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VIEWPOINT DARRYL PITCHER – CEO, BETHSALEM CARE AND GREENBRIARS VILLAGE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA


Opportunities within healthcare engineering


IFHE President, Darryl Pitcher, believes that health estates engineers could have an important role in tackling healthcare’s significant carbon footprint – but unlocking investment in efficient systems will be crucial.


If the global healthcare sector was a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet, according to a new report by Health Care Without Harm.1


However, the health


estates sector has the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and improving sustainability. There is a great deal of innovation taking place – technology is coming to the fore and we need to


understand how this can be best implemented and integrated to offer value, deliver efficiencies and improve health outcomes. One of the biggest challenges we face


across the globe – from a healthcare engineering perspective – is the need to “invest money to save money”. Often, healthcare management ask us to deliver savings. Yet, when we state that we can deliver the desired savings with the right


level of investment, the response is that there is “no budget”. We cannot simply turn the lights off; but we can change the lighting to more efficient solutions. However investment is needed to do this. The process of updating and upgrading of assets allows the removal of inefficient systems from operation, but this happens far too slowly – often the short- sightedness of those responsible for financial governance in the healthcare system is a significant challenge.


Unlocking investment in efficient systems will be crucial. Darryl Pitcher


Darryl Pitcher is president of the International Federation of Hospital Engineering (IFHE) and CEO of Bethsalem Care and


Greenbriars Village in South Australia. Darryl has more than 30 years’ experience in hospital engineering in the public, private and aged care sectors. He is a board member and past president of the Institute of Hospital Engineering, Australia (IHEA). In his role on the IHEA board he oversees technology and


communications and is editor of Healthcare Facilities, the IHEA quarterly journal. Darryl’s passions include sustainability and


innovation to deliver efficient and improved services to improve health and wellbeing.


IFHE DIGEST 2020


Reducing healthcare’s carbon footprint All too often, the money stripped out of projects is the environmental and sustainability budget. While architects focus on the aesthetics of the building, the process often overlooks the cost of operating the hospital once it has been built. In doing so, this reduces the opportunity for investment in more efficient solutions. This scenario is now starting to change, but it is still very slow in some parts of the world. Nevertheless, the climate change agenda is receiving increasing attention in the healthcare sector, leading to greater scrutiny of hospitals’ sustainability. In fact, the first-ever calculation of healthcare’s global climate footprint has been estimated to be equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions (2 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent). Hospitals, health systems and their supply chains in the United States, China, and collectively the countries of the European Union, comprise more than half of healthcare’s worldwide emissions. While vastly differing in scale, every nation’s health sector directly and indirectly releases greenhouse gases as it delivers care.1 According to the Healthcare Without


Harm report, fossil fuel combustion makes up well over half of healthcare’s global climate footprint. Overall, healthcare emissions are equivalent to the annual greenhouse gases produced by 514 coal- fired power plants. The report, which was


15


©ipopba/stock.adobe.com


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