Sustainability Update for Tenants: Active travel and cycling Feb 2024

Approximately 3.5% (9.5 billion miles) of all road travel in England relates to patients, visitors, staff, and suppliers to the NHS, contributing around 14% of the system’s total emissions.  This includes approximately 4% for business travel and fleet transport, 5% for patient travel, 4% for staff commutes and 1% for visitor travel.

Shifting away from cars and towards cycling, walking and public transport decreases air pollution, improves physical activity and increases access to care for patients. This represents potential savings of some 461 ktCO2e per year.

As we are reaching the end of winter and Spring is in the air, why not try leaving the car at home and choosing a more sustainable, active way to travel.

  • Meeting friends and family? Avoid traffic, hassle of finding a parking space and now for some of us … ULEZ charges
  • Got a few errands to run? Grab the ‘to do list’ and get them done on your bike.
  • Fed up with the daily commute? Cycling to work is a great way to skip the traffic stress, fill you with energy for the day ahead and unwind after a busy day.

Benefits of active travel

  • improved air quality

  • addressing the climate emergency

  • improved health and wellbeing

  • increased access to employment

  • access to leisure opportunities

  • supporting sustainable economic growth

  • reduced social exclusion

  • improved safety

  • reduced noise levels

  • reduced road congestion

Did you know? there are over 5,200 miles of traffic free paths as part of the National Cycle Network. Find local routes and plan your journey

By prioritising active travel, CHP tenants can contribute to environmental sustainability, support a Greener NHS ( and set an example for the local community.

Climate change threatens the health of the population and the ability of the NHS to deliver its essential services in both the near-term and longer term. For this reason, the NHS became the first national health system in the world to commit to decarbonise its operations, setting a clear target for net zero by 2045 for its total carbon footprint, with an 80% reduction by 2036 to 2039. This commitment gained legislative footing with the Health and Care Act (2022).

More frequent and severe floods and heatwaves, and worsening air pollution are among the impacts the UK is already experiencing in our changing climate, with estimated total excess mortality of 2,803 in England during the record-breaking temperatures of summer 2022. Conversely, hitting our national net zero target will save over 2 million life years through cleaner air, healthier cities, and a more resilient health service.


The NHS fleet is the second largest fleet in the country, consisting of over 20,000 vehicles travelling over 460 million miles every year. This fleet, combined with the impact of commissioned services and staff travel, directly contributes to the 36,000 deaths that occur every year from air pollution. This burden is borne disproportionately by those with pre-existing health conditions, older people, and children.

The NHS recognises its role as an anchor institution and is taking ambitious action to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and air pollution. Indeed, many of the actions to cut carbon emissions also reduce air pollution which leads to direct and quantifiable impacts on health while also addressing health inequality. The benefits to society of implementing the commitments set out in this strategy are valued at over £270 million each year, with over £59 million saved per year by the NHS, able to be re-invested into patient care.

The ‘NHS Net Zero Transport and Travel Strategy has been developed through extensive engagement with clinical groups and patients, public health experts, and representatives from across the NHS. There is strong support from the system’s 1.4 million staff, with over 9 out of 10 wanting to see the NHS deliver on its net zero ambitions.

The NHS will have fully decarbonised its fleet by 2035, with its ambulances following in 2040.

  • By 2026, sustainable travel strategies will be developed and incorporated into trust and integrated care board (ICB) green plans.
  • From 2027, all new vehicles owned and leased by the NHS will be zero emission vehicles (excluding ambulances).
  • From 2030, all new ambulances will be zero emission vehicles.
  • By 2033, staff travel emissions will be reduced by 50% through shifts to more sustainable forms of travel and the electrification of personal vehicles.
  • By 2035, all vehicles owned and leased by the NHS will be zero emission vehicles (excluding ambulances) and all non-emergency patient transport services (NEPTS) will be undertaken in zero emission vehicles.
  • In 2040, the full fleet will be decarbonised. All owned, leased, and commissioned vehicles will be zero emission.

This strategy describes the interventions and modelling underpinning these commitments, walking through each of the major components of the NHS fleet and outlining the benefits to patients and staff. A net zero travel and transport implementation toolkit and technical support document will also be provided to trusts and systems to aid local and regional delivery.

The sustainable travel hierachy

A shift to less carbon-intensive modes of transportation such as public and active travel (figure above – from the NHS Net Zero Travel and Travel Strategy Oct 2023) will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution but also deliver significant health and wellbeing benefits to the individual and wider society.

The most sustainable mode of transport (digital communication) is at the top of the hierarchy followed by walking and wheeling, cycling, public and shared transport, electric vehicles and car sharing, ICE vehicles and car sharing, finishing with the least sustainable (air travel) at the bottom.

How CHP can help?

As a core healthcare estate, with over 300 buildings, CHP has an important role to play in the national decarbonisation ambitions and continuing to deliver fit for the future, sustainable, healthcare facilities.  Many of our CHP buildings are close to public transport links, have bike racks, and a growing number of electric vehicle charging points. 

Aligning with the NHS target of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2040, the team at CHP is committing to achieving Net Zero Carbon for the LIFT estate by 2040 and 2030 for our corporate functions. Our CHP Green Plan (PDF) sets out how CHP will deliver Net Zero Carbon, a GreenerNHS and wider sustainability initiatives improving the social, economic, and environmental situation for the communities we serve.  

CHP Green Plan - a greener CHP, a greener NHS (PDF)

As part of the NHS family, CHP supports the NHS ambition to deliver the world’s first net zero health system. Sustainable Facilities are one of our five strategic aims and Sustainability is one of our four corporate social responsibility pillars.

In 2022 CHP published our 'Green Plan: A Greener CHP a Greener NHS'. We are embedding our Green Plan into our business, committing resources, supporting staff taking action to ensure it is a success

Contact the Sustainability team at CHP

If any tenants have questions about Sustainability at CHP, our Green plan or any other net zero project, please contact the Sustainability team and copy in the ORM for your building.


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