We are working across our operations to reduce our impact on the environment. We have worked with the Carbon Trust to benchmark and develop plans to reduce Tate’s carbon footprint. Since 2007, we have reduced our energy use and carbon emissions, decreased our water use and cut waste going to landfill. We are using the opportunities presented by our capital plans to test the latest sustainable technologies and working practices, which can then be shared with colleagues across the world. The expanded Tate Modern will use 54% less energy than building regulations require and we will embed sustainability into our plans for Tate St Ives Phase Two.

We are delighted to hold the Carbon Trust Standard and a platinum Green500 award from the Mayor of London, in recognition of the carbon savings we have made. Tate is also ranked in the top quartile of the national Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. We received Change London’s best practice award in employee engagement for Tate’s annual staff ‘Green Week’ and hold a gold award at Tate Liverpool from the ;Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Tate is going beyond addressing our own environmental impacts, to challenge the accepted standards of practice within the galleries and museums sector. We are working with colleagues internationally to discuss and test new, energy efficient solutions for the display and storage of artworks. We have examined our art transport and exhibitions practice and are taking steps towards greater environmental sustainability, which can benefit the wider sector.

We also create opportunities for learning and dialogue on sustainability issues through exploring artistic practice. In 2010, Tate collaborated with the Royal Society to develop and host a Climate Change Symposium, ‘Rising to the Climate Challenge: Artists and Scientists Imagine Tomorrow’s World’. Contributing artists and scientists included Professor Brian Hoskins, Lucy Orta, Robert Bloomfield, Tomás Saraceno, Professor Steve Rayner, Agnes Denes and Professor Corrine Le Quéré. Tate has also worked in partnership with Cape Farewell to inspire debate on the sustainability agenda. The Great Green Sculpture Challenge at Tate Liverpool in 2009 and Tate St Ives Green Super Sunday in 2011 have highlighted environmental issues further through playful experiences. In 2012, theTate Britain Commission by Patrick Keiller and Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern explored sustainability in its fullest sense – the environmental, social and economic.

Our progress on sustainability is reported in our Annual Report.

Case studies

Sustainable exhibition practice

In 2011, we examined the environmental impact of the Tate Modern exhibition Gauguin: Maker of Myth (September 2010 – January 2011). The aim was to understand our progress on sustainability and to target areas for further improvement.

The exercise revealed several areas of good practice. Art shipments are consolidated as much as possible to minimise vehicle journeys. We tailor our transport arrangements to the works being moved, using road freight rather than air freight where possible, to reduce transport emissions. We have switched to paint with a lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content, reducing the environmental impact of the art crates that we use to transport objects. Our next steps are to develop a reuse network for art handling materials, to reduce waste to landfill further.

The study also highlighted the benefits of a reusable wall system in the exhibition, significantly reducing the amount of wood required and waste generated. We estimate that since 2009 this system has saved 4,696 m2 of MDF from landfill and over £80,000. As a result, reusable walling was installed in more gallery spaces at Tate Modern in 2012 and we are exploring its use at other Tate sites. Reuse of display materials, such as plinths and vitrines, is reducing natural resource consumption and waste within our exhibitions even further.

Tate and the wider sector can reduce its reliance on artificial, energy intensive lighting for exhibitions, which represents a significant proportion of our exhibition carbon footprint. As part of Phase 1 of the Tate Britain Millbank Project, Tate is testing passive design through using natural light in the south-east quadrant galleries from 2013. Energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is also being trialled in non-art areas at Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool, and we will explore the potential for LED lighting in our galleries.

Reducing our energy use

From 2007 to 2012, we have cut electricity use by 14% and gas consumption by 18%. This has saved over 2,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, enough to fill the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern 15 times! Tate’s progress in reducing energy use and associated carbon emissions is a reflection of the organisation-wide effort to embed sustainability across our operations.

Green Reps across Tate sites work together to identify and devise solutions for environmental improvement at a local level. We monitor and report our energy use to staff across Tate to demonstrate the impact of the energy saving changes we are making.

Staff from across Tate work closely to reduce the energy used to heat, cool and light our galleries, storage facilities and offices. We are investing in new air conditioning plant for our galleries, which, together with detailed energy metering and monitoring, is increasing the energy efficiency of these spaces. Centralised lighting control in galleries and movement sensor lighting in office areas ensure that lighting is only switched on when necessary.

In addition to reducing our energy demand, Tate is exploring ways to reduce our carbon footprint through renewable energy sources. The expanded Tate Modern will draw much of its energy needs from heat emitted by EDF Energy’s transformers in the adjoining operational switch house. Groundwater from boreholes will also provide heating and cooling for the new building. Maximising energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy is a key consideration within renovation and new building projects across Tate.

Cutting water use and waste to landfill

From 2008–12, we reduced waste across Tate by 33% – exceeding our targets. Tate Liverpool and Tate Modern have made considerable savings, reducing waste by over 40%. Overall recycling rates have also improved significantly. We are composting food waste from our cafés and restaurant at Tate Modern and green waste from our landscapes, diverting a valuable resource from landfill. Office and catering operations at Tate Britain and Tate Modern are landfill-free. Waste that cannot be recycled is sent to energy recovery facilities in the south-east, generating power for the National Grid.

Water use across Tate’s galleries has decreased by 38% from 2008–12. Significant reductions have been made across all galleries, including a saving of 57% at Tate Britain and a 26% reduction at Tate Modern. Low flow and sensor-controlled toilets and taps are ensuring that we minimise water use at these sites. More detailed metering of water use in our buildings is also helping us to identify and target further areas for improvement.

Other sustainability initiatives at Tate