V&A publishes its sustainability strategy and 2035 net zero target

Image: V&A

The comprehensive strategy outlines action across the museum’s estate and operations as well as new considerations to raise climate change awareness among its audiences.

The V&A has today published a new sustainability strategy designed to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and estate, with a target to reach net zero emissions by 2035.

The ‘Place, People and Programme’ is a three-year plan of sustainability action, organised into three parts.

Firstly in its approach to reducing the environmental impact of its activities and the way it operates its buildings, secondly in its support for people, partners and sector to embed sustainable decision making and practices, and finally in its approach to engaging its audiences in climate issues to encourage positive action.

The museum said it will engage with its audiences directly via public programmes including exhibitions and will take actions on energy, water and materials, as well as procurement, climate resilience, biodiversity and air quality.

Within its strategy is a low carbon travel policy, which is hoped to bring down its travel carbon footprint by 30% by 2022. This policy includes object transport, business travel and employee commuting, as well as operational building performance targets for all construction projects.

The museum’s progress will be assessed through monitoring by the V&A’s Executive Board and Trustees, with results published annually.

Emissions categories

Scope 1: direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources a company controls or owns, such as combustion of gas in boilers and fuel in vehicles.
Scope 2: indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling.
Scope 3: indirect emissions from a company’s value chain, upstream and downstream emissions from activities that we do not directly control.

In line with the science and goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the V&A said it aims for a 63% absolute reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions across its estate, excluding purchased renewable energy supplies.

It reports its Scope 3 emissions for 2019/20 accounted for approximately 90% of its total carbon footprint. It said it is “working to obtain a greater understanding of our Scope 3 emissions, establish consistent monitoring, and set a reduction trajectory.”

Medusa by Sou Fujimoto and Tin Drum at the V&A

Its sustainability strategy has been led by V&A Sustainability Lead Sara Kassam, a newly created post appointed in Spring 2020.

“At this critical moment in the climate and biodiversity crisis, it is absolutely the responsibility of the V&A, in collaboration with others, to demonstrate the incredible potential of art and science to build a sustainable future for all,” said Kassam.

“Our research and commitments have been led by the words of William Morris who once wisely said, ‘we are only the trustees for those who come after us.”