Sustainability - Energy at Westonbirt

A wooden shed with two fans inside and trees behind
Sophie Nash, Forestry England

Westonbirt aims to make sure we use energy efficiently, investigate what is using our energy most, how we generate our own energy and ensure we look at where we get our energy from. 

First off with any sustainability work, we had to start with a baseline. We carried out audit with Aveico across all buildings, including third parties in 2021 to understand consumptions, areas to be reduce, and renewable options.


A wooden shed with two fans inside and trees behind
Sophie Nash, Forestry England

Did you know that Forestry England at Westonbirt used 158k kilowatts of electric (in 2022) - that's 8 houses worth!

So the first step is to use less energy, starting with little changes, such as:

  • Turning off the lights
  • Shutting doors
  • Turning the heating down in the building. 

We now have a rolling programme replacing all light bulbs with LEDs in all office buildings, which saves 70-90% more energy than regular light bulbs.

Then we look into how can we use our energy more efficiently. Currently, we have made the following changes:  

  • The main thing we have done is switched to a green energy tariff - both Forestry England and Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum buildings are on green tariffs.
  • Replaced all current lighting with LED alternatives, where applicable - complete. 
  • Virtualising servers - we are moving from a physical server to a cloud based server and doing a digital tidy up in the process - in hand. 
  • When constructing buildings , we aim to see that they sustainably built. For example, our Welcome Building is certified excellent by BREEAM - it includes air source heat pumps, low water consumption, it is fully insulated and has reflective glass. 
  • We have worked on draft exclusions in buildings - did you know that a 1cm gap in your doorways is the equivalent of missing a brick in your wall? 
  • Introduced lagging to the hot water and heating piping. 



A wooden building with wide open doors
Photo credit: Glen Howells

You may have seen our electric vehicle around site. When travelling for work or around site, staff are encouraged to use the electric pool car to keep emissions low. 

We also have an electric shuttle bus and are looking into alternatives for our other diesel vehicles. 

2 large silver tubes run along the ceiling and to a wall

The consultants also looked at where we could make use of renewable energy:

  • Our welcome building water and heating is powered by air source heat pump since 2014. 
  • Through our energy strategy, we are exploring solar PV panels and air source heat pumps on a number of buildings as we have a target to no longer use fossil fuels for heating eg oil.