New Zealand’s first carbon zero hospital unveiled

Forté Hospital in Christchurch has been named New Zealand’s first Toitū carbon zero certified hospital.

Forté Hospital operates out of Forté Health, a health precinct built-in 2013 in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The hospital, which operates out of one of New Zealand’s most environmentally-friendly buildings, has been certified carbon zero by Toitū Envirocare.

“Sustainability has been part of our kaupapa since the idea of Forté Health was born. We wanted to do things differently and show that you didn’t have to choose between looking after people and looking after your planet – you can do both,” says Forté Health Chairman David Barker.

While Forté Hospital is the first hospital in Australasia to achieve a four-star green certification through the New Zealand Green Building Council, to achieve Toitū carbon zero certification, sustainability had to be taken to an operational level.

“We cast a sustainability lens over all aspects of what we do and how we do it – no stone was left unturned. While reviewing all internal processes we also engaged with our staff, contractors and suppliers and asked the question – can we do this in a way that’s more sustainable for our people and our planet. And we’ve found in many instances, the answer was yes,” says Forté Health CEO Rachel Hillyer.

Forté Sterile Services Team Leader Julia Edwards with specialist reusable crates for instrument sterilisation.

Major sustainability initiatives implemented at Forté Hospital include:

  • Better segregation of waste resulting in a 47 per cent reduction in the amount of medical hazardous waste requiring emission-producing heat treatment (2016 – 2021).
  • Reducing waste to landfill by 1.6 tonnes from 2019 to 2020.
  • Reducing electricity usage by 12 per cent from 2019 to 2021 
  • Recycling staff uniforms into bags for patient belongings or donating them to Pacific Island hospitals, thanks to a partnership with Rotary Worldwide.
  • Installation of a new VIE liquid oxygen tank resulting in an approximately 99 per cent reduction in CO2emissions from truck deliveries.
  • Removed single-use food packaging for patient meals, saving around 1,200 single-use containers going to landfill each year.
  • Replaced medicine trays with compostable alternatives.

Forté’s future sustainability goals include further reducing its carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 10 per cent over the next five years.

A 2019 report by global organisations Arup and Health Care Without Harm found healthcare is responsible for 4.4 per cent of the world’s global net emissions – meaning if healthcare were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter on the planet.

In New Zealand, the wider health sector is striving to reduce emissions, with the Carbon Neutral Government Programme including an expectation that the public sector, including District Health Boards, be carbon neutral by 2025.

“There is no doubt Forté is leading the industry in terms of environmental sustainability. Their environmental journey is one that is embedded throughout the entire organisation, with high levels of staff engagement and a whole-of-organisation investment in the environmental targets and objectives they have set themselves,” says Andrew Mackenzie, Senior Technical Account Manager at Toitū Envirocare.

As part of becoming Toitū carbon zero certified, Forté Health will be offsetting its carbon footprint by planting trees at Spray Point Station in South Marlborough, at Puhi Peaks Station and Nature Reserve in Kaikōura and at the Hinewai Reserve, Banks Peninsula.

“A core part of our ethos was to ensure our sustainability journey impacted positively on our local environment, and we’re delighted to be supporting these South Island organisations to preserve and enhance our indigenous biodiversity,” says Hillyer.

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