Communities value their museums because of how much they have to teach us. They are quiet spaces for learning in a busy world. They are also, for the same reasons, very popular with tourists, who in turn make a particular contribution to the environmental life of a community. This is why the Green Museums programme will be taking tourists into account by working alongside the Green Tourism Business Award.
Sustainable tourism is about bring the same principles of green that apply to everyday life – recycling, cutting back on energy and using locally-sourced products – to holidays and days out. It is profitable and fun, but does not pose any damage to the environment or local community. It is an idea proving very successful, as more than 2000 locations across the UK are opting to go green.
The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the largest nationally-recognised award scheme in the country, with over 2000 organisations taking part. Here is the quick lowdown.
Any organisation that provides food, attractions or accommodation can join the Green Tourism Business scheme, as long as they are members of a quality assurance scheme such as VisitBritain. Joining the scheme entitles them to an on-site grading by a specialist and advice about green policies. They are given access to marketing and publicity opportunities to help them spread the message to potential tourists, and the scheme continues to check on them and support them after they acquire the award. And they save an average of 20% on running costs.
The award is split into three grades – Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are many ways for a business to go sustainable and the criteria are extensive. Here are some examples:
- Compulsory: Minimising pollution risk and good general maintenance.
- Management and Marketing: Establishing a green action plan and team, creating environmental awareness among staff, monitoring use of energy, recycling, transport and local environment, and GTBS marketing.
- Social and Communication: natural living spaces, non-smoking, local community projects and family-focused green activities.
- Energy: A-rated air conditioners, low energy lighting, efficient boilers, roof insulation, and solar hot water heating.
- Water: self-closing or sensor taps, low flush toilets, rainwater harvesting and chlorine-free cleaners.
- Purchasing: Recycled products, locally-sourced and sustainable food, drinking water, and traditional building products.
- Waste: Using less paper, composting kitchen waste, recycling, and correct disposal of hazardous waste.
- Travel: Information on walking and cycling, cycle storage, travel incentives and carbon management.
- Nature and Cultural Heritage: Cultural events and festivals, information about nature-related attractions in the area, native tree planting and wildlife refuges
The Green Tourism Business Award is not all there is to the Greening Museums project, but it will be very useful over the course of the two years.