NHS Providers should work with private finance initiative (PFI) consortia to cut their energy use, our Healthcare Estates Development Forum heard. Peter Sellars, Chair of the Carbon & Energy Fund, told the event the NHS had ‘missed a trick’ during the 1990s heyday of PFI by not providing contractors with incentives to deliver more energy efficient buildings.

As a result, contractors had saved on capital costs by passing energy running expenses onto the users in the ‘upwards of 25%’ of the NHS estate now made up of PFI procured buildings. He said: ‘’We’ve got to get the private sector working with the NHS to put in place good energy strategies to reduce the burden of energy in the PFI sector.’’

Susan Hone-Brookes, Chief Engineer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, told the forum the NHS had to take on board reduced energy consumption at a strategic level. Hone-Brookes said: ‘’The NHS is 70 years old and we are in the process of deciding the next future state of the NHS. The strategy on energy consumption needs to go right to the top level. There must be an overarching strategy because if we continue to design the same solutions that we have for the last 20 years we are going to miss the boat.’’

She added that the use of gels had led to a ‘huge reduction in hot water consumption’ while the increased use of scanners had sparked a massive jump in electricity consumption where they had been employed.

Chris Hall, Health Sector Lead at the BRE Group, said that construction costs only accounted for around 10% of the whole life cost of delivering health buildings.