For WWT, a conservation charity with a vision of a world where healthy wetland nature thrives and enriches lives, sustainability means making the best of our resources while minimising our impacts on the environment and society.
At WWT, we ensure our work considers and minimises our impact on all natural resources, but particularly on water.
We will continue to develop practical and achievable ways of working to reduce our impact on natural resources. We will continue to focus on using water wisely across WWT and applying practical solutions to management of water that benefits wetlands. We will mitigate our climate change impacts and adapt our operations to a changing climate. We will seek to inspire and inform others.
When visiting our sites, you may be interested to know we have a number of different low carbon or renewable technologies in place spread across our centres including biomass (wood pellet) boilers, heat pumps (ground and air) for heating and cooling, a wind turbine, solar hot water heating and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
Welney Wetland Centre is a sustainable, award-winning, naturally ventilated visitor’s centre constructed from non-chemically treated timber and incorporating newspaper insulation.
In 2016, the refurbished London Wetland Centre theatre opened, now known as the Thames H2O (pictured on the right), incorporating a range of recycled and reclaimed materials including a lobby feature wall made out of reclaimed wood from a former Victorian factory and carpet made from recycled fishing nets.
We have programmes in place to replace older less efficient lighting with more efficient LED bulbs and lighting controls (timers and sensors) and improve insulations at our centres.
This has enabled us to reduce our building energy carbon footprint by 16% – a reduction of 260 tonnes - since 2013. Switching to biomass wood fuel pellets has also allowed us to significantly reduce the environmental risks associated with storing fuel on our sites - our heating oil use has fallen by 60% over the last 4 years.
We’ve also got a range of water saving devices and “working wetlands” across our sites, as you’d expect from a wetland conservation charity. These include rainwater harvesting (rain water collected from the roof and used to flush the toilets), composting toilets, low flush toilets, percussion taps and waterless urinals.
Steart Marshes in Somerset (pictured on the left) is itself a large working wetland. It is there to help people and wildlife to adapt to climate change, as well as being a natural buffer, providing protection to the newly created flood banks while absorbing tonnes of climate polluting carbon as it matures.
All of our sites include wetland treatment systems – using the natural functions of vegetation, soil, and organisms to treat different waste water streams. These enable our sites to operate in areas with no sewer connection while providing wider benefits including providing habitat creation and landscape features and reducing sludge disposal and transport impacts. They can also potentially lower carbon and other gas emissions through no or low aeration and pumping requirements, have low running costs and reduce chemical use.
We also have sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) in place at many of our centres. These mimic natural drainage systems and so reduce surface water flooding, improve water quality and enhance the amenity and biodiversity value of the environment rather than directly channelling rain water to the nearest river as fast as possible.
Many of our visitor centre buildings and hides incorporate green roofs. These create a habitat for wildlife, provide insulation, look great and can even help to lower urban air temperatures.