Introducing the National Galleries of Scotland Environmental Response Plan

We recognise an urgent need to play our part in combating the climate and ecological emergency.  

Art has the universal power to inspire us and all of our stakeholders in responding to the collective challenge we face. 

As the eyes of the world turn to Glasgow as the host of this year’s 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, 31 October – 12 November (COP26), we have an opportunity to take stock of the progress we have made to date at the National Galleries of Scotland, and to outline where we wish to go to next and how we plan to get there.

A new Environmental Response Plan has been developed through close consultation with colleagues from across our organisation. It recognises that a significant amount of work has already been achieved, and much of it behind the scenes.

The story so far
 
  • We reached our 42% carbon reduction target two years early in 2017/18, and we cut our carbon footprint by 60% between 2008/09 and 2021/22.  

  • All our Galleries have achieved Gold Status from Visit Scotland’s Green Tourism accreditation scheme. This shows that we provide sustainable tourism destinations which have managed to significantly reduce their carbon footprints, as well as utility, water and waste bills. 

  • Our Learning and Engagement Team have led the way on delivering sustainable public events by using an ecargo bike for outdoor ‘Art in the Open’ sessions, travelling all over the Edinburgh to deliver free drop-in drawing and sketching meet ups for members of the public. 

  • Our cafes have for years been championing the use of high quality and sustainably sourced Scottish produce and in doing so have helped reduce food miles and other environmental impacts.

Photograph by John Linton
Looking to the future 

We are building on this progress by committing to three priority areas for the future in our new Environmental Response Plan.  

1. Engaging and Inspiring  

We will work with our partners in Scotland’s cultural sector and beyond to inspire people and communities to do whatever they can to help make positive change. Through our exhibitions, learning programmes and digital content, we will find inclusive and sustainable ways to engage our audiences in understanding how we can all contribute to a low carbon society.  

2. Playing our part to achieve Net-Zero  

As Scotland's aims to reach its net-zero target before 2045, we will reduce our environmental impact by adopting low carbon alternatives wherever possible across our own estate.  

3. Protect our world class collection 

We will prepare for the effects and impacts of climate change in order to protect Scotland’s world-class art collections for future generations. 

Turning our commitments into actions

Preserving Pasts, Imagining Futures: Falkland Palace in Fife, reimagined in a 'warmer' setting.

We are already making good progress. For example:  

  • The Galleries launched Preserving Pasts, Imagining Futuresa public engagement project in partnership with the National Library of Scotland inviting people all over Scotland to imagine how the country might look in the future due to climate change.  

  • We are identifying innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint through improving our historic buildings and adopting virtual couriering for art works. 

  • Looking further ahead, our Art Works capital project will deliver Scotland’s largest building designed to the highly energy efficient Passivhaus standard to care for the national collection. 

Children from Edinburgh College Nursery enjoy a trip to the mobile orchard (owned by local business, Soilutions), that sits on the site for The Art Works. Picture: Roberto Riccuiti
29 October 2021