Keller, Regula; Stucki, Matthias; Abplanalp, Jan-Reto
The healthcare system with its ability to provide health services to society has received more attention due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, healthcare contributes to the environmental impact: Studies show that health care adds up to about 5% of the national carbon footprint of OECD countries. Hospitals play an important role in healthcare both in terms of costs as well as environmental impact, but to date bottom-up life cycle assessment of hospitals are rare. The ‘Green Hospital’ project analyzed hospitals from environmental, economic, and logistical perspectives as part of a multidisciplinary project of the Swiss Science Foundation in which three research groups contributed: the LCA Research Group at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Fraunhofer IML and the Institute for Economic Studies in Basel. The environmental impact of over thirty hospitals in Switzerland was assessed based on company-specific foreground data. Hotspots for the global warming potential were determined to be catering, building infrastructure, and energy provision. Based on this hotspot analysis, new processes that reduce the environmental impact were implemented: One hospital successfully changed a menu type from standard recipes to environmentally-friendly vegetarian dishes. The environmental impact per menu was reduced by fifty percent while even slightly more menus of this type were sold. To further promote the implementation of best practices in hospitals, a network exchange was organized where successfully implemented best practice measures were presented and discussed. The discussion highlighted the importance of the commitment of individuals and the relevance of network meetings in order to foster sustainability impact in healthcare. The ‘Green Hospital’ project shows that a strong collaboration of people in practice and science is key for the implementation of life cycle thinking into organisations.