The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Sustainability Targets

The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Sustainability Targets

Sent Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Things have not slowed down for the summer! I’m

getting ready for a workshop in Liverpool, and of course, preparing

for my wedding!

Finally, my new book, Sustainable Museums: Strategies for the 21st

Century, is now available in preview edition. If you purchase the

book during the Preview release, you can

*save over 20% on the published price (limited-time offer);

*access today – immediately – the initial chapters online in their

final draft – read, download or print out;

*receive a complimentary copy of the final paperback edition on


*receive each new chapter as soon as it’s available;

*provide feedback on the book’s content as it develops.


You can learn more about the book on our publisher’s website.



This month’s issue focuses on the Dos and Don’ts of Setting

Sustainability Targets. Read on to make sure you get it right!



To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums



Here’s what’s in this issue:


* The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Sustainability Targets

* Upcoming Events

* About Rachel Madan



Best wishes,


Rachel Madan


The Dos and Don’ts of Setting Sustainability Targets


Setting targets to measure your sustainability achievements is

important. In this edition, I want to help you avoid some of the

pitfalls of setting sustainability targets.


(1) Choose a target over which you have sufficient control. If you

cannot influence the factors that go into achieving your target, it

will be difficult to achieve. Particularly in the early part of

your sustainability journey, you should pick the targets over which

you have the most influence: for example, reducing paper or

electricity use, or cutting unnecessary staff travel. These can be

achieved through behavioural switches or the installation of new or

better technology. A target that requires a lot of engagement with

outside organisations or visitors can be much harder – though of

course not impossible – to influence and to measure, so should

perhaps be left until you have more experience in sustainability.


(2) Early on, set a target that has a good possibility of being

achieved. If you’re just getting started, it’s best to pick a

target in relation to which you have some ability to perform well;

good performance early on creates momentum. Conversely, if you set

a really aggressive target and don’t achieve it, you may find that

your staff can become de-motivated. A good starting point might be

an area that you haven’t looked at previously and that is easily

measurable, such as electricity use. For example, staff might leave

their computers on all the time; with metering electricity use is

easy to track. Choosing something that is very difficult to achieve

or measure when there is no momentum is likely to get people a

little bit annoyed and might cause them to disengage from the



(3) Finally, please don’t copy targets from other organizations.

Use them to inspire you, but make sure that what you’re doing is

relevant to your own organization. Sustainability is really not a

cookie- cutter process. Every museum is different. Even within the

same sector, every organization is different. The size is

different, the location is different, the people are different, the

operation is different; therefore the targets should be different

as well. A good idea is to look at broad categories for ideas. For

example, you may see that your peer institutions are reducing water

use and you can in turn look at your own water use. But simply

copying wholesale another museums’ targets isn’t a good idea and it

can in some cases set you up for failure.


Upcoming Events


Greener Museums – Image 1


Museums Association Conference and Exhibition

October 4-6, 2010, Manchester


I’ll be speaking on the panel, “Rip it up and start again:

sustainable displays and exhibitions”. This session looks at how

museums, curators, designers and contractors are responding to the

need to develop more sustainable exhibitions. You’ll hear insights

on how this can be achieved and be challenged to be more rigorous

in drawing up exhibition briefs. Find out about the display

materials, techniques and tools needed to develop sustainable