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Leeds Trust the UK’s first to officially be ‘Carbon Literate’

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says it has become the UK's first NHS hospital Trust to officially become’ Carbon Literate’, allowing it to 'take an important step towards its goal of becoming one of the UK’s greenest NHS Trusts’.

Since April the Trust’s Sustainability Team has been working closely with the Carbon Literacy Project in a new initiative to deliver the first Carbon Literacy training specifically focussed on healthcare and the NHS, to help its staff become Carbon Literate. 

Environmental manager, Libby Sutherland, said: “It is our director of Estates and Facilities, Craige Richardson, and his senior team who have led the way, becoming the first Estates and Facilities team in any UK NHS hospital Trust to have their entire senior management team become officially Carbon Literate. The feedback from Craige and his team was very positive, and they found the training really useful and very insightful. During the training our staff learn about the impacts of climate change in healthcare, breaking them down by sector, and learning what the big emissions are in the NHS, as well as what targets are in place to tackle them.  However, the training isn’t just theoretical; staff also learn about practical, everyday ways in which we can go about meeting those targets. As well as being really worthwhile, the training is very flexible, and each department in the Trust is free to decide who and how many members of staff need to be trained.” 

Craige Richardson added: “Carbon Literacy means being aware of the impact of everyday activities on the climate, and knowing what steps can be taken to reduce emissions, individually, in our teams, or as an organisation. The actions of individuals can and do make a difference. Learners who have completed a day’s worth of approved Carbon Literacy learning can be certified as Carbon Literate, and we believe this training – this deepening of awareness – is a valuable tool in helping us become a greener organisation. In addition to giving leaners a grounding in the science behind climate change, the training demonstrates how it’s also a health emergency, and how we as a Trust contribute to it, along with its implications for us as an organisation.

“Since our first session, a further 78 Estates and Facilities colleagues have been trained and officially become Carbon Literate, and we’ve decided that in our department we’re aiming at having 30 per cent of our staff trained, which will allow us to achieve silver accreditation.”   

Louise Harling, Healthcare & Blue Light coordinator at The Carbon Literacy Project, said: “The hard work and insight from the Sustainability team at LTHT has enabled us to develop and disseminate a sharable NHS training toolkit. Without Trusts like Leeds, and their enthusiasm and determination, in delivering Carbon Literacy training, we wouldn’t be able to roll out these materials in such a timely manner.” 

The training is due to be rolled out to other departments at LTHT, starting with Theatres, later this year, and in recognition of its work in helping the Trust become a Carbon Literate-organisation, the Sustainability Team has been nominated for the Business Green Leaders Employee Engagement Campaign of the Year award. LTHT has reduced the types and number of light fittings used across the Trust, making maintenance and the souring of spares much simpler. The installation of a new range of LED low voltage fittings has also reduced the amount of power needed to effectively light the organisation’s hospitals. 


The Trust has invested over £700,000 in upgrading the lighting across its estate, saving an estimated £60,000 annually, and reducing its carbon footprint by an estimated 100 tonnes per year. It has also been nominated for the Net Zero Strategy of the Year award for its ‘Green Plan – Sustainable healthcare the Leeds way’. The Trust aims to reduce both  its total carbon emissions (through consumption of fuels, energy, and materials ), and its use of plastics, to increase its recycling rates, and to reduce its contribution to air pollution. 

Its Sustainable Action Plan is designed to enable it to meet its strategic objectives and ambition of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. 

Other recent achievements include:

  • Ensuring best practice is integrated into every level of design within ‘Building the Leeds Way’, with buildings designed to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standards.
  • Utilising external funding from NHS England to install a meter monitoring system across the estate to give increased data to manage energy.
  • Working closely with Leeds City Council, through the Leeds Climate Commission and the Top Ten Energy User Group, towards making Leeds a net-zero carbon city by 2030.
  • Reducing carbon emissions from anaesthetic gases by 52% in a single year, by using Sevoflurane in favour of Desflurane – with a saving of 4044 tonnes of CO2e made through this scheme, and scope to reduce these emissions even further.
  • Using leak detection services, which produce an annual carbon saving of 60 tonnes and a cost saving of £329,587.




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