The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust becomes the first NHS Hospital Trust to become officially Carbon Literate

28 October 2021

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has become the first NHS Hospital Trust to officially become Carbon Literate, allowing it to take an important step towards its goal of becoming one of the greenest NHS Trusts in the UK.

Since April this year the Trust’s Sustainability Team has been working closely with the Carbon Literacy Project in a new initiative to deliver the first Carbon Literacy training specifically focussed on healthcare and the NHS, to help its staff become Carbon Literate.

Libby Sutherland, Environmental Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Here at the Trust it’s our Director of Estates and Facilities Craige Richardson and his senior team who have led the way, becoming the first Estates and Facilities team in any NHS Hospital Trust in the UK to have their entire senior management team become officially Carbon Literate.

“The feedback from Craige and his team was very positive, and they found the training really useful and very insightful. During the training our staff learn about the impacts of climate change in healthcare, breaking them down by sector and learning what the big emissions are in the NHS as well as what targets are in place to tackle them.

“But the training isn’t just theoretical, staff also learn about practical, everyday ways in which we can go about meeting those targets. As well as being really worthwhile the training is also very flexible, and each department in the Trust is free to decide who and how many members of staff need to be trained.”

Craige Richardson, Director of Estates and Facilities at LTHT, said: “Carbon Literacy means being aware of the impact of everyday activities on the climate, and knowing what steps can be taken to reduce emissions, individually, in our teams, or as an organisation.

“The actions of individuals can and do make a difference. Learners who have completed a days’ worth of approved Carbon Literacy learning can be certified as Carbon Literate and we believe this training, this deepening of awareness, is a valuable tool in helping us to become a greener organisation.   

“In addition to giving learners a grounding in the science behind climate change the training also demonstrates how it’s also a health emergency and how we as a Trust contribute to it, along with its implications for us as an organisation.

“Since our first session a further 78 colleagues in Estates and Facilities have been trained and have officially become Carbon Literate and we’ve decided that in our department we’re aiming at having 30% of our staff trained, which will allow us to achieve silver accreditation.”  

Louise Harling, Healthcare & Blue Light Coordinator at The Carbon Literacy Project, said: “The hard work and insight from the sustainability team at LTHT has enabled us to develop and disseminate a sharable NHS training toolkit. Without Trusts like Leeds, and their enthusiasm and determination in delivering Carbon Literacy training, we wouldn’t be able to roll out these materials in such a timely manner. 

“LTHT really understands the importance of delivering Carbon Literacy training throughout its organisation to departments who have significant influence to drive the change we need to see a cultural shift within the NHS to meet its net-zero targets. 

“Craige’s involvement in the training has seen the whole Estates and Facilities management team become Carbon Literate in only a few months. It’s allowed them to understand why net-zero policy is so important and empower them to make climate-conscious decisions in their everyday working roles. This is the speed and determination for staff engagement that is needed across the NHS to meet net-zero targets.” 

LTHT Carbon Literacy Actions

The training is due to be rolled out to other departments in LTHT, starting with Theatres, later this year, and in recognition of its pioneering work in helping the Trust become a Carbon Literate organisation the Sustainability Team at LTHT has been nominated for the Business Green Leaders Employee Engagement Campaign of the Year award.

Nor is this the only recognition the Trust has had this year in relation to its push to become greener. For its work on an extensive LED lighting upgrade the Trust has been nominated in the category of Energy Efficiency Project of the Year.

LTHT has reduced the types and number of light fittings used across the Trust, making maintenance and the souring of spares much simpler. The installation of a new range of LED low voltage fittings has also reduced the amount of power needed to effectively light the organisation’s hospitals.

The Trust has invested over £700,000 in upgrading the lighting across the estate, saving an estimated £60,000 a year and reducing its carbon footprint by an estimated 100 tonnes per year. 

And in addition to that the Trust has also been nominated for the Net Zero Strategy of the Year award for its ‘Green Plan - Sustainable healthcare the Leeds way’.

The Green Plan is the central document for the Trust’s sustainability agenda and it includes its  objectives and an explanation of how they will be met. The Trust aims to reduce its total carbon emissions (through consumption of fuels, energy, and materials consumption), to reduce its use of plastics, to increase its recycling rates and to reduce its contribution to air pollution.

In order to meet its carbon reduction, air pollution and waste targets the Trust has developed a comprehensive Sustainable Action Plan, which will help the Trust to meet its strategic objectives and overall ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

This Sustainable Action Plan commits Leeds Teaching Hospitals to a range of actions that will help move the organisation forward on its pathway to net-zero. The Sustainability Team at the Trust will monitor, implement and manage the delivery of this action plan throughout the organisation.

Other recent achievements include:

  • Ensuring that best practice is integrated into every level of design within Building the Leeds Way, with buildings being designed to excellent BREEAM standard.
  • Utilising external funding from NHS England to install a meter monitoring system across the Estate to give increased data to manage energy.
  • Working closely with Leeds City Council, through the Leeds Climate Commission and the Top Ten Energy User Group, towards the goal of making Leeds a net-zero carbon city by 2030.
  • Reducing carbon emissions from anaesthetic gases by 52% in a SINGLE YEAR, by using Sevoflurane in favour of Desflurane - a saving of 4044 tonnes of CO2e has been made through this scheme, with the scope to reduce these emissions even further.
  • Using leak detection services, which not only produces a carbon saving of 60 tonnes per year but also a large annual cost saving of £329,587.

Free to use materials are available for all NHS trusts to run their own training sessionsfind out more here and if you would like to know how you can get Carbon Literacy training rolled out in your NHS Trust you can email