Watts Gallery: It Takes A Village

With grade I and II listed arts and crafts buildings, Watts Gallery Artists Village, nestled into the Surrey Hills in an area of outstanding natural beauty, environmental awareness and responsibility, is deep rooted in the gallery’s ethos. They have had a big focus on energy, from improving insulation, window glazing and solar shading to installing new high efficiency boilers and LED lighting and using passive/low energy ventilation. The venue is also supplied by on-site renewable energy via ground-source heat pumps and a solar-thermal hot water system.

Energy management is just the beginning

The success of energy reduction measures has led to the gallery turning efforts to water and waste management as well. The gallery has been recycling rainwater for over a hundred years, harvested via an underground cistern, for use in maintaining their gardens and woodlands. This practise has now inspired the ways water is used and procured on the ground, forwarding to the development of wastewater recycling. They now recycle wastewater via an on-site sewage recycling system and have installed water-efficient kitchen devices which has successfully reduced water use in their kitchens by 50%. Not only thinking about waste, but how waste translates to secondary impacts, is a reflection in the behaviour changes within the gallery. Not only is waste recycled, they have sourced a recycling company that shares and is committed to their environmental outlook.

Prioritising local sustainable materials

Owing to the surrounding natural beauty, sustainable materials have been procured and used both internally and externally, ranging from clay roof tiles and Forestry Stewardship Council certified timber, to sheep wool thermal insulation and natural oil and water-based paints and varnishes.

watts cemetery chapel interior decoration
Image: Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village

The grounds have made well for allotment produce and compostable serve ware are provided in the tea shop. Making small changes like replacing plastic with paper bags in their shop, in collaboration with Art Fund, has saved over 100,000 plastic bags so far. Weaving in environmentally friendly alternatives has shown small changes make huge differences.

The programme has supported Watts Gallery Trust thus far by providing us with key tools to develop best practice, particularly in reporting requirements. The one-to-one support received from Julie’s Bicycle under Arts Council England’s Environmental Programme contributed considerably to the development of the Trust’s environmental policy and action plan which is now in place, as well as assisting in the reporting of site emissions.

Watts Gallery Trust, Surrey

Images courtesy of Watts Gallery Trust

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