Two Sustainable Futures Innovation projects greenlit

Sydney Children's Hospitals Network (SCHN) and NSW Health are committed to taking action and responding to climate risk to ensure the long-term sustainability of the healthcare sector.

To support this key objective, NSW Health has established a Sustainable Futures Innovation Fund and its inaugural recipients were announced earlier this month.

Congratulations to A/Prof Justin Skowno, SCHN Sustainability Clinical Lead and Anaesthetist, and Ashley Hertzog, Senior Scientist in NSW Biochemical Genetics Service, on their success in securing funding for their important sustainability projects.

The Fund is designed to build sustainable innovation capability and accelerate innovation projects that improve patient care and reduce environmental footprint (either in emissions or waste).

Of almost 80 submissions, A/Prof Skowno and Ashley's teams were two of 17 final projects selected.

A/Prof Skowno and his team were successful in securing funds under the Pharmaceuticals and Medicines category. They will run a pilot project, auditing the use and potential leakage of nitrous oxide, which has a significant carbon foot print. This data will allow the team to identify and rectify leakage sources.

“We were genuinely delighted to succeed with this application, and feel that this sort of clinician-driven project support by the Ministry is an excellent way of making progress," A/Prof Skowno, Project Lead, said.

The project will reduce nitrous oxide related greenhouse gas footprint at CHW by 500-1000 tonnes of CO2 each year. As an initial project goal, the team will aim for wastage rates of less than 10 per cent.

“This reduction, scaled across similar institutions nationally and globally, will address an important carbon hotspot in healthcare,” A/Prof Skowno said.

Our project, with many others, will give us a better chance of mitigating the worst impacts of global temperature rise in the coming decades, and provide the children we care for now with a world worth living in in the future."

Ashley and her project team received funding under the Energy and Assets Category, which will be used to support the running of a pilot project that uses green transport (WeWatt bikes) to power personal services. The project aims to increase awareness of eco-friendly practices, while also installing an off-the-grid charging station at CHW.

“This project will improve patient and family experience by facilitating easy access to electronic device charging stations. These stations also have the benefit of promoting a healthy lifestyle through exercise, giving a location to socialise, and allow access to eco-conscious educational material,” Ashley, Project Lead, said.

By facilitating access to information on sustainable practices, patients, families and staff will feel more empowered to implement these practices into their everyday lives."

Both of these initiatives will support efforts to decrease carbon emissions generated by the Network and reduce the impacts of global temperature rise. 

They are another great example of the commitment of departments, staff and services to the sustainability efforts of our Network - every action, big or small, can make a difference.

NSW Health established the Sustainable Futures Innovation Fund in 2022 to support innovation projects across the system, as part of its commitment to delivering an environmentally sustainable footprint for future healthcare. 

As a Network, we’re investing in the development of a sustainability framework, which will include our action plan for halving our carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 - consistent with the NSW Health Climate Policy Change Framework.