Why is Environmental Sustainability important to us at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village?
The environment is close to our hearts here at Watts Gallery - Artists' Village with environmental awareness and responsibility deeply rooted in the Trust’s ethos. Environmentalism was a key concern of G F Watts and when our Grade I and II* listed Arts & Crafts buildings were first constructed, provisions were put in place to ensure that they functioned sustainably and with minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. Today, nestled as we are in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to care for and preserve the local environment for future generations.
What have we achieved?
- We have established a group of staff tasked with finding ways - big and small - to reduce the organisation's carbon footprint and to adopt more sustainable working methods. This group meets regularly and reflects all areas of our organisation. We have an established Environmental Sustainability Policy and measurable action plan in place which is regularly updated.
- Within the organisation, we've appointed a Trustee Environmental Sustainability Champion to sit on the Board, and a Volunteer Ambassador to promote sustainability among our 200+ volunteers.
- In 2018, we partnered with Julie's Bicycle, a charity set up to support the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. Over the course of each year, we measure our use of water, electricity, and our waste output, and report these numbers to Julie's Bicycle, who offer guidance and suggestions for how we can improve. In March 2020, we were awarded their 3-star Creative Green Certification, as well as being nominated as Best Newcomer at their Creative Green Awards 2020. This demonstrates our commitment, understanding and improvement to environmental sustainability.
- During our 2011 restoration of the Watts Gallery, we upgraded the thermal performance of our historic building fabric, installed high efficiency condensing boilers as well as low energy ventilation systems, and used low carbon-bodied materials such as FSC certified timber, clay roof tiles and natural-based paints.
- In the Tea Shop, takeaway cups, cutlery and straws are all made from bio-degradable materials, ensuring we keep our use of single-use plastics to a minimum. In addition, every member of staff receives a reusable coffee cup, meaning staff use of the Tea Shop's takeaway cups has been almost entirely phased out.
- We have in collaboration with the Art Fund been using paper bags instead of plastic since 2011; that's over 100,000 plastic bags we've avoided using. Additionally, all barcode labels on the products we sell in the Shop are made from recycled cardboard.
- We also ensure that the paper we use to make our other printed materials, including all the leaflets and posters that you can find dotted around the Artists' Village, are FSC certified. This means that the Forest Stewardship Council has guaranteed that, from forest to manufacturer, the paper has been sourced and produced sustainably.
- Water use in the Tea Shop wash-up area has been reduced by approximately 50% thanks to the installation of a new rinsing spray jet wash.
- The waste we do generate here is managed by Chambers, a Guildford-based organisation whose specialised sorting and separation system prioritises recycling. In January 2019, Chambers diverted from landfill 99.8% of our and other local organisation's waste materials.
- As part of our ambition to contribute to and maintain the thriving eco-system right on our doorstep we've installed 4 bee hives near Limnerslease, whose inhabitants help pollinate a surrounding area of at least one square mile. We have also created natural environments for insects and hedgehogs across our woodland.
- We have bicycle racks across our estate, enabling and encouraging visitors to travel to us using clean transport.Rainwater is collected in an underground cistern for irrigating the gardens across our estate.
- We also use manure to fertilise our gardens from our neighbours at Mane Chance Sanctuary.
In the face of a changing climate, these steps are part of an initiative to improve awareness within our culture locally at the Artists' Village, as we strive to become a frontrunner for environmentally sustainable practice among museums in the South East.
How are we improving?
We are continuing our work with Julie’s Bicycle as part of their Accelerator Programme. Until September 2021, Julie’s Bicycle will be supporting us to deliver a green travel project, aimed at finding ways to increase the number of sustainable journeys taken to our site. We look forward to sharing more updates with you on this project in the future.
How can you help us?
Our Environmental Sustainability Working Group send out regular updates to all our staff, sharing wider news and further resources on the subject of environmental sustainability. Follow the link below to our blog, where you can find out the latest updates for yourself.
Instead of driving here, why not walk or cycle? Did you know that Watts Gallery is located on existing walking and cycle routes? Explore these routes, and other green travel options to our site, here. https://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/visit/how-find-us/
If you have ideas for how we might improve, or any kind of feedback on our sustainability actions, we would love to hear from you. Contact Lauren Hall, Environmental Sustainability Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.