives calculations for acute, mental health and community settings.

Full 40 page report identifies carbon hotspots in the supply chain comparing the carbon contribution of 18 categories of goods and services against six different NHS organisation types (acute, primary care and community services, mental health, ambulance services, specialist services and Strategic Health Authorities).

A summary version is also available.


  • Goods and Services Carbon Hotspots - Full Report
    Goods and Services Carbon Hotspots - Full Report

    Full 40 page report identifying carbon hotspots in the supply chain comparing the carbon contribution of 18 categories of goods and services against six different NHS organisation types (acute, primary care and community services, mental health, ambulance services, specialist services and Strategic Health Authorities).

    Download Document

  • Goods and Services Carbon Hotspots report - Summary
    Goods and Services Carbon Hotspots report - Summary

    6 page summary of a study that identifies carbon hotspots in the supply chain comparing the carbon contribution of 18 categories of goods and services against six different NHS organisation types (acute, primary care and community services, mental health, ambulance services, specialist services and Strategic Health Authorities).

    Download Document

The guide below  'The Carbon Cost of a Stay in Hospital' shows the original calculations for the amount of greenhouse gases associated with bed days and average inpatient admissions.


Defra reporting guidance

Guidance for measuring and reporting environmental impacts including carbon emissions provided by Defra, in partnership with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) measure and report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Sustainability Reporting in the annual report is aligned with this guidance. The guidance provides more detailed information on measurement of environmental impacts.