What does a sustainability assessment look like?

Some readers may be curious as to what is involved in a sustainability assessment. You may know the energy ins and outs of your building, and you may know about recycling, local produce and the other measures you yourselves can take. So what might a ‘Reducing Bills’ analysis include?

For a start, since this is the ‘Reducing Bills’ programme, your suggestions will be organised according to cost. For example:

Zero or Low Cost Solutions: weighing your weekly rubbish, draught-proofing a door, nominating a Green Champion

Medium Cost Solutions: New lighting, cavity wall insulation

High Cost Solutions: Solid wall insulation, new boiler

Furthermore, similarly to the Greening Museums Toolkit and the Green Tourism Business Award, a sustainability assessment on the ‘Reducing Bills’ programme may look at the following areas:

Energy: For example: Who supplies it and what they charge; your level of insulation and what the building can support; the level and timing of lighting and heating

Structure: For example: Whether the doors and windows let in draughts; How often doors and windows are opened

Waste: For example: Whether you recycle; what you recycle; whether you participate in local recycling initiatives

Water: For example: How much water you consume; the types of tap; type of flush on your toilets

Travel: For example: whether visitors can get to the museum by public transport, cycling or walking; how staff get to work; car-sharing and travel incentives.

Purchasing: For example: whether the museum’s food is locally sourced, whether the shop includes Fair Trade, recycled or local products; packaging.

Nature and Cultural Heritage: For example: your local wildlife; possible green activities you could offer your visitors.

Finally, you will have a chance to see a thermal image of your building. The images provide a way of telling not only how much heat is escaping from that particular area, but also how this compares to other parts of the building.

Finally, we might get a measure of your carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is a measure of your greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the products you use as well as your methods of transport and heating. In 2010, the average UK household used 3.2 tonnes of carbon a year. Imagine, however, what it will be after you put in your energy-saving measures.

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