Environmental Policy

Out of Sync, Casasempeere at Somerset House

Image courtesy of Peter Macdiarmid



Somerset House Trust recognises both the imperative and the opportunity in responding to the global challenges of climate change and securing environmental sustainability acknowledging that rapid and urgent action is needed across all sectors of society. As a prominent and inter-disciplinary community of creative talent, Somerset House is well placed to influence the environmental agenda within the cultural community and wider society. We believe we have a role in demonstrating environmental leadership through championing best practice and amplifying creative responses that will facilitate a transition to an environmentally sustainable future. We are therefore committed to aligning our activities to the Paris Agreement - limiting global warming to no more than 2°C - whilst spearheading an original and ambitious artistic programme related to sustainability.


Somerset House Trust recognises that environmental sustainability is integral to the economic resilience and flourishing not only of our organisation but also the businesses which are resident onsite. We encourage a culture of resourcefulness, collaboration and innovation together creating a critical mass for environmental action. Our new experimental workspace - Somerset House Studios - offers a new platform for the development of creative projects pushing bold ideas and engaging with this and other urgent global issues.


In understanding that we need to lead our residents and visitors by example Somerset House Trust aims that our estate functions as efficiently and responsibly as possible, guaranteeing comfort as well as access to environmental services and amenities. Working with our community, Somerset House Trust is in prime position to contribute to the debate about new models of working and living, accelerating progressive modes of thinking aligned to our broader environmental goals. 




Our cultural programme including learning and outreach has already showcased a range of creative responses to environmental sustainability; notably our Utopia 2016 programme which encouraged different ways of seeing and thinking about our collective future. We believe in aligning Somerset House’s cultural programmes with a best practice, sustainable estate; ensuring that we encourage a dialogue with the community and audiences we serve. 


Somerset House Trust has invested significantly in the improvement and efficiency of its estate and has made substantial progress in improving its environmental performance with a range of operational initiatives, for example:

  • investing in a Combined, Cooling, Heat and Power plant (CCHP)
  • using natural ventilation for cooling instead of air-conditioning
  • installing LED/energy-efficient light fittings and lighting controls (timers, PIR sensors and photocells)
  • insulating our roof to minimise heat loss and excessive heat gain
  • updating building management controls to improve energy management
  • installing dual flush toilets to reduce water use
  • carrying out on-site waste segregation to increase recycling rates off-site




Our vision is to be a best-practice arts and cultural centre, with environmental, social and economic sustainability at the heart of what we do. Working together with our broader community, we want to not only minimise our environmental impact, but to productively add to and enhance our local environment and sense of place. We want to contribute to the conversation on local, national and international levels; whilst innovating, testing and championing models of environmental best practice.


Somerset House Trust is committed to wherever possible aligning our organisational goals to national and international climate change targets, as well as the ambitions of the Mayor of London’s climate change adaption and mitigation strategy.




Creating and hosting world-class culture, as well as more than 300 creative businesses, means that we are responsible for managing and reducing a significant environmental impact. Somerset House Trust is committed to action on the following environmental impact areas:


  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Business travel
  • Procurement and delivery management
  • Food and catering
  • Cultural programme and Events




In order to meet our vision, Somerset House Trust has agreed the following strategic aims to align itself to best practice environmental sustainability:


  1. Establish Somerset House Trust as a cultural leader on environmental sustainability
  2. Develop in-depth understanding of environmental impacts and performance over time and by activity
  3. Transform Somerset House into an example of best practice through green investment and adopting best practice estate management
  4. Engage and galvanize the Somerset House community in environmental action through campaigns, events and
  5. training opportunities
  6. Foster, connect and amplify the creativity, innovation and good environmental practice of the Somerset House community
  7. Inspire and engage visitors through cultural programmes and events addressing climate change and environmental sustainability
  8. Create, test and share innovative new models of environmentally-sustainable working and living.




To support us in achieving our seven strategic aims, we have developed a detailed environmental action plan, which will be managed by the Somerset House Environmental Steering Group (ESG). Our environmental impacts and carbon footprint will be reported annually, and our progress against our environmental aims and objectives will be communicated on a continuing basis both internally and externally.