This is a question both Paul and I face often when we explain what we do! But the question is often directed at the properties people visit. Social media is sharing a lot of what we do but we still have millions of people who visit properties who don’t have a clue of the amazing sustainability work happening under their noses. Our challenge is communicating with visitors about our amazing places but in a coherent joined up way. To this end it’s not a matter of chucking everything at people but showing, sharing, challanging, telling, explaining what makes a place special. Its layers of history, its current challenges, the way its managed, opportunities and this list goes on and this is the challenge. It’s not everything everywhere but the right thing in the right place (just like renewables!)
For example Chirk castle is a castle with 800 years of history that just happens to have one of the biggest biomass boilers in the National Trust. This second fact is secondary to the main significance about the site. Its a huge castle on a hill which has dominated its locality, Welsh politics, its land scape for such a long time that this is what people want to know. But you will if you look, find information about the sites sustainability credentials. But not in your face. Other properties such as Llanerchaeron in Mid Wales have sustainability in the heart of what they do. Its their ‘special’ feature going back to the estates inception as a self-sustaining estate that produced, generated and grew what it needed. Modern renewable energy fits hand in glove with the sites DNA and this fact is celebrated.
It’s a constant challenge to choose which messages take front of stage and which are supporting acts at National Trust properties. Long may this continue because we don’t want the whole thing to be the same. But sustainability is at the heart of what we do as an orgnaistaion. We want to hand these buildings and landscapes on to future generations and hopefully in better condition than when we got them