Climate change and greening your general practice

The College's commitment

The College’s Board has committed to doing more to work in a way that is more environmentally sustainable. Part of that is providing better support and resources for GPs and practices to become aware of and reduce their carbon emissions. 

In November 2019 the Board signed Ora Taiao’s Climate Change and Health: Health Professionals’ Joint Call for Action.

Read the College’s position statement on climate change.

Our Greening General Practice toolkit written in 2011 and reviewed in 2016 by Dr Rebecca Randerson and Dr Rochelle Phipps provides in-depth advice and guidance. This web page adds to that with references being for information, not endorsement from the College. 

Meet some GP climate champions

Dr Robin Barraclough
"The best thing that individuals can do, that GPs can do, is recognise that they are part of the problem and make changes in their own lives, in their communities and in their workplaces that start to address the problem."

Dr Dermot Coffey
“The environment has the biggest impact on health and we see that day in and day out in our clinics. We often treat our patients knowing that the root problem actually lies outside the room, and so does the solution."

Dr Rebecca Randerson
"In terms of the health sector, secondary care offers up the most opportunities to make the biggest impact, but that isn't to say that GP clinics and practices can't play their part."

Banking and investments

Most banks will have sustainability or ‘corporate responsibility’ statements on their websites that will include environmental impact criteria, such as what they do and don’t invest in (fossil fuels vs reforestation projects for example).

Mindful Money uses interactive sliders to help you choose which environmental issues matter to you to find a Kiwisaver fund that aligns to those that is environmentally friendly.


For many GP practices, energy use, specifically electricity usage, is likely to be the area that can make the biggest contribution to environmental sustainability. 

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) The Crown entity established to encourage, promote, and support energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of renewable sources of energy. A one-stop-shop for advice and resources in this area.

Gen Less Advice website enabling you to assess your environmental footprint, such as whether solar energy will work for you, how to avoid power hungry appliances and advice on running energy efficient workplaces.

Future Fit Measure your total annual carbon footprint and get suggested actions to reduce it, such as installing solar powered water heating or solar panels.  

Ecotricity 100 percent renewable energy retailer whose power comes from hydro, wind and solar. 

Meridian New Zealand’s largest renewable energy retailer. 

Practical steps to greater environmental sustainability 


At your practice there are a variety of everyday changes you can make to reduce your impact on the environment. 

LED lightbulbs A typical eight or nine watt energy saving light bulb can provide as much light as a normal 60 watt incandescent bulb, and lasts more than 10 times as long (10,000 hours for energy saving compared to 1000 hours for incandescent).  

Turn off electrical devices/computers Simply by turning off computers/computer screens/electrical devices overnight, you can save on power and cut your carbon footprint. 

Energy-saving devices Purchasing low energy LCD computer screens or TV screens, energy efficient fridges and freezers, and dryers will reduce your environmental impact by cutting your power use. Better made appliances often last longer too.  

Set your heating/cooling for business hours If your heating and cooling systems run on a timer, set the timer for work hours to save on power and cut your carbon emissions.  

Insulation Installing proper wall insulation in your practice’s walls and ceilings, draught excluders on doors and windows, and insulating your hot water cylinder will make your practice more energy efficient and cut your power bills. 

Office supplies 
From pens, to ink and paper, most practices will use a wide variety of office supplies, which provide you with the opportunity to be more sustainable. 

Office paper/envelopes Most supplies of A4 office paper are recycled; look for paper that is from sustainable sources or is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved. Purchase recycled envelopes or envelopes with a high recycled paper content where possible.  

Hygiene paper Look for toilet roll that is FSC or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) approved or has the Environmental Choice New Zealand mark.  

Ink Cartridge refills A growing number of companies will sell remanufactured cartridges or will sell you ink you can use to refill cartridges, rather than binning them and buying new ones.  


Reducing how much we must move around, especially by car, can dramatically reduce your carbon emissions. 

Working from home Is there work (perhaps paperwork or admin work) some of your staff could do from home for either one full day or part of a day each week? For daily commutes of more than six kms you are likely to use less carbon not travelling to work than you will use in power while working from home.  

Telehealth The College actively promotes and supports the use of telehealth across practices. Providing telehealth consultations reduces travel for patients and doctors, again cutting carbon emissions and reducing your environmental impact.  

Public transport: is there a way you can encourage or support staff to use public transport to get to and from work? This can cut your carbon emissions and help the environment.  

Bike friendly: Providing bike stands for people cycling to work to secure their bicycles to, along with shower facilities for people to use when they get to work, can again cut your carbon emissions. 

Other helpful links 

Product Stewardship The Ministry for the Environment has created a list of companies in New Zealand that have been accredited for their voluntary steps towards product stewardship, where products are reused or recycled as part of a circular economy. These include concrete recycling and reuse, milk for schools, and ink and photocopying recycling.  

EECA Advice for businesses on creating a plan to become energy efficient.  

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Greening General Practice

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