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Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Gathering the evidence: health and aged care carbon inventory study

Sharon Desmond A * , Jenny Smith A , Jessica Hogg B , Jo Walton-Hespe B and Jo Gardner-Marlin B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Mercy Health, Level 2, 12 Shelley Street, Richmond, Vic. 3121, Australia.

B Arup Australia Pty. Ltd., Barrack Place, L5 151 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

* Correspondence to:

Australian Health Review 47(6) 634-640
Submitted: 29 June 2023  Accepted: 22 September 2023  Published: 10 October 2023

© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of AHHA. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)



This study aimed to calculate the baseline carbon inventory of Mercy Health, a provider of health and aged care services in Australia, across emission Scopes 1, 2 and 3. The carbon inventory has clarified the baseline environmental impact, identified carbon hotspots and will inform emissions reduction interventions and a decarbonisation trajectory.


A hybrid carbon footprinting methodology was devised. Established carbon footprinting standards provided methodological guidance. A consulting firm with health service carbon accounting experience provided expertise, rigour and objectivity to the work.


In the 2020–21 financial year, the carbon footprint of Mercy Health was 102.96k tCO2-e. Scope 1 emissions accounted for 11.07% (11.40k tCO2-e), followed by Scope 2 with 29.80% (30.68k tCO2-e) and Scope 3 with 59.13% (60.88k tCO2-e). The largest carbon impost group was Building energy (42.01%; 43.25k tCO2-e), followed by Food and catering (9.42%; 9.70k tCO2-e) and Business services (7.74%; 7.97k tCO2-e). Mercy Health’s Health Services, Aged Care and Support Services divisions contributed 49.16, 47.81 and 3.03% (50.61k, 49.23k and 3.12k tCO2-e) of total greenhouse gas emissions respectively.


Mercy Health’s Health Services division and Aged Care division each comprised around half of total organisation carbon emissions. Building energy dominated emissions, particularly electricity. The study discovered meaningful differences in the composition of carbon emissions in operational divisions of the organisation, indicating tailored interventions will be required to meet carbon abatement targets. The study demonstrates the benefit of conducting carbon footprinting within individual organisations, and the importance of studies within the Australian context.

Keywords: aged care, carbon footprint, environmental sustainability, health services, health services research, health systems, hospitals, sustainability.


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