Environmental sustainability guidance

This guidance provides advice and ideas on dealing ensuring the environmental sustainability of National Lottery projects.


Our world is changing at a rapid pace. As a global society we are using up our finite resources and causing serious and lasting damage to our natural environment. There is also strong scientific evidence that shows that the climate is changing because of emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity. All the major models of global surface temperatures show a warming trend over the last century. In addition, recent decades have shown a clear pattern of change in weather patterns, which can be generalised as wetter winters, drier summers and an increased frequency of extreme and unpredictable weather, including heavy rain and storm events. These changes in climate are projected to continue and intensify through the present century, which will inevitably create challenges for the natural and built environment.

If we want future generations to be able to enjoy and benefit from our fantastic UK heritage then we need to make responsible environmental choices about how we care for it. We also need to understand and reduce the potentially negative impacts of the projects that we develop as well as seeking opportunities to make a positive impact.

Your Project

As a responsible funder, we expect all applicants to consider how they can make their projects more sustainable by increasing positive environmental impacts and reducing negative environmental impacts. You will therefore need to think about environmental sustainability and how you can embed this into your project from the beginning. We will offer guidance and advice to help you do this. You can also access further advice as well as practical support from Fit for the Future, an environmental sustainability network that we are working with to support people to make good decisions about integrating environmental measures into their projects.

While we expect all projects to include measures to reduce their environmental impact we recognise that the opportunities will vary from one project to the next, and so we will take a proportionate and pragmatic approach. For example, applicants applying to the £3-10k programme should think about simple steps such as making a commitment to minimising waste and using recycled or biodegradable materials. There might also be opportunities to encourage more visitors to make sustainable transport choices or to reduce their energy use. On the other hand, applicants developing large capital projects will be expected to take a much more focussed approach and to consider sustainability holistically and across a much broader range of issues.

As you start to think about how you will reduce the negative environmental impacts of your project you should also think about how you will monitor the measures that you have chosen to implement. We will ask you to identify and explain the steps that you are taking to increase positive environmental impacts and reduce negative impacts in your application and will use this information in our assessment and decision-making. We will also expect you to identify appropriate baselines or benchmarks and then set yourself targets so that you can assess how well you have achieved your environmental aims when you reach the end of your project. We recommend that you include information about your environmental aims and how you will measure them in your project plan, conservation management plan or management plan.

Setting targets

There are a number of tools that can help organisations to measure and monitor their environmental impact. Members of the Fit for the Future network are asked to submit an annual report that looks at a range of measures including energy use and travel. National Portfolio Organisations funded by ACE are required to submit similar reports using the tools developed by Julie’s Bicycle. These freely available Creative IG Tools are a set of carbon calculators designed specifically for the creative industries, though they are available for anyone to use. Other carbon footprinting tools are available, for example:

You could also think about setting yourself the goal of achieving an award or other type of recognition as part of your project. There are a range of environmental award schemes that you might consider, for example:

Whatever you chose to do it is important that you make sure that you can measure – and then celebrate – your achievements. We will also encourage you to share your successes and the lessons that you have learned through our Online Community and the Fit for the Future Network.

More information

Evidence and analysis of the challenges presented by climate change are summarised in the 2017 UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report. This can be accessed via the Committee on Climate Change website at https://www.theccc.org.uk/tackling-climate-change/preparing-for-climate-change/uk-climate-change-risk-assessment-2017/

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