ISO standards improve sustainability within the NHS

Published on Monday, 15 October 2012 10:58
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

International standards can help NHS organisations take a lead with sustainability and achieve their 2050 targets in these times of austerity

The NHS has been working closely with partners to meet the Government's target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in 2050.  With the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and support from the Department of Health's Sustainable Development Strategy, the aim is to provide not only the best healthcare system possible, but also the most sustainable.

With the NHS being one of the largest employers in the world, reducing carbon emissions by 80% can have a significant impact on mitigating the effects of climate change.

The NHS accounts for approximately 3% of the UK's carbon footprint and, with almost one quarter of that attributed to the public sector, it is easy to see the significance of this agenda.  Sustainability itself can act as a point of engagement, an enabler even, delivering valuable savings by ensuring that wasteful and environmentally damaging activities are reduced and the efficiency of services is increased.

But is there sufficient desire in the NHS to make the changes needed to reduce its carbon footprint?  The evidence suggests so.  In 2008, 95% of NHS organisations responding to a draft consultation supported the NHS being at the forefront of reducing carbon emissions.

Having the motivation to make shifts in work practice is half the battle.  In order to capture and utilise this commitment and willingness, effective management systems and processes should be put in place.

One way of ensuring the best systems and procedures are place is through ISO Certification. When considering reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact, there are two key ISO standards that primarily apply:

  • ISO 50001 is the International Standard for Energy Management. It enables organisations to establish a baseline for energy performance (including energy consumption), whilst also establishing challenging objectives and targets for improvement.
  • ISO 14001 is the International standard for Environmental Management.   It is used by organisations to introduce objectives and targets to minimise their environmental impact and consequently reduce costs.

ISO 50001 and ISO 14001 each deliver a management system which will enable your organisation to understand and reduce its environmental impact.  ISO 14001 takes into account all aspects of an organisation which have an effect on the environment, these activities including the use of natural resources, energy consumption and the management of waste.  ISO 50001 provides a greater focus on energy performance, efficiency, use and design, covering facilities and production lines as well as the specification of energy-related procurement requirements.

Even though both Standards will assist you to monitor, manage and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, they also come with many other benefits.  These can be utilised and combined with such other Standards as ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 31000 (Risk Management) and ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management) to ensure that NHS organisations can become more robust, recovering quickly from even the most unexpected of disruptions, preparing for future changes in energy supply and reducing year-on-year the level of purchase of carbon allowances by working towards the objective to become fully sustainable.

Source: ©QMS

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