The Engineering Management Directorate del Negrín has managed to reduce fuel consumption by 60% and electricity consumption by 20% in the last decade, despite the fact that the activity of the hospital center has grown by 30%. The management and model of sustainability and energy efficiency “pioneer in the Canary Islands”, implemented by Talavera, constitutes an example for the economic sectors of the Islands that want to access European financing. “It is a revolutionary change for which the most important thing is to align the particular interest with the interests of all, and for this it must be clear that projects that take care of the environment also take care of our way of life, since we live from tourism », Pointed out the industrial engineer and master’s degree in Health Services Administration and Management.
In order to include the benefits of the environmental wealth of the Canary Islands in the projects, it is necessary, according to Luis Talavera, that the sustainable mentality catches up with entrepreneurs. “For that the Administration has to go ahead, to show that this strategy is profitable” and gives as an example the strategy carried out in Negrín. “We made decisions during these years that even led us to renew industrial machinery and, despite the increase in sanitary activity, we have managed to consume 60% less fuel, and electricity consumption has decreased by approximately 20%, which it has left six million euros in savings in the last 10 years that have been invested in improving services for the patient.
In order to calculate the value of the Canarian natural heritage, according to the hospital’s Engineering Management director, standards that help to inventory natural resources can be used. This involves calculating from the value of wood, and the rest of forest products, to that of capturing CO2 and reducing people with pollution-related diseases in terms of health spending, deaths averted, productivity and income to social security , area populated by forests and water retention in those territories, passing through the recreational benefits that the mountains and protected natural spaces provide, as well as biodiversity and its component of tourist attraction.
Talavera has carried out pioneering management in sustainability and energy efficiency in the hospital
As an example, Talavera points out the natural heritage of the Maspalomas Dunes in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, a municipality of Gran Canaria that was rated, with 12.7 million tourists, as the third in Spain in the Hotel Occupation surveys of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) until 2018. «It is priceless to take care of the natural space of the Maspalomas Dunes, calculating what they are worth for the tourist income received and adding the amount in euros to the project reports, it is much clearer how important it is to invest in its conservation ».
In this sense, the engineer affirms that natural capital calculations can help the Canary Islands to design management strategies that maximize the contribution of the environment to economic growth, while balancing trade-offs between ecotourism, agriculture, livelihoods and other services of the ecosystems. «In fact, a study by a Valencian consultancy estimates the combined value of Menorca’s forests at 540 million euros and the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) is developing a tool with the Junta de Andalucía that can help determine the value hidden part of the Spanish natural heritage », he points out.
Calculating tourist income in the Dunes reveals “the importance of investing in their conservation”
This calculation allows to know the direct and indirect benefits originated by the forest mass thanks to a conservation tool that highlights goods and services that are usually “invisible” in the eyes of society. Thus, specialists can calculate the CO2 capture made by forests or what the vegetation cover helps to filter the water into the aquifers. To find out how much the erosion control that forests exert on the soil on which they sit is worth, the amount of land held by them is assessed and compared with the market price per cubic meter. «The reduction of CO2 emissions from an institution or an island can be modest compared to the rest of the country, but if it is done in all the autonomous communities, in Spain we can align ourselves with the amounts established by the European Union for fight climate change, which means that we will have more options to apply for financial support. ‘
“The protection of the environment is the support of our economic development as a tourist region”
This measure of the value of nature in economic terms has a precedent in the Canary Islands in the health sector through the Negrín Hospital, where the Engineering Department presents the environmental benefits in its projects in euros. “On a large scale, you can assess it in terms of health and quality of life of the population in terms of fewer sick leave, lower health and social security costs, and disability pensions, or reduction in preventable deaths, and associated productivity improvements.” In this regard, Talavera points out that the calculations made are converted to euros “because it is a language that works” and points out that the hospital’s interest in investing in sustainability and environmental improvement is not only focused on achieving economic savings, but on helping to reduce the level of emissions or residues. «Our particular interest in economically saving energy that helps us reinvest it in healthcare for our patients, is aligned with the general interest of protecting the environment, which ultimately supports our economic development and way of life as a tourist region ».