Well-being is linked to environmental health, and we recognise our responsibility to person-centred and planetary healthcare. We also know that our actions can adversely impact the environment for generations. The NOHC Green Energy Committee embraces greener thinking, proactively exploring ways to lessen our environmental impact.
We are improving our environmental credentials through infrastructural, operational and behavioural changes, creating a health-enhancing community for patients and staff. Our projects include:
Improving hospital infrastructure
Upgrading the heating system and introducing greater controls for reduced fuel consumption
Improving lighting design plans, efficiency and controls
Reducing heat loss
Enhancing operational sutainability
Improving waste management
Embracing sustainable procurement practices
Optimising furniture and product lifespan
Uniting staff in efforts to reduce our carbon footprint
Inspiring environmentally conscious behaviours
Encouraging waste segregation
Ensuring water and power conservation
SUCCESS TO DATE
We set goals for every project undertaken, tracking performance to measure success, and we’re delighted to report:
A 75kWh energy-saving and €11,500 costs savings in a calendar year.
A 3.6% reduction in carbon emissions, 11% reduction in natural gas usage and €11,000 cost savings in just 7 months
We are committed to improving the integrity of our buildings, reducing the damaging effects of practices, and implementing positive changes for a better world. In the future, we will embrace sustainable energy sources, improve campus biodiversity and ensure environmental sustainability is central to operational activity and future development at NOHC.
We wish to thank the HSE Energy Bureau and SEAI Energy for their expert advice, education and support.
The NOHC Green Energy Committee and staff at NOHC were delighted to welcome our new residents, Irish Native Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera Mellifera, to the campus in April 2022.
Initially, we introduced two half hives. As the weather improves and flowering plants are aplenty, we expect the bee population to thrive, and the hives will soon reach full capacity of between 50,000 to 80,000 bees.
Caring for our Bees:
We’ll be making weekly visits to check the hive’s health to ensure:
there is brood (eggs and larvae); this shows your Queen is present and laying
sufficient stores (honey and pollen) and enough food in the area for the bee’s
there is a good balance between insects and bees – varroa mite, lice like insects live on the bee and, if out of control, can severely damage the hive
the bees have enough room; otherwise they will swarm
there are no other threats to the bees
From September onwards, hive visits are less frequent, and the hive is not opened. From time to time, we’ll “heft” the hive by lifting it a centimetre to see if the bees have enough food stores to last through the Winter. Around New Year we may open the hive and feed the bees fondant (like soft icing sugar) by placing it directly over where they are clustering.
Harvesting the Honey
From August to September, Harvesting takes place depending on the weather and weather forecast. We must make sure Bees have a chance to replenish or build enough stores to get them through the Winter.
The Less than Glamourous Life of a Queen
The Queen is confined to the brood box, which is usually on the first tier of the hive. When a super (an upper storey hive box placed over the brood box) is introduced for the collection of honey, a Queen excluder is fitted between the brood box and the super to prevent the Queen from entering the super to lay eggs. The Queen only leaves the hive once and that is when she is a virgin Queen. She leaves to mate and when she returns her function is to lay eggs and release pheromones to keep the worker bees coming back to her. Some beekeepers clip one wing off the Queen to stop her from flying; however, this does not prevent her from getting lost outside the hive.
You can usually tell on a weekly visit if the Queen is preparing to leave the hive. For example, there may be Queen cells ready to hatch, or there may be a second Queen in the hive; and action needs to be taken to split the hive or stop the migration by removing one of the Queens.
5 Interesting facts about bees:
Bees have five eyes
They fly at a speed of 20mph
Female bees in the hive are called worker bees; male bees are called drones
It takes nectar from 2 million flowers, makes one pot of honey
A Queen bee lays up to 2,500 eggs a day and can live for up to 5 years
5 Interesting facts about honey:
Honey is 80% sugar and 20% water and has anti-bacterial and anti-septic benefits that are so effective; a peer-reviewed, published paper demonstrates that honey is effective against MRSA – or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Honey is not considered safe for babies because of the risk of infant botulism. It is also not suitable for people with diabetes.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre honey facts relates to the Ancient Egyptians. There are records from 1550 BC, referring to honey that women applied to linen to prevent pregnancy.
Rameses III, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, offered a river god a honey sacrifice. As a result, 30,000 lbs of honey were dumped into the river Nile.
Many people swear that a teaspoon of local honey each day desensitises you to pollen and helps alleviate hay fever symptoms. Sadly, there is no scientific evidence to support this. In fact, bees don’t pollinate grass and trees, and the pollen in honey is the heavy, flower-based pollen that doesn’t cause hay fever.
