Te Whatu Ora welcomes the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund (SSDF) $61.7 million investment into the sustainability of the country’s health infrastructure and improved health outcomes for Kiwis.


This funding supports $70m already committed by Aotearoa New Zealand’s publicly funded health service provider towards projects and programmes that aim to both respond to and reduce the impact of climate change on communities across the motu.


This adds up to a total of $130m being invested over the next two years in climate change mitigation across Te Whatu Ora to support the work being done to improve the health and wellbeing of all, says Te Whatu Ora Chief Executive Margie Apa.


“Health has been identified as one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from the public sector,” she says. “Decarbonisation and other sustainability measures have been a key focus for Te Whatu Ora since its inception, and funding from the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority's SSDF will be instrumental for targeted environmental outcomes to be realised.”


The money will go towards replacing the 11 remaining Te Whatu Ora coal boilers powering New Zealand’s public hospitals with systems utilising more sustainable energy sources, as well as a considerable energy transition programme which includes natural gas boiler conversion, LED lighting transition and other energy efficiency and fossil fuel reduction projects, including the electrification of Te Whatu Ora’s vehicle fleet.


The announcement also includes $2.2m to convert a further three coal boilers at the Dunedin Energy Centre to biomass fuel, which will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 147,740 tonnes over the next ten years (around 14,774 tonnes per annum on average).


It is expected that all SSDF-supported projects will have been completed by June 2025, reducing greenhouse emissions by more than 54,000 tonnes each year once implemented.


That is good news for the environment and public health, says Ms Apa.


“Climate change is widely regarded as the single biggest threat to human health and wellbeing, especially for those living in less developed regions, Māori and Pasifika communities, and low-income households.


“There is a proven connection between a healthier environment and population health improvements, meaning this work will, over time, help to reduce demand on our under-pressure health services.”

She says the size and scale of the organisation will ensure sustainability investments will be efficient and cost-effective and deliver important nationwide change.


“The creation of Te Whatu Ora has provided the opportunity to make systemic change in relation to the way the public health system in Aotearoa New Zealand approaches and reacts to environmental sustainability and climate resilience across both mitigation and adaptation activities.


“Sustainability is already at the core of every infrastructure decision we make, and work is ongoing to fully assess the impact of climate change across the Te Whatu Ora estate to better inform our response to this global issue.”


Information for Editors


Response to climate change

  • New and increasing health risks, more frequent and extreme adverse weather events and higher temperatures, along with changing expectations and demands, mean Te Whatu Ora needs to ensure the health system can adapt and respond to climate change.  
  • As the environment is one of the determinants of health, particularly for vulnerable populations, responding to climate change will deliver broader benefits to population health and improve equity, enabling our key system shifts under Pae Ora.
  • The Infrastructure and Investment Group (IIG), part of Te Whatu Ora, works closely with regional health facilities to promote access to the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund (SSDF), administered by EECA (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority), to invest in low-emissions heating, cooling, and energy efficient lighting.

Replacement of coal boilers

  • There were originally 26 coal boilers powering Aotearoa New Zealand’s hospitals, with 15 replaced to date. Of these, nine fossil free alternatives, such as biomass boilers or ground sourced heat pumps, have been implemented through the SSDF over the past three years.
  • Replacement of the 11 remaining coal boilers with more sustainable options will also deliver an annual operational cost reduction of approximately $450,000.
  • With a further three coal boilers at the Dunedin Energy Centre, a total of 14 coal boilers will be converted through this funding announcement
  • The land that Dunedin Energy Centre occupies is owned by Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ). However, the business has been owned and operated by a third party (Pioneer Energy), since 2002.  
  • Around 90% of the energy it produces is supplied to State Sector customers, including Dunedin Hospital. The remaining 10% is supplied to ALSCO (laundry) which also services a number of State Sector organisations in the area (Dunedin Hospital and University of Otago). 

Sustainable Infrastructure

  • All new large-scale Te Whatu Ora infrastructure investments are now required to meet the New Zealand Green Building Council 5-Star Green Star accreditation standards.
  • Resilience of the health estate, particularly for new buildings, is a top priority to prevent disruption to critical service delivery when confronted by climate change events.
  • The national health provider recently joined the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) network, a worldwide community of more than 1600 members in 81 countries. The network is facilitating the health sector globally to use innovation, ingenuity, and investment to transform its practices and create a healthy future for people and the plane Te Whatu Ora is also a member of the Sustainable Business Council.
  • Te Whatu Ora has been proactive in establishing greenhouse emissions reduction plans and initial targets which are outlined in Te Pae Tata – the interim Health Plan.


For more information visit: https://www.tewhatuora.govt.nz/about-us/environmental-sustainability-and-climate-resilience/