Helping the healthcare sector reach Net Zero at Lexica

The climate crisis is a health emergency & Lexica is supporting the healthcare sector in the push to Net Zero, says Lucy Symons-Jones, Director of Net Zero

All across the healthcare sector, new technologies are being used to decrease carbon emissions and bring Net Zero goals within reach. Although the global healthcare sector is only responsible for 5% of our planet’s carbon emissions, the impact of climate change on healthcare could be catastrophic. Unchecked, it will pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink and impact the supply chain of the food we eat.

Making renewable energy affordable for the masses and EVs more efficient will help to improve global health in the long-term, as will technologies that safeguard water conservation and wastewater treatment. Technologies that promote sustainable farming practices, such as precision agriculture and vertical farming, can reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture. Blockchain technology also has the potential to support Net Zero efforts by enabling transparent tracking and verification of carbon emissions as well as renewable energy generation. 

Considering the enormous reach of the healthcare sector, it is an excellent opportunity for new technologies to flex their sustainability muscles – and this is where Lexica comes in. 

Supporting the healthcare sector in the push to Net Zero

Lexica is a specialist health and life sciences consultancy of more than 100 experts – and it’s still growing. The company supports international health and life sciences organisations with the planning, delivery, and continuous improvement of their services to secure immediate and long-lasting results. Lucy Symons-Jones is the esteemed Net Zero Director at Lexica.

“We offer the full spectrum of healthcare planning from our team of experts, handpicked from the fields of architecture, clinical, finance, health services operational management, and informatics,” explains Symons-Jones. 

Lexica is also a founding member of the UK Healthcare Planning Academy, an initiative established to share knowledge and best practice across the field, to raise the professional profile of healthcare planning, and to encourage and develop talent in the sector.

With a professional background in public policy and external affairs, Symons-Jones has always been committed to advocating for energy policy reform, expanding worldwide access to energy and championing the development and implementation of green energy solutions.  

Under my role as Director of Net Zero at Lexica, I work to embed and integrate sustainability thinking across all Lexica services. I drive the department to meet the urgent political and social agenda and the push to net carbon zero,” she says. “Our Net Zero team creates ambitious yet practical and achievable sustainability programmes and strategies for our clients to deliver value to them, to society and to the environment. Our work is always robust, leading-edge and technically assured. 

“We also host three free-to-access frameworks that can accelerate the delivery of net-zero ambitions while delivering excellent service, quality and value. In running these frameworks, we actioned approximately £40m in clean tech transactions for completed projects in the last few years.”

The climate crisis is a health emergency

Lexica partnered with climate intelligence company Cervest to screen and analyse the climate exposure of critical infrastructure assets such as hospitals, medical clinics and other healthcare facilities across the UK. 

“Our team of consultants will use Cervest’s climate intelligence product EarthScan™ to accurately assess climate risk exposure, right down to the individual asset. We chose EarthScan because it provides a comprehensive view of asset-level climate risk, allowing us to look back to 1970 and ahead to 2100 and access insights into both acute and chronic risks – including flooding, heat stress, wildfire, precipitation, wind and drought – across multiple climate emissions scenarios. We will use these insights to baseline, monitor and forecast climate risk as well as develop strategic, operational and financial plans for our healthcare clients and their assets.”

Extreme weather has increased pressure on health services still grappling with COVID-19 and the various backlogs it amassed. The healthcare sector is at a high risk of climate-driven natural hazards that can have serious, long-lasting implications, including the immediate effects on staff wellbeing and numbers of patients, as Symons-Jones highlights.

“Health services will also have to grapple with a rise in mortality rates and poorer patient recovery from illness, in addition to medical staff struggling to work in overheated conditions or an increase in staff absenteeism due to illness, school closures or caring for relatives during extreme weather events. 

“The IPCC’s sixth assessment report showed that climate change will significantly increase ill health and premature deaths in the near- to long-term future.”

Extreme weather puts pressure on the infrastructure of health services

But it isn’t just the human side of healthcare that will suffer; the base infrastructure will also be impacted by severe weather.

The healthcare sector is at high risk of climate-driven natural hazards which can have serious impacts from flooded boiler rooms to leaky roofs. 

“The heatwaves of summer 2022 brought climate adaptation to the forefront of our minds. Many trusts were forced to cancel appointments due to IT systems failures and overheated AHUs and cooling systems.” 

“As it stands, Britain’s critical national infrastructure for providing healthcare is not built to withstand forecasted changes in climate. We can expect the increasing frequency and severity of risks like heatwaves and drought to lead to healthcare assets and infrastructure having to be retrofitted or even relocated.”

According to Symons-Jones, the healthcare industry has the opportunity to lead the rest of the world in becoming more resilient in the face of climate change.

“One of the most exciting opportunities is that the healthcare service, given its scale and size, can be a testing ground for the clean tech industries of the future.” 

Whether thinking about new ways of generating electricity or different ways of heating buildings, putting new technologies to work in the healthcare sector is a very exciting source of progress.

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