As part of our commitment to becoming a ‘greener’ campus, the Green Energy Committee (GEC) has developed a robust Sustainability Programme aligned with the Hospital’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2025. This programme benefits from the input and engagement of staff members, student bodies, patients and external stakeholders. This is a living, breathing document that will adapt to reflect new ideas, beliefs and practices towards a more sustainable campus.
Over the next three years, we intend to focus on six strategic priorities:
Litter and Waste Management
Education/Promotion of Sustainability Agenda
Transport & Travel
The success of this programme relies on access to grant funding for infrastructural upgrades and the support and cooperation of staff, patients and visitors at the Hospital.
Heatherfield House at Cappagh was built in 1847. Since then, additional structures and annexes have been introduced in response to the growing service demand, and much of the Hospital’s infrastructure, heating and electrical systems require upgrades.
We aim to improve energy conservation and efficiency by:
Engaging “Energy Champions” hospital-wide to promote responsible energy usage and identify improvements.
Replacing inefficient glazing with energy-efficient alternatives to improve patient comfort and reduce energy consumption.
Upgrading outdated PCs to energy-efficient PC technologies, lowering energy usage and costs.
Rolling out a Managed Print Service, conserving electricity and minimising paper waste.
Developing a campus solar farm so NOHC can generate its own power.
Collating Data for installing a heat pump in St Paul’s Ward, ensuring articulated needs are backed by scientific data demonstrating the business and environmental case for upgrades.
Introducing natural gas across the campus to benefit from economies of scale.
We are implementing electricity metering to gain a better understanding of energy usage and the behaviours behind costs.
Healthcare facilities are notorious for water usage, and we would like to explore ways to save and reuse water on campus and harvest rainwater. We also need to examine the efficacy of our aged plumbing infrastructure.
We will improve water conservation and source protection by:
Installing a water meter system to learn about our behaviour and how we might modify these to conserve water.
Ensuring the early detection and repair of water leaks
Exploring water recycling from the CDU reverse osmosis units
In recent years, we’ve introduced trinity bins around the Hospital, encouraging responsible waste disposal through awareness campaigns. We’ll build on this platform, embedding new behaviours and exploring new possibilities to lessen our environmental impact.
We are committed to preventing, reducing, reusing, recycling and minimising the litter and waste the Hospital produces. We will ensure this by:
Introducing GEC keep cups
Introducing disposable cup charges
Rolling out 100% recycled paper and envelopes
Educating staff on paper usage and reduction
Digitalising patient records and information leaflets
Installing external litter bins
Improving bin frequency on campus
Encouraging responsible waste segregation and disposal
Education and awareness programmes are integral to sustainability. We will relentlessly espouse sustainability in healthcare, creating a culture with the patient and planetary health at its core.
We will foster a culture change by ensuring all staff, patients, and visitors are aware of the Hospital’s sustainability issues and improvement agenda by:
Increasing awareness of energy and water conservation issues.
Promoting NOHC’s Sustainability Programme via education and information sessions
Installing a GEC notice board in a prominent area of the Hospital
Updating and maintaining the Staff App, website and social channels with relevant content
Including Sustainability/Green agenda on all Hospital team meeting agendas
In recent years, we’ve addressed food waste at the Hospital, developing lean zero waste menus for staff and patients. We will now focus on the seasonality and environmental impact of the produce we purchase, making decisions to shop closer to home and eliminate or reduce ingredients harmful to the environment.
We intend to reduce the Hospital catering service’s carbon footprint by:
Purchasing new hot foot trollies, offering greater energy efficiency and ensuring hot meals for patients.
Re-engineering the food menus to include healthier food options, including fruit and vegetables
Including 100% seasonal sourcing for all fruit and vegetable menus (farm to fork)
Introducing 100% seasonal sourcing for all ingredients
Reducing beef options by 50%
Introducing daily plant-based/vegan options
Many of our staff took to their cars during the pandemic, avoiding carpooling and public transport. We’re embarking on a reconditioning programme, encouraging staff to re-think their route to and from work, in a bid to remove excess cars from the commute. We’re promoting carpooling, public transport, cycling and walking for the benefit of the person and the environment.
Increasing Activity and Sustainable methods of Travel in the NOHC Community
Encouraging more staff to cycle to work by introducing a 40-bay bicycle shelter
Encouraging more staff to participate in the Bike-to-work scheme
Hosting annual Marchathon Event
Hosting annual Walktober Event
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