Looking after the
places in our care
Looking after what we already own on behalf of the nation
We are making good, measurable progress against our primary initial environmental indicator: energy use and generation
Our conservation assets
Our first responsibility is looking after what we already own on behalf of the nation – conserving what makes them significant for our own and future generations to enjoy. Our Conservation Performance Indicator (CPI) identifies and ranks the conservation significances of our properties, establishing measurable objectives for them and assessing progress against those objectives each year.
The CPI tells us whether our overall conservation performance is improving or declining and enables us to monitor trends against a range of asset categories. Our principal performance measure is the percentage of properties with a CPI score that is either maintained or improved compared with the previous year.
Each year we produce a CPI national report which summarises performance across the Trust. This shows that 2016 was a good year for conservation in the Trust. For the first time every region met or exceeded our KPI target of 85% of properties achieving a static or improved score. Our overall score was 87%, demonstrating a continuing positive trend.
Gardens and parks performed particularly well, with 94% showing a static or improved score. The reasons for this are improved plant health care standards, better replanting and repairs, and good conservation management planning. Our celebration of ‘Capability’ Brown’s tercentenary also helped, as has our increased investment in gardens consultants, now with one in every region and country.
Our buildings performed least well, with 84% showing a static or improved score. Our backlog of repairs is one reason for this, but the reviews do show that our major programme of investment in our residential let estate and our major building projects are producing good results. These include Knole in Kent where we opened the Gatehouse Tower, the first domestic area to go on show at Knole, and our refurbished and extended Brewhouse Café, both providing views across the seventeenth-century parkland, and at Dyrham Park near Bath where we completed our project to re-roof the property and protect its collection. Our score of 84% is up on the previous two years, when we scored 81%. However, there remains much to do with our massive built estate constantly exposed to forces of change and decay, with cyclical expenditure being the key to preventing backlog recurring.
Last year we assessed whether increasing visitor numbers were having an adverse effect on conservation condition. There were some instances of this, but it was not widespread. There were also good examples of the beneficial use of our Conservation for Access guidance for properties – helping property staff to identify, monitor and remedy potential damage. This is likely to be an increasingly important area.
Reducing our environmental impact
‘What we do to the land, we do to ourselves’, wrote Wendell Berry, American poet, writer and environmentalist. Land – with all the natural services it provides for us – is in fixed supply. Yet the demands that society, all of us, are placing on it are growing exponentially. Food, energy, water, buildings and transport are amongst some of the most basic of human needs. Somehow, between us all, we must find sustainable ways of providing them. This means limiting unnecessary consumption, avoiding waste, and harvesting our natural assets, not mining them. We need to live off the interest of our natural capital, not deplete the capital itself. Adopting an environmental management system (EMS) enables us to make well-informed choices as we go about our day-to-day activities. Reducing the amount of energy we use even though our properties are getting busier; generating more energy from renewable non-fossil sources; ending or reducing oil as a form of heating at our mansions and avoiding the risk of oil-spill pollution; and measuring our water consumption, waste production and business miles travelled to help manage our reduction of all of them. All are helped by our Green Dragon8 accredited environmental management system.
Felbrigg Hall provides a good example of the progress being made across the Trust. The property now has a greener heating system, following the installation of a biomass boiler that will be fueled from wood chip, sustainably harvested from this National Trust estate. The new boiler, which replaces five oil fired boilers and current electric heaters, will save us around £11,000 a year in fuel costs as well as creating an income of over £4,000 a year for 20 years from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, funds that can be reinvested in conservation projects.
We are making good, measurable progress against our primary initial environmental indicator: energy use and generation. We are on course to achieve our target, against a 2009 baseline of an 11% reduction by March 2018 and a 20% reduction by 2020/21. In 2016/17 we achieved an 8% reduction in our energy consumption despite significant growth in visitor numbers/opening hours and higher energy demand since our baseline year. We produced nearly a third of our heating through renewable energy, and we are on target to generate 50% of our energy use from our renewable energy sources by 2020/21.