Carbon reduction: Students help Lancaster hospitals reduce emissions from heating and lighting

SIXTH form students from Lancaster have been supporting the NHS in its battle to cut down on carbon emissions by helping to find more economical and environmentally-friendly ways of heating and lighting hospitals.

Young people from Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy have taken part in an eight-month project to find alternative, sustainable ways of providing lighting at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and heating at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH).

The lighting team was set the challenge of investigating a new solution for the wards and corridors that would be more cost effective, efficient and environmentally friendly, as well as easier to maintain. They also looked at how lighting contributes to the patient experience. During the project they interviewed different suppliers, before testing products in the school laboratory and carrying out onsite investigations at the hospital.

At the same time the heating team was set the challenge of investigating the annual energy consumption of heating the residential buildings at WGH to see how it could be done differently to reduce carbon emissions. They explored how well insulated the buildings were to identify how much heat might escape; how much maintenance different options require; and what grants were available for using different sources of heating. The team ruled out instances where products had to be imported or where they would be transported long distances to reduce indirect carbon emissions and instead proposed local suppliers to reduce the overall carbon footprint.

At the end of the eight months, the teams presented their findings to the board of directors and staff at the trust headquarters at WGH.

It is today's students that will become our future leaders and we hope that projects such as this will give young people an insight into the NHS

Roger Wilson, director of human resources and organisational development at the trust, said: “Getting out into the industry, thinking from the perspective of an organisation and seeing a project right through to the end is valuable experience and when applying for university, it is a skill which will help the students stand out from the crowd and be more employable.

“I would like to thank and congratulate the teams on their outstanding work and excellent research skills. Presenting to a board of directors must be very daunting and I was really impressed by the ability of the teams to respond to questions with confidence and initiative. We will be considering the findings and recommendations of both teams to decide which method will be most beneficial going forwards.

“It is today’s students that will become our future leaders and we hope that projects such as this will give young people an insight into the NHS. We look forward to continuing to work alongside local schools to provide an opportunity to develop skills and educate students about the careers that are available to them.”