C.20 Climate change and greenhouse gas reduction policies and programs

The ACT Health Sustainability Strategy was developed in response to the ACT Government’s Climate Change Strategy 2007–2025: Weathering the Change (2007), the Canberra Plan (2008) and the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010. These documents and legislation outline the government’s commitment to sustainability and detail the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of zero net emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2060.

Due to the nature and scale of its operations, the Health Directorate is a major consumer of energy and water, and generates a significant amount of waste.

The Health Infrastructure Program­—a major hospital redevelopment initiative—provides an important opportunity to create ecologically sustainable health facilities. The challenge is to build intelligently, so that buildings use a minimum of non-renewable energy, produce a minimum of pollution and waste, and cost a minimum of energy dollars, while increasing the health, safety, and welfare of everyone who works in, visits or resides in them. These are the key components of sustainable design. New health facilities have incorporated many environmentally sustainable design principles such as:

  • energy efficient lighting systems, including LEDs
  • clean energy options
  • cyclist facilities for sustainable transport.

ACT Health will strive to achieve higher levels of environmental performance in the future as we work toward meeting the Government’s greenhouse gas emission and water consumption targets.

Sustainability in healthcare facilities need not compromise functionality, nor significantly increase the cost of designing and operating buildings. Well-designed sustainability initiatives can provide the following benefits:

  • significant reduction in operating costs
  • improved quality of the internal environment for staff and visitors
  • future proofing of buildings so that they are able to adapt to future requirements
  • informed design choices, based on whole-of-life considerations
  • reduction in carbon emissions.

ACT Health’s Sustainability Strategy (2010) outlines the current environmental challenges presented by the increasing demands in health care in the ACT and provides a vision for achieving a sustainable future.

Through delivery of the Sustainability Action Plan, ACT Health will progressively reduce its carbon footprint by embedding sustainability in all elements of its core business throuh the following business functions: Models of Care; Buildings and Infrastructure; The Digital Environment; Transport; Regulatory Environment; Workforce and Partnerships with External Services.

To date, ACT Health has completed 93 per cent of the short-term actions (59 short-term actions in total) towards a sustainable future, including:

  • development of the Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Building and Infrastructure Projects under the Health Infrastructure Program
  • improvement of access to information to consumers through the ACT Health consumer portal
  • development of models of care in conjunction with consumers and staff, taking into account evidence-based design, supportive leadership and teams, and optimising patient/staff experiences
  • establishment of new processes in community health centres that enable strong links with their local communities, improving communictaion flows and information and adapting services to local needs
  • establishment of secure bicycle sheds, shower/change room facilities into current and future builds to support healthy transport options.