Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab: Sustainable Hospitals by Medical Delta

LDE Centre for Sustainability and Medical Delta are joining forces in their mission to make healthcare more sustainable. From February to July 2022, the first Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab on Sustainable Hospitals is ran. The findings will be made available in practical solutions for healthcare providers, scientists, doctors, patients, governments, companies, and citizens.

The average life expectancy in Europe continues to rise, and also faster. Due to aging and climate change, the demand for care will increase in the coming years, as will the care costs. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer people who can provide care.

Healthcare not only carries an important responsibility in maintaining the health of people but also  in insuring a healthy environment for the people to live in. Seven percent of the total carbon footprint of the Netherlands is related to the healthcare sector. The operating room alone is responsible for approximately 20-30% of the hospital waste and pollution is increasing with the development of new technologies and materials.

All this requires a drastic transition of healthcare. Technological innovations will play a crucial role in this transition, but it is also of great importance that technology fits healthcare practice. This is only possible if scientists from different disciplines work together - with each other and with end users.

The challenge: “How can we move towards an environmentally sustainable hospital?”

Moving towards an environmentally sustainable hospital requires a complex transition. Within a hospital there are multiple departments, with different tasks, visions and needs. Furthermore, patient safety is key. Stakeholders outside the hospital, such as the manufacturing industry, are responsible for equipment, medicines and devices that are then used within the hospital: such as in the surgery room, the pharmacy and the nursing departments. The priority is to provide a high quality of healthcare, and choices cannot be made that subtract from the well-being of patients and staff.

We collected challenges that departments from the hospital and the medical technology industry are facing when it comes to improvement regarding environmental sustainability. This lab gives students the opportunity to explore these challenges with the guidance of experts in the field. The aim is to recommend solutions for these stakeholders, contributing directly to a more sustainable hospital.


About Medical Delta 

Frank Willem Jansen, Chair Medical Delta. 

Medical Delta brings together three renowned universities, two university medical centers, four universities of applied sciences, governments, companies, healthcare institutions and other parties in the province of Zuid-Holland. Together they work on 15 research programs and 10 Living Labs.

I look forward to applying or implementing the results myself.

To create a more sustainable healthcare without having to compromise on patient safety and quality of care, it is important that organizations and disciplines within these organizations work closely together to define tomorrow’s healthcare. Medical Delta wants to take a leading part in the development of greener care.


Subtopics for master theses 

The lab is structured around a main question: How can we move towards an environmentally sustainable hospital? The following sub questions form the basis for individual thesis research projects. Each assignment has its own case holder, one of the hospital departments, such as: Pharmacy Department, Medical Microbiology, Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, Gyneacology Department, Central Sterile Services Department. 

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10      11

Assignments Sustainable Hospitals Lab 2022 

Lab program

The Sustainable hospitals lab program runs from the beginning of February until the beginning of July 2022. It is a biweekly program were students from a lab come together to follow in-depth lectures and workshops related to their sustainability challenge. During these sessions, the students discover and discuss the interdisciplinary aspect of this challenge. At the end of the program, an interdisciplinary result to the sustainability challenge will be formulated by the students during a “pressure cooker”.

Curious to know more about the program of the sustainable hospitals lab 2022?

program sh




It not only takes an enormous amount of energy to keep an operating room running - let alone an entire hospital - a single operation also creates a lot of waste. Want to get an idea of the current waste of one surgery? Check out this video (in Dutch):  

Or read this article on the collaboration with Medical Delta