Healthcare is a critical and complex service sector with a sizable environmental “footprint” – with greenhouse gas emissions estimated at 5-10% of the national total in developed economies like Canada and the USA. As in all other sectors, the environmental footprint of healthcare can ultimately be linked to public health harms – which studies estimate are on par with those from preventable medical errors. Yet, little is known about the breakdown of emissions sources. Some, like hospital energy use, are obvious. But others, like the supply-chains of pharmaceuticals and a myriad of other products used in healthcare, are not so obvious.
Alex Cimprich, a PhD candidate in the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development, is among a growing national and international network of clinicians and researchers working to measure and manage environmental sustainability in healthcare. In this talk, Alex will present his innovative doctoral work, in which he systematically assessed the carbon footprint, and other environmental aspects, of a 40-bed hospital in British Columbia. In that study, Alex combined a wealth of hospital-specific data (covering energy and water use, waste generation, patient transportation, and much more) with new generic data compiled for approximately 200 goods and services used in healthcare. Alex’s work provides an unprecedented level of comprehensiveness and detail to inform decision-making for environmental sustainability in healthcare. But this is just the beginning of a larger vision. outcomes, hospitalization and loss of independent living at home. Emerging medication technology has the potential to address medication management challenges. However, appropriate selection and monitoring of the use of technology is necessary to ensure expectations in adherence and health outcomes are realized.
PhD Candidate, Alex Cimprich
Alex is a PhD candidate, defending in July 2022, in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo. Within the broader field of Sustainability Management, Alex’s research looks through the lens of Industrial Ecology – the study of material and energy flows through the economy, and the implications for sustainable development. Alex’s current research applies an industrial ecology approach to sustainability management in the healthcare sector.