Two SCW members of staff

SCW Green Plan - Our commitments

We have adopted the multi-award-winning Care Without Carbon framework to help us maximise the impact and success of our Green Plan. This provides the basis for a comprehensive, integrated plan to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and reducing our impact on the environment to 2025 and beyond. 


As part of our Green Plan 2022, we have set out our approach to delivering against our vision, key aims – and our net-zero carbon targets. We outline the key commitments in each of the eight elements of the Care Without Carbon framework, as well as a proposed key success measure through which we will monitor our progress.

1. Places

Ensuring our places are low carbon and protect local biodiversity whilst supporting the wellbeing of staff, visitors and our local community.

Key success measure to 2025: 57% reduction in our emissions by 2025/26 in line with NHS Net Zero Carbon (NZC) targets

Our approach

Our buildings are the largest contributor to our direct carbon emissions as an organisation. Through this workstream, we aim to minimise our impact on the environment and ensure our places support the wellbeing of staff. The challenge is to drastically reduce the carbon impact of our estate, most of which is leased, and reach net-zero carbon by 2040.

Our commitments

  • We will reduce energy and water consumption across our estate and cut our carbon emissions in line with NZC targets.
  • We will ensure our places provide comfortable and sustainable environments that are good places to work and support wellbeing.
  • We will work with our landlords and local partners to improve green spaces available at our office locations so they are more biodiverse, better able to support wellbeing and support our low carbon care delivery ambitions.

 2. Journeys

Ensuring the transport and travel that links our care and our communities is low cost, low carbon and conducive to good health and wellbeing.

Key success measure to 2025: a 57% reduction in all measurable travel CO2e.

Our approach

Travel is a significant part of the environmental impact of the NHS, with around 3.5% (9.5 billion miles) of all road travel in England related to patients, visitors, staff and suppliers to the NHS. Travel contributes to our carbon footprint, creates air pollution locally and contributes to traffic congestion – all of which in turn impact directly on the wellbeing of our staff and our local community.

Through our Journeys workstream we aim to:

  • Eliminate non-essential travel
  • Increase the uptake of healthier active travel choices
  • Ensure that all remaining travel uses the most resource-effective methods and follows the travel mode hierarchy.

Collaboration with partners across the organisation – digital in particular – as well as local partners will be key to this.

Our commitments

  • We will decarbonise our travel and fleet and minimise the environmental and health impacts associated with the movement of staff and materials.
  • We will maximise our contribution to wellbeing through active travel, supporting a shift to more sustainable travel options that deliver additional environmental and health benefits.
  • We will work in an agile way, working with staff and customers to understand and consider the carbon impacts of non-essential travel.

 3. Circular economy

Respecting our health and natural resources by creating an ethical and circular supply chain.

Key success measure to 2025: deliver a measurable reduction in carbon emissions associated with our supply chain.

Our approach

70% of NHS emissions are associated with the goods and services we use. So it’s critically important that we take a different approach to how we treat our resources and the people that produce and distribute our products. Adopting a circular economy is the best way to make this happen. This means we need to:

  • take a joined-up approach to purchasing, use and disposal of products
  • integrate lifecycle thinking and sustainability criteria into our procurement decisions
  • redistribute products and materials at their end of use.

Our commitments

  • We will significantly reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of our supply chain.
  • We will work with our suppliers to improve. the health and wellbeing of the people and communities supporting our supply chains.
  • We will work to understand the impact of waste disposal across our sites and continuously reduce our total waste and increase reuse.

 4. Culture

Empowering and engaging people to create change towards our path to net-zero.

Key success measure to 2025: 100% of staff have the opportunity to engage with sustainability.

Our approach

In order to deliver against our net-zero carbon commitments, we need to make sustainability part of everyday thinking and decision making. How we engage with our staff – and our wider partners – is core to becoming a more sustainable organisation. To successfully achieve our targets and provide sustainable health and care, colleague engagement with the Green Plan is required at every level of the organisation.

We will adopt an inclusive approach to educate, inform and engage our colleagues so that they are empowered to change habits and learning and can successfully reduce their carbon footprint and waste at home, as well as at work. Building a culture that is inclusive and empowers people to create changes in a way that is meaningful to them, will be a key enabler to us achieving our net-zero aims.

