Building Energy Use in NSW Public Hospitals

Hospital energy costs need more attention

NSW Health has reduced its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by two per cent over the last four years. It is pleasing that annual emissions are now 15,000 tonnes less than they were four years ago. However, this was not sufficient to meet its target of an 11 per cent drop in emissions. 

Despite a reduction in energy use, energy cost in NSW Health has increased by nearly 50 per cent over the last four years to $120 million per annum. This is expected to increase by another 50 per cent in the next five years.

“Energy is by far the fastest growing cost for NSW Health” said Mr Achterstraat. “More attention is needed to contain energy use and cost. NSW Health cannot continue to do things the same way”, he added.

Energy efficiency management practices and governance arrangements can be improved. 
“While there are targets for emissions there are no targets for energy efficiency and cost”, said Mr Achterstraat. 

“There are significant variations in energy efficiency across health districts and hospitals. The scale of the variations suggests there is scope for significant improvement”, said Mr Achterstraat. 

There is no investment strategy for energy efficiency in NSW Health. There are loans available from NSW Treasury specifically for energy efficiency initiatives, but NSW Health has not taken full advantage of them.  Energy-saving initiatives using the loans have so far been small-scale. 

Three things need to change.

  1. Better practice needs to be identified and adopted across the health system.  “There are real opportunities for hospitals and Local Health Districts to learn from those hospitals that are the most energy efficient” said Mr Achterstraat. “These include switching off lights when they are not needed, tweaking air conditioning temperatures and installing energy efficient lighting.”

  2. A coordinated approach is needed to identify potential energy savings and to plan energy investments. This includes bundling projects, so more energy efficient plant and equipment can be purchased through stronger buying power.  

  3. It needs to be easier for Local Health Districts to invest in energy efficiency. Treasury loans should be simpler to get, and more flexible to use and repay. This would encourage larger projects with long term savings potential. 

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email: