Carbon Footprinting for Healthcare

Course dates

Thurs 22nd October - register here

Course description

Climate change poses an existential threat to us. The NHS has acknowledged its contribution to climate change and aims to go carbon zero by 2050.  But how do we get there? Though we know the NHS’s carbon footprint overall, the carbon impact of service changes, quality improvement projects or procurement of new products, is not routinely measured. In order for the NHS to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, carbon needs to become an additional currency alongside money, understood by all working in the health system.

This course will help health professionals, quality improvement leads and medical students to become carbon literate. You will gain an understanding of what a carbon footprint is, how it can be used in the NHS’s endeavor to go net zero and how it is measured. You will also learn about different carbon footprinting studies in healthcare and what can be learned from them.

Course objectives:

  1. Recognise the interconnectedness of health, healthcare and climate change
  2. Understand what a carbon footprint is, why it is important to measure it, and how the two main carbon footprinting methodologies differ
  3. Identify the steps in estimating a carbon footprint of a quality improvement project or clinical pathway
  4. Find and use carbon conversion factors
  5. Recognise good practice in carbon footprinting studies in healthcare
  6. Practice carbon footprinting on a small/simple quality improvement project

Part I.  Self-study online

All course content is presented in the online module.  You will need about 5 hours to go through this round-up of theory and practice.  A discussion forum allows you to meet fellow participants and get to know each other's areas of interest and work.  At the end of the module, you are invited to sketch out a plan of work that you might want to undertake, in preparation for the workshop discussions.  All online content will be available to you until your Work-in-Progress session. 

Topics include: climate change and the environmental footprint of healthcare; what is sustainable healthcare?; carbon footprints and carbon hotspots in healthcare; methods of carbon footprinting; how to footprint a quality improvement project; case studies (the healthcare sector, a hospital area, a clinical pathway, a single intervention, a single instrument).

“I appreciated the opportunity to go through all the materials at my own pace, grouped into small manageable segments”  - Course participant, July 2020

Part II.  Live workshop online

This 4 hour virtual workshop consolidates your understanding of the course materials. Small group discussions with CSH experts and colleagues from around the world allow further exploration of topics that interest you and tips on how to translate your ideas into action.   The timetable includes pre-session technical assistance and networking, followed by a review of the self-study material review with Q&A.  In breakout groups you will then share your ideas for a sustainability intervention in your setting and make plans to address it, using the range of resources, tools and methods developed by CSH and partners.

“I got different viewpoints I hadn’t considered  - what worked, what didn't, who to speak to. Good size of group …time at both plenary and break out rooms for discussion and the networking, and interaction with the tutors was very valuable.”     - Course participant July 2020

Part III: Work-in-Progress

We offer the opportunity to meet again as a group a month or so after the Workshop for a two-hour session to discuss how projects have progressed. You are invited to present what you've done so far, answer questions and take feedback from colleagues and facilitators. 



Rob Lillywhite, Assistant Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Warwick University

Rob's principal interest is systems sustainability and his research programme focuses on agriculture/food and healthcare. His work uses environmental accounting techniques (life cycle assessment, footprinting, mass balances) to examine the trade-offs and impacts that occur within systems.

Dr Chantelle Rizan, CSH Sustainable Surgery Fellow

Chantelle is an ENT Research Fellow at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, completing a PhD at Brighton and Sussex Medical School using carbon footprinting and life cycle assessment methodologies to identify carbon hotspots in operating theatres. Her research is funded by Health Education England and the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSEng), where she is a current Surgical Research Fellow. Chantelle is a founding member of the RCSEng Sustainability in Surgery working group and the Environmental Sustainability Steering Group at her local NHS Trust.

Ingeborg Steinbach, Carbon Modelling Lead, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Ingeborg supports healthcare organisations and professionals to embed sustainability in day to day practice. Her focus at CSH is the analysis of the economic, environmental and social impact of healthcare organisations, services and ward-based quality improvement projects. She has been involved in the development of the global Eyefficiency tool, which looks at the productivity and financial and environmental impact of cataract surgery.

Rachel Stancliffe, Founder and Director, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Rachel has a Human Sciences degree (Oxford) and a Master’s degree in demography and epidemiology from the London School of Economics. She worked in public health initiatives in the UK, Georgia and Kazakhstan before helping to develop The Cochrane Library during the first decade of its life.

About CSH

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is a registered charity working since 2008 to help the NHS reduce its carbon footprint. Its is the world's foremost institution for sustainable healthcare research and practice. The team draws on knowledge and experience from public health, clinical practice, environmental consultancy, research and public policy to develop methodologies and metrics to transform models of care. CSH collaborates with partners inside and outside healthcare to engage professionals, patients and the wider community in understanding the connections between health and environment, and to reduce healthcare’s resource footprint. For more information about its work, see