Press release 71/22 - 22.07.2022

Nachhaltigkeit von Krankenhäusern verbessern

Wie es um Energieeffizienz, Umweltschutz und soziale Faktoren in Kliniken bestellt ist, untersuchen Forschende des Zentrums für Klimaresilienz bei der Fortentwicklung von „Green HospitalPLUS“

A team at the Centre for Climate Resilience at the University of Augsburg is now researching what hospitals need to be able to position themselves more sustainably. On behalf of the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care, the team is developing practical indicators that can be used to measure and evaluate the sustainability of healthcare facilities. The project has funding of 1.8 million Euros from the Free State of Bavaria, and is scheduled to run for three years.

Prof. Dr. Axel Tuma, president Prof. Dr. Doering-Manteuffel and Prof. Dr. Harald Kunstmann receive a check for the funding sum of the research project Green HospitalPLUS by minister for health Klaus Holetschek.

The Free State of Bavaria has set itself the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040. The healthcare sector is also relevant here, with its share of almost five percent of national greenhouse gas emissions. With the Green Hospital Initiative, the Bavarian State Ministry of Health and Care initiated a contribution to the Bavarian energy transition in 2011 in order to improve the energy efficiency of hospitals. The initiative, which has since been expanded to include the dimensions "environment" and "people" under the label "Green HospitalPLUS ", is to be further developed by the new Augsburg research project into an holistic, indicator-based sustainability tool for Bavarian hospitals.
"With the further development of our Green HospitalPLUS initiative, we are driving forward climate protection in Bavarian hospitals. I am very pleased that the Centre for Climate Resilience is supporting us in doing so with its scientific expertise," explained Minister of Health Klaus Holetschek on the occasion of the handover of the funding decision for the research project supported by the State Ministry of Health and Care.

"With its diverse disciplines and interdisciplinary networking, our Centre for Climate Resilience has the right skills to provide constructive and holistic support for the Green HospitalPLUS initiative," says Prof. Dr. Sabine Doering-Manteuffel, President of the University of Augsburg.

The new project will start with initially seven researchers from the Resource Lab, communication science and economics, and will be led by Prof. Dr. Axel Tuma, who is also Deputy Director of the Centre for Climate Resilience. "With the Augsburg results, we make possible an assessment of the sustainability of hospitals and develop offers for scientifically sound and practice-oriented improvement measures. In this way, we will make a contribution to advancing the Green HospitalPLUS initiative,” he says, in his summary of the research mission.

Sustainability in hospitals

In addition to energy-efficient buildings, the use of renewable energies, environmentally friendly supply chains and avoidance of waste, there are also areas that are particularly relevant in healthcare and which are also explicitly investigated accordingly: "For example, it is worth taking a look at which anaesthetic gas is used. Some have a greenhouse effect with up to 2540 times the effect of CO2. Scissors or other instruments are often used only once and thrown away,” explains Tuma. If these were sterilised, they could be reused and resources saved. However, this would mean higher personnel costs. "So it’s important to keep an eye on the entire system of the healthcare facility," says the scientist. Further starting points could include a reduction in CO2 and water consumption or material flows – for example, packaging material. For all these and other facets, the scientists will develop practice-oriented, low-threshold solutions, initially for hospitals.

Survey at Bavarian hospitals

To this end, in addition to a survey of all Bavarian hospitals, a representative survey of at least 25 planned hospitals providing basic, maximum and specialised care will be carried out. Here it is important to the researchers to involve the players concerned in the local healthcare facilities. What opportunities and needs are there on the ground? What showcase examples are there? What is needed for greater sustainability? Which key figures can be used?

"With the survey, extensive research of the literature and an analysis of national and international best practice examples, we obtain a very detailed and comprehensive view of the current status in terms of sustainability in Bavarian hospitals and, above all, of the potential for practice-oriented improvements," says Dr Andrea Thorenz , who is coordinating the content of the project.

Measures are tested in selected hospitals

In a further step, the indicators developed as well as measures that improve sustainability are tested and evaluated at selected hospitals and specialist clinics. This will take place in various areas, for example in the intensive care unit, in the central sterilisation department or in the laboratory. The researchers will examine the processes on site and further develop the indicators. But they will also check how feasible their proposals are. Security of supply is also a relevant aspect in this case.

"Our research results will be incorporated into tools that enable simple self-analysis and support hospitals in positioning themselves more sustainably," says Thorenz. In a web-based tool, those responsible can find out how sustainably their hospital is positioned and where there is still potential. The existing best practice database will also be completely revised with this in mind.

Sustainability is rewarded

Another aspect of the project is the further development of the "Green HospitalPLUS " label, which distinguishes particularly sustainable hospitals. The communication scientists at the University of Augsburg are researching how well known this label is and how it is perceived. They are conducting surveys among patients and employees of the hospitals, and then also with the general public. Does sustainability play a role in the choice of hospital? Can the label have a positive effect when recruiting new staff? What expectations does the population have? The researchers are investigating which factors contribute to acceptance of the Green HospitalPLUS label.

About the Centre for Climate Resilience

The following members of the Centre for Climate Resilience at the University of Augsburg are involved in the three-year project:

  • Resource Lab of the University of Augsburg, represented by Dr. Thorenz (content coordination)
  • Prof. Dr. Helena Bilandzic and Dr. Anja Kalch (Health and Environmental Communication Working Group; Chair of Communication Studies with a focus on reception and impact research)
  • Prof. Dr. Jens Brunner (Chair of Health Care Operations / Health Information Management)
  • Prof. Dr. Manuel Ostermeier (Professorship for Resilient Operations )
  • Prof. Dr. Axel Tuma ( Chair of Production & Supply Chain Management)
  • Prof. Dr. Marcus Wagner (Chair of Innovation and Sustainable Management)

The Centre for Climate Resilience was founded in December 2020 as a central institution of the University of Augsburg with the aim of coordinating and bundling all of the university's strengths and activities relating to its research focus on climate resilience across all faculties. The approximately 30 founding members come from the Faculties of Applied Computer Science, Medicine, Economics, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Philology and History, the Faculty of Law, as well as the interdisciplinary research group "Resource Lab" and the Environmental Science Centre.

These existing competencies will be supplemented by 10 new professorships from a wide range of disciplines. In concrete terms, the Centre aims to develop holistic and actionable strategies for adapting to the inevitable consequences of climate change at regional, national and international level. Central building blocks for the implementation of this goal are on the one hand the promotion of interdisciplinary exchange, and on the other hand, the transfer of scientific knowledge in dialogue with politics and society.

About the Green HospitalPLUS initiative


Research Contact

Prof. Dr. Axel Tuma
Deputy Director
Centre for Climate Resilience
Senior Researcher, Head of Resource Lab
Institute of Materials Resource Management

Media Contact

Michael Hallermayer
Deputy Media Officer
Communications and Media Relations