Healthcare facilities will have to work harder on making sure they effectively bring down their additions to landfills. Image Credit: Pixabay

Healthcare facilities in the UAE significantly impact the environment, with their carbon footprint being a concern. According to Dubai Health Authority, healthcare facilities account for 4.6 per cent of the carbon footprint.

The studies have estimated that the carbon footprint of a typical healthcare facility ranges from 3,000-8,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year. The carbon footprint of a routine outpatient visit ranges from 5 kilogram to 15 kilogram of CO2 equivalent per visit. In comparison, the carbon footprint of a typical inpatient stay ranges from 200 kilogram to 500 kilogram CO2 equivalent per day of hospitalisation.

One of the ways that healthcare facilities can reduce their carbon footprint is by conserving natural resources such as water, electricity, and fuel. The Dubai Health Authority found that healthcare facilities in the emirate consume around 4.7 million litres of water per day. By implementing water conservation measures such as low-flow faucets and toilets, healthcare facilities can reduce consumption by up to 50 per cent. This can translate into significant savings in water bills, with some facilities reporting of up to 35 per cent.

Regarding electricity consumption, healthcare facilities in the UAE are estimated to consume around 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Using energy-efficient lighting and equipment, they can reduce such consumption by up to 30 per cent.

A check on fuel

Fuel consumption is another significant contributor to the carbon footprint raised by healthcare facilities. A Dubai Health Authority report estimates transportation accounts for 80 per cent of facilities’ fuel consumption. By implementing measures such as carpooling and using more fuel-efficient vehicles, fuel consumption can be cut by up to 25 per cent. This can translate into significant savings in fuel costs, with some facilities getting up to 15 per cent.

Healthcare facilities generate a significant amount of hazardous waste that requires special handling. Proper waste segregation and management practices, healthcare facilities can reduce the amount of waste in landfills, which can significantly impact greenhouse gas emissions. For example, by recycling, composting, and reducing packaging waste, such waste can be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare facilities is through the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Based on DEWA estimates, using solar panels can lead to cost savings of up to 25 per cent.

Green buildings

The Department of Health in Abu Dhabi (DoH) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) play a crucial role in promoting sustainability in healthcare facilities in the UAE. The DoH has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainability in healthcare facilities, including the implementation of a green building code and the establishment of a sustainability committee to oversee sustainability initiatives.

Similarly, the MoH has launched several initiatives to promote sustainability, including the development of a national strategy for sustainable healthcare and the implementation of sustainability guidelines for facilities.

SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Company), which is a significant healthcare provider in the UAE, has implemented several initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of its facilities, including energy-efficient lighting and equipment, use of renewable energy sources, and adoption of waste segregation and management practices.

The initiatives collectively undertaken are excellent examples for all healthcare facilities to follow and demonstrate the import of sustainability.