SAVING TIME: Volunteer driver Jim Bratty in the electric Shuttle Bug vehicle which is among many measures the health board has taken to reduce its carbon footprint.

One of Northland’s biggest organisations reduced its carbon footprint by 7 per cent last year.

The 2016-2017 reduction means Northland District Health Board is well on its way to achieving its targeted cut of greenhouse gas emission by 15 per cent by 2025.

Energy audits were performed on the board’s hospitals at the end of last year and 2016 to create a plan around electricity consumption.

While the footprint shrank for gas, diesel and other greenhouse emissions, two areas of sustainable resource consumption grew — waste going into landfills and electricity use.
A reduction in electricity emissions was largely due to a greener national grid but actual electricity consumption increased by 3 per cent, consistent with the trend of the past couple of years.

The largest decrease was in diesel use, after Dargaville Hospital’s water and air heating boilers were switched to an electric system, saving 51,000 litres of diesel in a year.

In the transport category, the biggest reduction was a 7 per cent decrease in National Travel Assistance kilometre claims by patients who needed to travel, mostly to Auckland Hospital.

This saved 226,000km worth of travel by patients, due to more treatment and services being available in Northland.

A 3 per cent decrease in use of the board’s staff fleet fuels saved almost 20,000 litres. Six electric vehicles, including the patient shuttle at Whangarei Hospital, have been added to the fleet.

One area where the health board did not make the cut was an increase of 7 per cent, or 53 tonnes, going into landfill. Construction waste from the Bay of Islands Hospital redevelopment works was largely responsible for this number.

Recycling programmes for medical products like IV bags, oxygen masks, tubing and anaesthetic bottles are expected to make a difference in next year’s audit.

The Carbon Footprint and Year Overview 2016-17, as well as Northland DHB’s Sustainability Action Plan 2015-16, can be accessed at

Source: Northern Advocate

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