New EU energy guidelines to cost UK's NHS £70m a year

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There are warnings today that new energy efficiency guidelines outlined by the EU could end up costing the UKs National Health Service (NHS) approximat...

There are warnings today that new energy efficiency guidelines outlined by the EU could end up costing the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) approximately £70 million a year.

According to the NHS Confederation, the representative body of NHS organisations, the proposed rules are “too rigid and top-heavy.”

In an attempt to meet its target of reducing its principal energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020, the EU is asking public sector organisations to renovate three percent of its floor space every year.

The plan is to replace the old with the new and to ensure the revamped facilities meet the highest possible energy efficiency standards possible.

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The ‘Energy Efficiency Directive’ is expected to come into force in the next two years, if it is voted through by the full European Parliament in 2012.

However, the NHS Confederation’s European Office has expressed concerns about the timing of the new directive.

It comes at the same time as the NHS is trying to make £20 billion in savings over the next four years, something which the NHS Confederation says would have a major impact on the health service.

It is also arguing that the rules of the directive would limit the ways in which NHS organisations are able to implement energy efficiency measures in their buildings.

That’s because it focuses on floor space to help calculate energy reduction targets, rather than looking at buildings as a whole.

Commenting on the plans, the Director of the NHS Confederation’s European Office, Elisabetta Zanon, said: “The NHS is fully committed to improving its energy efficiency and has made great progress in recent years to become more sustainable and eco-friendly.

“As the NHS owns a vast and complex estate, we appreciate the need to modernise our buildings, and consume energy more efficiently.

“But these EU proposals are too rigid and top-heavy. They will create a real headache for organisations that are already trying to find sizeable savings,” she added.

“We really don't want to find ourselves in a scenario where we have to divert money away from patient care to pay for costly building renovations.

“We are currently working with EU decision-makers to achieve more flexibility in how the rules are implemented.

Zanon continued: “We need to make this directive about more than simply meeting arbitrary targets which impose additional costs on public services at a time when finances are already under real strain.

“It should allow public bodies to use feasible and proportionate measures to achieve overall reductions in their levels of energy consumption.”

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