Here at the Edinburgh Garden a team of staff from across the organisation are getting ready for our second assessment for a Green Tourism award in July. In May 2014 we were given a Silver award and we are going for Gold this time.
Green Tourism is an award scheme which operates worldwide but which originated and is based in Scotland. Any public facing organisation, attraction or business with visitors and a tourism remit can join the scheme. The logo (right) can be found displayed on many visitor attractions: museums, galleries, gardens, shops, theatres, and hotels. It symbolises that these places have reached certain standards of management of their environmental impacts. The assessors at Green Tourism will be looking at how we run the buildings and garden: Do we use low energy lighting? How efficient are our boilers? Do we recycle our rubbish? They are also keen to see whether we involve the visitors in green issues: Do we encourage them to recycle their rubbish? How easy is it to get here by bus? How can they find out more about planting trees?
As a botanic garden with a strong reputation for offering excellent education and community engagement programmes we feel that almost everything we do is ‘Green’; We encourage everyone to value the natural world just by walking through our gates. However, there is a team of core staff drawn from a range of departments who are gathering the documents and evidence which demonstrate how we fulfil the criteria set out by Green Tourism. This evidence shows how we manage, measure and work to reduce the environmental impacts that the Garden with its 250 staff, many students and volunteers and over 800,000 visitors has on the local and wider environment. All this evidence is loaded up on to our internal communication system, known as Green Pages, and the assessor will be given access to this for a suitable period of time. Most importantly he will want see for himself how we do this, so he will be met a by a selection of staff who are involved in all of this wide-ranging activity and who will be able to show him what we do.
What are we doing and how are we doing it? With such a large site and so many different professions under one roof, so many activities and even more visitors and going on it is a long list, but here are some examples:
• A group of staff monitor and record the bird and insect life in the garden every day
• The Horticulture Department tie their work programmes in to these bird and insect records so that they don’t disturb important wildlife
• When school groups come to the garden they learn about how they can recycle and grow their own plants
• LED energy efficient lighting has been purchased and is being installed in a rolling programme around the main buildings
• Automated smart meters are being installed for close monitoring of all the water, electricity and gas used at Edinburgh
• New glasshouses in the Nursery have renewable energy technologies installed: solar panels and air source heat pumps
• The Botanics Cottage has solar panels installed which are feeding electricity into the national grid
• The Alpine House has a rainwater harvesting tank installed under the ground and the water collected is used for the plants rather than using mains water
• Staff are able to buy bicycles on a salary sacrifice scheme to encourage cycling to work
• All printer paper used in the offices is 100% recycled
• We have waste bins for paper, plastics, glass and cans as well as general waste and it is all taken away and sifted again to maximise the recycling potential of our waste
• All plant material waste is composted and returned to the garden to improve the soil and plant growth
We are looking forward to showing off our green credentials to Green Tourism later in the summer, meanwhile if you work or study here please switch the lights off as you leave an empty room and only print out if you really need to. If you are visiting our lovely garden please use the recycling bins according to the labels and plant something when you get home.
More information about the Green Tourism scheme can be found on their website: http://www.green-tourism.com/
More information about environmental responsibility at RBGE can be found on the RBGE website: