Environmental Policy - Camden Art Centre

Camden Art Centre has an excellent track record on reducing carbon emissions, and increasing our environmental sustainability remains a key organisational goal.

The world is facing a series of linked environmental crises. In October 2022, the UN warned that the world’s governments are not yet on track to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees, and the window for action is rapidly closing. We are already seeing the impacts of existing warming with devastating droughts, storms and floods across the world. Without urgent action from across society, these problems will rapidly escalate.

The art world has an important role to play. Arts organisations – particularly in the Global North – have a disproportionately large impact on the environment, mainly due to a great deal of international travel, arts shipping, and high use of energy and materials. We need to act urgently to reduce these impacts in line with what the science is telling us.

Why is the climate emergency important to our mission?

Camden Art Centre has an excellent track record on reducing carbon emissions, and increasing our environmental sustainability remains a key organisational goal. As a societal issue, and one that is important to the staff, artists and communities we work with, addressing the climate emergency is important to our overall mission, ensuring our work remains relevant. We aim to be a beacon of good practice in reducing our carbon emissions, to limit our pollution and waste, save energy and practise recycling. All visitors and staff should feel able to engage with our environmental programme, in the same way they do with our exhibition and learning programmes, and with just as much integrity.

We have an internal ‘Green Team’ with different department representatives who meet regularly to move forwards on agreed actions.  We participate in Julie’s Bicycle ‘Creative Green’ environmental certification scheme specifically designed for the creative sector, and were winner of ‘Best Museum and Art Gallery’ in the Creative Green Awards 2017. We were also awarded the ‘Carbon Champion’ level of certification from Camden Climate Change Alliance for 2021. We have more recently become an Active Member of the Gallery Climate Coalition focusing on what actions we can take, as well as participating in dialogue through the Plus Tate network.

We welcome all input from visitors and invite members of the public to engage in our policy. Should you have any suggestions or questions regarding our environmental focus at Camden Art Centre, please contact [email protected].

Our environmental impact

  • We continue to see a downwards trend in our Co2e tonnes emissions. 2021/22 levels were 66.4 tonnes, or 91.4 taking audience travel into account compared to a total of 196.08 in 2019/20.
  • Our zero to waste policy saved 10 tonnes of Co2e in 2021/22, with a recycling rate of 75%.
  • Recycling for staff and café food waste, totalled 3.75 tonnes of anaerobic digestion in 2021/22, reducing our overall waste production.
  • Our photovoltaic solar panels on Gallery One roof produced 8,472 KWH of electricity in 2021/22, enough to power our building for one month or offset the equivalent of 101 trees.
  • We continue to benefit from our rainwater harvesting tanks in our garden to help reduce our water usage and supply water to our garden.
  • Our audience surveys showed that in 2021/22 only 4.2% of visitors travelled by car, with the majority travelling by train (76.9%), or travelling by foot, bus and cycling.
  • We have commenced a training programme for staff on raising awareness of environmental concerns and how we can act.  4 staff currently have Carbon Literacy certification, and 2 staff are trained to use their toolkit for internal training.
  • We seek to programme work which raises awareness of our environment and the natural world such as The Botanical Mind, and to recycle as much material as possible used in the fabrication of our exhibitions.
  • Our learning and public programmes benefit from utilising our garden space and connecting participants with our environment, with 34 sessions in the first half of 2022-23. This includes family activity and our Garden Nights public programme series.
  • Since 2016 we have procured green energy electricity, through a company which generates 100% of its electricity from renewable sources
  • We have made efficiency upgrades to our Building Management System to reduce our energy consumption and prolong the life of mechanical plant work. This includes upgrading building sensors to ensure plant equipment operates ‘on-demand’ for increased efficiency. We have also set up most of our plant to run on timers to match our opening hours to avoid unnecessary wasted energy.
  • We’ve expanded LED lighting installation throughout the building.
  • Installed electrical meters on our plant (AHUs and humidifiers) controlling our gallery spaces and on our kilns to better measure the energy usage in those particular areas.
  • Our café partner Bar Bicicletta works exclusively with responsible suppliers of organic produce and small scale independent growers via Natoora.  They serve coffee supplied by Dark Woods Coffee (a certified B-Corp company) alongside small-batch organic tea from local company Nemi.  Bar Bicicletta only serves drinks from environmentally responsible companies and have partnered with Pillars Brewery, an independent company from Walthamstow, who provide organic and gluten free beer.
  • Created a new trail in the garden to help our younger visitors engaging with the natural environment, whilst also protecting the ‘wild’ area at the top in order to increase biodiversity.
  • At least halve our overall carbon emissions by 2030, from a 2019 baseline, and reduce our exhibitions emissions by 50% by 2026.
  • Strengthen links with Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC), Plus Tate and Camden Climate Change Alliance to align with best practise in the sector. We seek to work strategically with our own ‘green team’ setting and monitoring internal targets and also with other organisations to share data and learning.
  • Greater analyse the impact of our exhibitions programme through use of GCC Carbon Calculator, with an aim to reduce transportation (unless shared with at least one other UK/EU venue) and increase local production, as well as seeking to review of impact of materials used in production, in order to overall reduce our carbon impact. We have reduced the number of exhibition seasons from four to three per year.
  • Increase dialogue with artists, staff, trustees and the public, including wider training, recruiting a new trustee with particular knowledge or expertise to support our planning and monitoring, and through plans to share the carbon impact of exhibitions with our audiences.
  • Commission a top-level building review in order to feed into long term plans for investment that target waste reduction. Focus on best ways to improve building insulation to prevent heat loss which may allow us to replace gas boilers with heat pumps or similar technology.
  • Review funding options for improving environmental performance, such as heat recovery system to harness waste heat energy from our ceramics studio kilns and supply hot water/heating to the rest of the building.
  • Continue to reduce waste production and energy consumption in real terms for gas, water and electricity.
  • Further embed environmental impact reduction into our procurement policies.
  • Review budget and calculation methods towards establishing a Strategic Climate Fund to be spent on measures to accelerate our emissions reductions, and support frontline climate solutions around the world that are making a difference right now.

Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC) is an international community of arts organisations working to reduce our sector’s environmental impacts.

GCC’s primary goal is to facilitate a reduction of the sector’s CO2e emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2030.

Camden Art Centre achieved Active Membership status of the GCC by:

  1. Completing a CO2e report or audit.

  2. Establishing and maintaining a Green Team.

  3. Publishing an Environmental Responsibility Statement.

Active Member of the GCC