As a result of a campaign led by the NHS European Office, the health service will now be exempt from ‘rigid and top heavy’ requirements for public bodies to renovate three per cent of their buildings’ floor space to high energy efficiency levels every year.
£70 million a year
The NHS European Office calculated that if applied to the health service, the rule would have cost in the region of £70 million a year.
The organisation argued this would have diverted essential financial resources away from patient care at a critical time when the NHS is already facing the challenge of saving an unprecedented amount of £20 billion while managing a flat budget.
Following detailed negotiations between the European Union institutions, the European Parliament formally voted today (11 September) to allow for flexibility within the rules, meaning NHS organisations will be encouraged to make energy savings where possible when running their estates and buying goods and services, but will avoid having to meet onerous arbitrary targets.
Promoting energy efficiency, avoiding over-regulation
The new rules now strike a balance between promoting energy efficiency and avoiding over-regulation. They will enable NHS organisations to focus on alternative ‘green’ initiatives of higher priority rather than ticking boxes to meet arbitrary energy efficiency targets.
Fully committed NHS
Elisabetta Zanon, director of the NHS European Office, 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.
“We appreciate the need to modernise our buildings, and to use energy more efficiently."
She added: “However, the reality is that the NHS has a vast and often ageing estate. In its original form the proposal was too rigid and top heavy. It would have been especially damaging for acute services, with significant costs incurred to meet high-energy efficient specifications. It was a blunt tool that would have created a real headache for organisations already trying to find significant savings.
“We are delighted that, following our work with decision-makers in Brussels, a more flexible approach has been achieved to allow NHS trusts to reduce their energy consumption”.
Find out more about the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.