The Healthcare Industry Needs Climate Tech Too

Global awareness of climate change and environmentally sustainable business practices is transforming industries. But healthcare delivery hasn’t seen the same move – yet. 

Healthcare is on the front lines of climate change bearing the costs of increased illnesses, changes in disease prevalence, and the health impacts of more frequent extreme weather events. At the same time, healthcare operations contribute significantly to climate change and the very diseases it is trying to treat. The healthcare sector is responsible for nearly 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with hospitals generating one-third of those emissions; 2½ times more energy per square foot is consumed by hospitals than any other commercial building.

Hospitals have a special leadership opportunity to address climate change by implementing Climate Tech innovative solutions to mitigate their emissions and adapt their infrastructure to climate-related challenges such as floods, fires, heatwaves, and more. The incentives to embrace sustainability are growing and include both improving brand awareness and positioning, as well as reducing waste disposal costs, energy bills, and the likely possibility of avoiding penalties.

healthcare climate tech

Some of the most advanced Climate Tech solutions are being developed by entrepreneurs in the Israeli tech ecosystem. At a recent event hosted by Start-Up Nation Central, healthcare leaders from around the world gained exposure to some of these innovations. Let’s look at some of the most advanced approaches that healthcare facilities can adopt to drive their sustainability and their business results:

  • Adopt Lower Carbon Energy Systems:
    Approximately 35% of the greenhouse gas emissions of hospitals in advanced countries derive from the electricity they use, as well as the heating systems. Instead of relying on fossil fuels, hospitals can convert to more efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources that reduce costs. Hospitals should consider installing smart lighting systems and investing in green energy, solar panels, and other clean energy generators. Some health systems even generate energy from the onsite incinerators they use to dispose of waste. The installation of distributed renewable energy plus storage can also help hospitals remain operational during extreme weather events or periods of peak demand. The Soroka Medical Center in Israel is already adopting the thermal storage and cooling solution by Nostromo (read here), and the Wolfson Hospital is utilizing Brenmiller for energy storage and heat supply. In addition, hospitals can drive their energy efficiency with energy optimization predictive tools such as those of, smart air conditioning systems such as Sensibo and Urecsys, which also help optimize the air quality of indoor facilities.
  • Reduce food waste and switch to sustainable food sources:
    Food is a critical element, both in terms of what a patient consumes as well as what a hospital serves or wastes – and today, approximately 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions of hospitals derive from catering. Climate Tech solutions include replacing animal products with plant-based or cultivated foods with Israeli solutions that are ready to roll up such as Aleph Farm and Remilk. Also in terms of reducing and treating food waste, hospitals can utilize solutions such as HomeBiogas which turns organic waste into energy, on-site. 
  • Textiles and Hygiene products
    2% of greenhouse gas emissions in hospitals are related to the use of textiles, and another 2% to laundry activities. The number of textiles applications in the healthcare industry range from simple cleaning wipes to advanced barrier fabrics used for operating rooms. Israeli startups are offering new sustainable and cost-effective ways to protect both hospital staff and their patients from bacteria, viruses, and body fluid invasions in operating room environments, while at the same time cutting down the use of water, energy, and harmful products and polymers that are currently massively used in textiles production. Solutions include Sonovia, which targets the healthcare industry with its ultrasonic technology that eliminates the extensive pollution caused by textile finishing and dyeing while significantly reducing costs and increasing performance. Also in the new generation of hygiene products, Israeli company Polygreen offers an ecological super absorbent polymer that replaces the polluting permeable plastic currently used in the market, allowing diapers to become fully compostable for the first time. 
  • Water and wastewater
    About 5% of the greenhouse gas emissions at hospitals is the result of water and wastewater management. 7% of the U.S. commercial water supply is used by hospitals. Delivery care facilities can utilize the power of artificial intelligence, signal processing, auto-shutoff valves, and IoT technologies to manage their water effectively, reduce consumption, eliminate waste, prevent water leak damage, and reduce their environmental footprint. Advanced solutions in this space include those of and Drizzle.
  • Drive innovation in waste management processes
    Healthcare facilities have particular constraints to attend to when it comes to their waste management processes, in particular, those related to medical waste. With unique needs come unique opportunities for novel recycling technologies and new materials for medical procedures with lower environmental impacts from their generation and disposal, such as non-plastic packaging options for sterile medical devices, and on-site remediation technologies for medical waste enabling recycling (such as solutions that can shred and sterilize medical waste to allow for more recycling options). Solutions in this space include decentralized waste disposal systems such as Zohar Cleant Tech, Co-Energy, and Boson Energy – all of which have the additional benefit of generating bio-syngas and hydrogen which can further reduce the use of fossil fuels. 

Click here to access a WatchList of innovative climate tech solutions for the healthcare sector. 

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