The NHS could save £60m if it manages to stick to its primary energy consumption reduction target of 15% by 2010, according to a report.
The NHS Confederation says the health service currently spends £400m on energy use each year, resulting in around one million tonnes of carbon being released in the form of emissions.
Its Taking the Temperature report says the savings made by a 15% reduction would be enough to carry out 7,000 heart bypass operations or run a small community hospital.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) is a compulsory emissions trading scheme. It means that from April 2010, the NHS and other large-scale energy users will be obliged by law to improve their performance. This will be done by making organisations purchase allowances equivalent to their CO2 emissions and then leaving it in their hands to work out the best way of making the reductions.
The government hopes that four million tonnes of CO2 and £1bn will be saved every year by 2020 as a result of the scheme.
Incentives include bonus payments to organisations that reduce their energy use, as well as the naming and shaming of bad performers on an energy-reduction league table.