Reducing the carbon footprint of research: experience from the NightLife study

Niamh Quann, Steph Burns, Katherine L Hull, Victoria Cluley, Carla Richardson, Kateryna MacConaill, Carmel Conefrey, Leila Rooshenas, Helen Eborall, James O Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: As set out in the Climate Change Act (2008), the UK National Health Service (NHS) has made a commitment to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and reach net zero by 2050. Research forms a core part of NHS activity and reducing the carbon footprint of clinical trials is a core element of the National Institute for Health and Care Research Carbon Reduction Strategy (2019).

KEY ARGUMENTS: However, support from funding organisations on how to achieve these targets is lacking. This brief communication article reports the reduction in the carbon footprint of the NightLife study, an ongoing multicentre randomised controlled trial assessing the impact of in-centre nocturnal haemodialysis on quality of life.

CONCLUSION: By using remote conferencing software and innovative data collection methods, we demonstrated a total saving of 136 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over three workstreams during the first 18 months of the study, following grant activation on 1 January 2020. In addition to the environmental impact, there were additional benefits seen to cost as well as increased participant diversity and inclusion. This work highlights ways in which trials could be made less carbon intensive, more environmentally sustainable and better value for money.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere070200
Pages (from-to)e070200
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Humans
  • Carbon Footprint
  • State Medicine
  • Quality of Life
  • Greenhouse Gases
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic


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