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A sustainable solution to NSW Health's spiralling energy costs

The solution to NSW Health’s spiralling energy costs is more efficient, sustainable buildings, says the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

The Audit Office of New South Wales has released a report today which finds that NSW Health’s energy costs have increased by nearly 50 per cent over the last four years – from $81.8 million to $120.4 million.

The Audit Office expects energy costs to rise by another 50 per cent in the next five years.

The report also finds that NSW Health has reduced its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by two per cent over the last four years – but that this was not sufficient to meet its target of an 11 per cent reduction in emissions.

“Despite reducing energy use over the last four years, energy costs are by far the fastest growing expense for NSW Health.  More money spent on energy means less money available for primary care,” says the GBCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Robin Mellon.

“We have solid evidence that Green Star-rated buildings emit around one third of the greenhouse gas emissions and use one third of the electricity when compared with the average Australian building – whether that’s an office, a school or a hospital.

“While hospitals are notorious energy-guzzlers, green buildings are cheaper to operate because smart, sustainable design conserves energy and water.  They also enable better patient care, reduce the length of stay required in hospital, and decrease staff absences and turnover.

“A number of governments around Australia, most notably in South Australia, understand that Green Star-rated healthcare facilities are more efficient, cost-effective long-term assets that require significantly fewer taxpayers’ dollars to operate. 

“SA Health achieved Australia’s first Green Star rating for a hospital – the Flinders Medical Centre – and is currently seeking ratings for the New Royal Adelaide Hospital and the redevelopment of Lyell McEwin Hospital. 

“Despite the NSW Government investing $4.7 billion in hospital redevelopments in rural and regional areas, no NSW Health projects have been registered to achieve Green Star ratings.

“We are keen to work with NSW Health to consider how the Green Star – Healthcare v1 rating tool or soon-to-be-released Green Star – Performance rating tool can help reduce energy costs, meet the 11 per cent emissions reduction target and improve patient care. As a minimum, the GBCA would encourage the NSW Government to set benchmarks across a wide range of sustainability measures.

“The solution to NSW’s Health soaring energy costs is readily available, is being embraced by other governments and is backed by solid, credible evidence,” Mr Mellon concludes.  “It’s time that the people of New South Wales demand the efficient, sustainable healthcare facilities that they deserve.”