Helping to reduce carbon emissions from the region’s museums and galleries

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, which manages nine museums and galleries across Tyneside, is working to reduce its venues’ carbon emissions. Glenn Asher-Gordon, Information Governance Officer, explains how taking part in the ToNetZero programme has helped him to play a part in shaping the organisation’s net zero strategy.

What’s your involvement in helping Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums develop its net zero strategy?

I’m one of our organisation’s Green Champions and a member of the Environmental Working Group, which means that I contribute to our monthly staff newsletter and share best practice with colleagues and external partners.

I also support our Environmental Responsibility Lead, Jon Walker, in analysing and reporting on our energy use, as well as helping to develop our longer term policy and commitments.

What did you hope to gain from ToNetZero and did the programme live up to your expectations?

Before I joined the course I only knew the very basics of net zero and I wanted to increase my general understanding of the subject to help inform our longer term strategy.

ToNetZero surpassed my expectations! It’s been one of the most useful courses I can remember attending. The knowledge I have gained has helped me to categorise our impact on the environment into discrete areas and establish what our key priorities need to be.

Glenn Asher-Gordon, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

What were the most useful parts of the programme?

A whole range of things: the topics were varied, yet relevant; it was fantastic to get to hear from at least one expert speaker every single week; and there were lots of tools and links to further resources that were shared with us.

It was also really interesting to meet and hear from the other attendees from local businesses and organisations, who all had their own perspectives and challenges.

Can you give some examples of useful information that you learnt?

We learnt about key terminology, from ‘net zero’ itself, through to ‘carbon neutrality’, ‘greenwashing’, and ‘scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions’.

We also learnt about calculating a carbon footprint and tools to help us begin to do this. There were also plenty of case studies shared from companies who have low carbon operations.

Are there any small changes that you learnt about that organisations can make to reduce carbon emissions?

My number one suggestion for organisations who haven’t done this yet is to thoroughly and regularly review your gas and electricity use.

If you have data (particularly half-hourly readings), check to see what time your heating is coming on in the morning and going off at night – and whether your heating is coming on through the night due to drop in temperatures.

Make sure your settings match your opening hours and that they aren’t too high or too low – with utilities prices being so high at the moment, I think this can have the double advantage of reducing costs, as well as reducing impact on environment.

How will what you learnt be put to use?

We are going to be looking at reducing energy use in our buildings as much as possible, as well as inspiring change in visitors and advocating for carbon reduction, through messaging in our exhibition and events programmes.

In the future we will also look to reduce our impact on the environment through reviewing our processes around travel and transport, materials and waste, procurement and biodiversity.

Why should other people attend the ToNetZero programme?

I’d recommend this course to anyone who is at the start of their net zero journey, or for those who have started but are unsure where to go next, or would like to learn more.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Tamma Carel at Imvelo Ltd, who is one of the expert speakers and also our 1:1 consultant after the sessions. Tamma was invaluable in helping to inform and refine my thinking on the issues and challenges surrounding net zero and I feel a lot more knowledgeable and confident now, thanks to her advice and guidance.

If, like Glenn, you’re involved in helping your employer reduce carbon emissions, the ToNetZero programme could support you. Find out more and register here