Environment and sustainability

Environment and sustainability

We aim to be a leading NHS Trust and advocate for this important agenda. To achieve this we are committed to working with local partners for broader changes that promote sustainability and improve the wellbeing of the communities we serve; including the commitment to making Exeter, one of our key areas, a carbon-neutral city by 2030.
Healthcare provision is incredibly resource-intensive and it is likely that this will always remain the case, due to the reliance on equipment, drugs, chemicals, energy, water, state-of-the-art facilities and the immense supply chains that provide all of these things. However, we have an obligation to minimise our impact, so that future generations can also enjoy the advances made by science and the NHS.

Our Green Plan

We have developed a roadmap – a Green Plan - to play our part in helping the NHS cut more than 1m tonnes of C02 emissions in the next three years – the equivalent of taking 520,000 cars off the road.

One of more than 200 new Green Plans put forward by NHS trusts across England, our Green Plan sets out how we will reduce our environmental impact and help the NHS reach net zero by 2040. 

For us at the Royal Devon, this will be achieved through key areas of action, including delivering sustainable models of care, supporting staff to implement green improvements across our services, and reducing the environmental impact of building works.

Click here to read our Green Plan.

Sustainable innovation

The former Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust held regular Sustainability meetings chaired by the Senior Financial Officer. 

The group saw a range of departments working together to exchange ideas and move the sustainability agenda forward. Examples include the Green Team Awards and our very own Green Dragons' Den.

We look forward to updating you with further achievements following the integration of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust in April 2022. 

Case studies

A key part of our commitment to Net Zero is working across departments, Trusts and the whole healthcare system to encourage and implement the great sustainable improvements our staff put forward.

Below are a series of case studies from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) prior to April 2022 where both clinical and non-clinical staff made an amazing contribution to saving carbon and put improvements into practice. From Anaesthesia to Zero Waste, these case studies show how staff engagement and service improvement are at the heart of our Net Zero journey. 


Utility usage

As an example, the information below regards utilities consumption (2019-20) at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) excluding community sites.



This figure includes all grid electricity, including PV cells and gas CHP generated. Average UK home usage is 4,200 kWh, so the RD&E is using the same as 5,100 homes.



Average UK domestic gas consumption is 12,000kwh, so the RD&E is using the same as 4,770 houses.



An average UK house uses 127m3 per year, so the RD&E is using the same as 1,730 houses.




How we are working to improve our environment

Prior to integration, we partnered with Centrica Business Solutions (CBS) to deliver a range of technical improvements across the estate of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford). 

These are aimed at reducing the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) site’s demand for finite natural resources; our Trust has a target to reduce carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from energy, waste and water by 28% from a 2013 baseline.

The overall project will result in a reduction in CO2e emissions of 2,200 tonnes per year and annual savings of £800k that can be redirected to services supporting patient care.

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  • Lighting - 955 tonnes CO2e per year reduction. This saving is equivalent to circa 1,000 average houses being removed from the electricity grid. There are a variety of light fittings across the RD&E estate, the majority are Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). 13,000 are being replaced, the new fittings have an average energy reduction of 69% compared to the current versions. Saving around £300k per year.
  • Air Conditioning (AC) unit occupancy, window and door sensors 136 tonnes of CO2e emissions per year. Over 100 controls are being installed on suitable AC units that will only allow the units to operate when the room is occupied and if doors and windows to the room are closed. This will prevent unnecessary energy usage. Saving around £40k per year.
  • Solar PV - 99 tonnes of CO2e emissions per year reduction. The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) already has arrays on RILD and the Aseptic Building, and new PV arrays on the roofs at Wonford, Heavitree and Marden House. Saving around £30k per year.
  • Water savings - Automatic, touch-free taps and low flush toilet flushes are being installed. It is anticipated that this will save around £100k per year by reducing the time that taps are left on. It has the additional benefit of improving infection control protection. New Combined heat and power plant Significant engineering works are underway to install a replacement 1.5MW CHP engine, which will deliver savings of around £80k per year more than the current plant, and reconfigure the existing 1MW plant to provide heat to the Laundry. If the reconfiguration is successful this scheme could be worth around £1m per year to the Trust.

Contact details

Luke Mitchell
Energy and Sustainability Manager



Take a pledge for a Net Zero NHS

The Royal Devon are fully committed to the NHS goal of reaching Net Zero by 2040. Every staff member and visitor can help in reaching this. You can pledge to cycle to work, speak to colleagues about single-use plastics, buy local fruit & veg, or start a conversation with others about the importance of our climate – every action can help make a big difference.

How can you play your part? Download the Green Pledge, fill in with how you are going to play your part and share with us on social media: @sustainableRDE, @RDEhospitals, @NDHT, #NHSDevonGreenPledge


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Last updated: January 27, 2023