Our commitments

  • We will establish a strong narrative that runs across all aspects of the organisation in support of sustainable behaviours and actions both in work and in personal lives.
  • We will ensure the Green Plan is aligned to our corporate values and existing organisational priorities e.g. Building a Culture of Belonging, Building a Stronger Future Together (BaSFT) and SCW Thrive.
  • We will partner with others to seek opportunities to develop the narrative on sustainable healthcare and create opportunities for people to share ideas.

5. Wellbeing

Supporting people to make sustainable choices that enhance their wellbeing.

Key success measures to 2025:

  • Support Improvement of overall wellbeing KPIs for SCW staff. 
  • Support greater engagement with SCW staff wellbeing survey and Thrive initiatives. 
  • Support a reduction in sickness absence, linked to ‘sustainability’ health and wellbeing initiatives. 
  • Provide greater education opportunities to SCW staff related to Green Plan and sustainability.

Our approach

A healthy workforce is key to our ability to deliver high-quality services to our NHS partners. And providing a workplace that supports wellbeing is integral to attracting and retaining the rich mix of skills and talent that we require. We recognise that healthy behaviours are sustainable behaviours, and seek to encourage both. Aligning the wellbeing and sustainability agendas will add value and impact to the benefit of staff and our wider community. Through our Green Plan, we will seek to adopt an inclusive approach to educate, inform and empower people to make choices that will both reduce their impact on the environment while also improving health.

Our commitments

  • We will adopt an inclusive approach to supporting staff to adopt new behaviours that improve physical and mental wellbeing.
  • We will work with customers to support the health and wellbeing of our communities and the reduction of health inequality with a focus on fuel poverty, air quality and access to green spaces.

 6. Climate adaptation

Building resilience to our changing climate in the UK.

Key success measure to 2025: Undertake a climate impact assessment and integrate findings into our business continuity procedures and longer-term strategic health planning by 2025.

Our approach

As the NHS works to mitigate climate change by drastically reducing emissions to net-zero carbon, there is also a need to adapt to the consequences it brings – now and in the future. Impacts already being felt in the South include an increase in the prevalence of heatwaves and extreme weather events such as flooding. These impacts will increase over time and broaden to other areas including changing patterns of vector, food and water-borne diseases. We must build resilience to our changing climate in the South – and support our NHS partners to do the same – to ensure we adapt to those impacts, as well as work to mitigate them.

Our commitments

  • We will identify and map climate change risks for our organisation, our customers and our communities.
  • We will develop an action plan to address climate adaptation in our area, together.

 7. Partnership and collaboration

Enhancing our impact by working with others.

Key success measure to 2025: Delivery of at least twenty customer projects with measurable sustainability benefits by 2025.

Our approach

Delivering sustainable healthcare will only be possible by integrating sustainability thinking into day-to-day decision making across the organisation. Working with others will provide synergy and ensure our plans are comprehensive and their implementation effective.

Working with our NHS partners at a wider level is also key. By working together to deliver net-zero carbon we can share learning and best practice, reduce duplication, make the best use of our resources and collectively deliver against net-zero carbon.

Our commitments

  • We will increase the impact of our work by supporting other healthcare organisations to deliver more sustainable, net-zero carbon healthcare.
  • We will develop and seek out opportunities to collaborate with others both nationally and internationally to maximise our opportunity to learn from others and share our learning.

8. Evolving care

Developing and enabling lower carbon and sustainable models of care.

Key success measure to 2025: Clinically-focused projects delivering positive, measurable sustainability benefits with at least three of our customers by 2025.

Our approach

80% of the carbon footprint of the NHS is driven by clinical decisions. Reaching net-zero carbon by 2040 will require a big shift in how the NHS delivers care which cannot be achieved without input from clinicians. Enabling clinical teams to develop and enable lower carbon, more sustainable models of care is therefore essential.

Our commitments

  • We will integrate our sustainability principles at a strategic level across all our clinically focused programmes.
  • We will support our customers to deliver against these principles by making lower carbon, more sustainable choices when delivering care day-to-day.