Mainstreaming carbon management in healthcare systems: A bottom-up modeling approach

Adam S. Pollard, Timothy J. Taylor, Lora E. Fleming, Will Stahl-Timmins, Michael H. Depledge, Nicholas J. Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Increasing greenhouse gas emissions threaten human health and the environment. In response, healthcare managers face significant challenges in balancing operational decisions about patient care with carbon mitigation targets. We explore a bottom-up modeling framework to aid in the decision-making for both carbon and cost in healthcare, using data from a case study in Cornwall, UK. A model was built and run for secondary healthcare, specifically outpatient clinics, theater lists, beds, and diagnostic facilities. Five scenarios were tested: business-as-usual; service expansion; site closure; water temperature reduction; and theater optimization. The estimated emissions from secondary healthcare in Cornwall ran to 5787 T CO2eq with patient travel adding 2215 T CO2eq. Closing selected sites would have reduced this by 4% (261 T CO2eq), a reduction less than the resulting increases in patient transport emissions. Reducing hot water temperatures by 5 C and improving theater usage would lower the footprint by 0.7% (44 T CO 2eq) and 0.08% (5 T CO2eq), respectively. We consider bottom-up models important tools in the process of estimating and modeling the carbon footprint of healthcare. For the carbon reduction targets of the healthcare sector to be met, the use of these bottom-up models in decision making and forward planning is pivotal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-686
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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