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Earth Day - YAC champion sustainability at the New Children’s Hospital

Monday 22nd April, is Earth Day. Earth Day is a reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging us to come together and take action for a healthier planet and brighter future.

April 22, 2024


YAC Site visit

Youth Advisory Council on their recent visit to the new children's hospital

This is an important day for the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) in Children’s Health Ireland. The YAC is a group of young people (aged 14 -22) who feed into the design and delivery of services in the new children’s hospital, and who are particularly passionate about the environmental impacts of the new building.

The YAC Members commented:

““We, in YAC, are passionate about the environment and influencing change where we can. As part of our involvement in the design of the new hospital we requested that consideration be given to things such as having more screens or electronic notice boards rather than posters; virtual appointments, where clinically appropriate, to reduces carbon footprint; less food waste; using recycled material for things such as Arts and Crafts. “We are delighted that CHI has taken on these ideas and incorporated them into the new hospital. We hope that CHI will continue to look on their carbon footprint every year to see what ongoing changes can be made, as every small step towards a green campus makes a difference to our future.”

Here are 10 ways that sustainability is championed in the New Children’s Hospital:

  • The building itself is built to BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Mode) Certification. BREEAM is an assessment of the sustainability performance of building designs. It is also designed to meet the Building Energy Rating A3 standard.
  • The hospital will be transitioning from paper to digital from day one – the aim is no more notes on paper.
  • Gardens and courtyards help the building to breathe. There are 400 trees over 4 acres of outdoor areas, which provide natural ventilation and fresh air for patients. The 14 gardens and courtyards have a sensory planting theme and will be therapeutic spaces of respite. This includes the Rainbow Garden on the roof, which is the length of Croke Park.
  • The 'Theatre Green Team' is reducing the use of environmentally harmful anaesthetic gases, like desflurane and Nitrous Oxide. They will not switch on the nitrous pipeline to the new children’s hospital and instead use wall-mounted cylinders – a massive leap towards reducing nitrous consumption.
  • All inpatient bedrooms on the 4th, 5th & 6th floor have natural daylight and there are clever sensors that measures the amount of daylight and switch off or dim lights accordingly, maximising the availability of natural light and reducing energy consumption.
  • The walls and floors are designed to refract light, to brighten spaces naturally.
  • Online consultations in the new hospital will save people from travelling to appointments and reduce carbon emissions. Staff have many sustainable options to get to work meaning cleaner air around the hospital.
  • A new “What’s on the menu programme” will reduce food waste by giving patients food they like, at a time they can eat it.
  • “Zero waste to landfill” policy means that all waste in the new children’s hospital will find a new home, be reused, or recycled.

Paper waste will be reused and recycled. (For reference, 824 trees were saved in a year from Crumlin shredding in 2022)

Non-essential waste packaging will be removed prior to delivery.

All waste will be diverted from landfill and will be recycled, reused as fuel and used as WTE (Waste to Energy).

Polystyrene will be reused for things like rulers and trigonometry sets.

Any contractors who come to the hospital will leave with their waste.

  • Importantly for this year’s Earth Day theme “Planet vs. Plastics”:
  1. All catering consumables in CHI have already changed from single use plastics to Delph, cutlery and compostable where single use is still required.
  2. CHI is already trialling replacing single-use plastic aprons used by clinical staff with compostable versions (that’s tens of thousands of aprons).
  3. One huge step is replacing around 20,000 single-use sharps/spill-proof containers per year with reusable containers. Previous versions must be changed multiple times a day in some areas but the new system will see containers sterilised and reused up to 600 times while remaining safe for use.
  4. All Aramark concessions operating in CHI offer a discount if you bring your own Keep – Cup.
““The vision for Children’s Health Ireland is to provide a health service that provides the highest quality care to patients, without compromising planetary health. We already have great initiatives in place to reduce waste across our existing sites and look forward to moving to the new children’s hospital, which is built to the highest possible energy standard, and a great example of future-proof processes.”
Joe Ellis is Transformation Lead with Children’s Health Ireland.

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