As part of NHS Sustainability Day of Action (4 June), we spoke to Lorcan Woods, Chief Financial Officer and sustainability lead at King’s, on the key successes over the past year from our green plan: Sustainable Healthcare for All.
Lorcan, can you tell us about the green plan at King’s?
Yes, of course. The plan is split into three main themes: travel, energy and people. Over the last 12 months, despite the challenges we have faced with the pandemic, I am proud to say that we have made progress in all three of these areas.
What has the Trust achieved with regard to travel?
We’ve made a number of gains in our travel plan. Firstly, in addition to installing additional secure bicycle storage at our hospitals, we’ve also worked with local partners to improve cycle storage at Denmark Hill station. There are now an extra 81 bike storage spaces at the station for staff and patients who cycle to King’s College Hospital.
At the Trust we also have a number of vehicles, which we are now monitoring for electric vehicle (EV) suitability. The fleets used by the Trust and King's Facility Management – our supplier of healthcare support services – were found to be suitable to switch to an EV alternative. In the coming year, several EV charging points will be installed at our sites.
What has the Trust achieved with regard to energy?
As of 1 April 2021, we switched to purchasing 100% renewable energy, which is a significant step forward.
Last financial year (2020/21), King’s invested in LED lighting in some areas across the Trust, generating huge savings of and 140 tonnes of CO2e. To continue this work we have been awarded grant funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. This will enable us to deliver an LED lighting project and low carbon heating at King's. Both projects are currently anticipated to be completed before the end of 2021, saving around 400 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
What has the Trust achieved with regard to people?
The Trust’s Green Champions Network has expanded and is now made up of over 200 staff representatives. We have established a Sustainability Group with 25 members, which engages leadership across the Trust whilst providing further oversight and strategic guidance to deliver our sustainability ambitions.
Last month, I was one of 60 members of staff to have taken part in the ‘No Meat May’ campaign to help promote the benefits of a sustainable diet. We switched to a plant-based diet for 31 days to improve our health and help the planet. I can’t speak on behalf of the whole group, but I will be taking forward a number of the changes made to my diet. And as a committed cyclist, I ride 18 miles a day in rain and shine - sadly, until very recently, it was too much rain!
To highlight the importance we are placing on sustainability to new employees, the Trust will be introducing information on our plan at corporate induction.
We know this is just the beginning of a long journey, and there is still some way to go, but I feel we are heading in the right direction.