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Sustainability news and events

Hospitals switch off to tackle climate emergency

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University Hospital Galway was named winner of ‘The BIG Switch Off’ competition at an awards ceremony in Dublin, on the 22nd January. ‘The BIG Switch Off’ is run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) in collaboration with HSE Estates and is part of the Optimising Power at Work staff energy awareness campaign.

Last year’s winners, Regional Hospital Mullingar was named runner up, while Our Lady’s Hospital Navan, University Hospital Waterford and Cavan General Hospital were highly commended. Points were awarded based on the percentage of energy saved by hospitals, as well as for the number of engagement activities they participated in.

Eight hospitals nationwide took part in this year’s competition, demonstrating the positive impact individual actions can have in reducing the carbon footprint of the health sector. Over a period of just three days, the hospitals saved enough electricity to power an average operating theatre for 184 days and more than 2,000 hospital staff signed a pledge to make an extra effort to switch off non-essential equipment, making a positive contribution in preventing wasted energy which contributes to the ongoing climate emergency.

Health Sector Climate Action Seminar

HSCA2019.The Health Sector Climate Action Seminar was held on the 4th December in Athlone Institute of Technology. The theme of this year’s seminar was Beyond 2020: The Pathway for Change and speakers addressed the latest challenges and opportunities for the Health Service in relation to Climate Action.

There was a fantastic interest in the seminar from staff across the organisation, which was important as "to have a sustainable environment, it's not just about engineering, it's about people and people changing their actions", as stated by the Head of HSE Estates and event chair Jim Curran in his opening address.

In session 1 Dr Ina Kelly, HSE Consultant in Public Health, Dr Colette Bonner, Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health and Eoin McLoughlin, Assistant Principal in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment explored the impact of climate change on health, along with outlining National Climate Adaption and Mitigation plans.

Session 2, which was chaired by Peter Smyth, Assistant National Director in HSE Estates, focussed on improving energy efficiency the healthcare estate and speakers outlined how they are reducing energy use through design, planning and the newly established health sector Energy Bureaus.

The afternoon session was chaired by Jim Murphy, National Lead in the HSE’s National Health Sustainability Office. This session focussed on the wider sustainability agenda and included speakers on water conservation and reducing the use of single use catering plastics. The session also explored the importance of embedding sustainability in the organisation and the synergies that exist between the organisations sustainability goals and other health sector programmes such as Healthy Ireland, a government-led initiative aimed at improving the health and wellbeing and the HBS Operational Excellence Lean Programme.

There was also a range of exhibitors at the seminar giving useful advice and guidance to attendees on how they can improve sustainability in their workplace. Attendees also had the opportunity to calculate their carbon footprint and were invited to make a pledge to change one thing to improve sustainability at work or home.

Health Sector Climate Action seminar brochure (PDF, 1.8MB, 13 pages)