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General News1st November 2021

COP26 – Climate change and The Historic Dockyard Chatham

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), is being hosted by the UK in Glasgow from 31 October until 12 November.

We will be reflecting on the sustainable practices already embedded within the Historic Dockyard, while following COP26 developments to find new ways to reduce and mitigate our environmental impact.  #OneStepGreener

Over the course of COP26 we’ll share how we are working for effective change whilst we develop our Environmental Impact Strategy. Find out more about COP26

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust’s plans to drive the agenda forwar

Our Environmental Impact Strategy will be ingrained within everything we do and will support the delivery of our core charitable objectives; Preservation, Education and Excellence. 

COP26 is an opportunity for our sector to take stock and share stories of successful sustainable practices for inspiration.  Critically, it is a moment to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and turn our attention to what we can now do to accelerate our efforts. 

As World Leaders strive to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, we look at how we as Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust can adopt sustainable practices across our 80-acre site.

Preservation of historic buildings

One of our core charitable objectives is to set the benchmark in maintaining excellence in the sympathetic preservation and use of The Historic Dockyard, its buildings, ships and collections through diverse re-use. Excellence in management of the heritage environment and building use remains essential in preserving the unique, award winning, historic character of the site.

To quote Carl Elefante:

The greenest building is the one that already exists‘.

By extending the lifecycle of our buildings, ships and heritage site, we meet the changing needs of our communities whilst reusing the embodied carbon within. Our capital projects such as building retrofit and refurbishments continue to implement cleaner technologies and energy efficient systems for improved energy performance to our existing buildings.

Existing low carbon projects include the final phases of replacing fluorescent bulbs in our 346 m long Ropery with LED lighting. We are also beginning to fit LED bulbs in our traditionally fluorescent lit street lamps.

The historic nature of our buildings has required huge investment in energy efficient upgrades, including energy efficient lighting, glazing and thermal insulation. The retrofit of our existing buildings to a more energy efficient standard, significantly reduces the energy required to heat and power our buildings.

The Fitted Rigging House project recently won The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) South East Sustainability Award 2021 for its £8.2m preservation project. Read more in our dedicated blog.

Clean energy

Our buildings are powered by 100 % renewable energy using a fuel mix of wind, bioenergy, photovoltaic and hydropower.

Visitor entrance at Chatham Historic Dockyard

Our Command of the Oceans gallery opened in 2018 is fitted with Photovoltaics helping to save on average of 8.5 tonnes of CO2e on this building alone each year.

Sustainable food choices for consumers 

We are continuing to review and reduce single use plastic by replacing them with alternative sustainable solutions. Within our catering outlets the takeaway cutlery, coffee cups and packaging are fully compostable, as well as food waste and back of house recycling. To support our visitors in making sustainable choices, a range of vegan and vegetarian options are available in both the Mess Deck and Wagon Stop outlets.


Within the Historic Dockyard are green spaces and gardens as well as established mature trees, flora and hedge borders that trace along the estate. Each of these green spaces and surrounding vegetation are meticulously cared for with an array of pollinating plants grown throughout the year to support our bee colonies and other insect pollinating populations.

The Dockyard apiary – a hive of activity

Our Estates team and dedicated Medway Norse work along with nature to restore and preserve natural ecosystems through additional tree planting, re-wilding and creating shelter and food provisions for wildlife (space, shelter, food).

Our ship keeping team collects off cut timber to build and install bird boxes across site for migrating birds to nest and protect their young.

Accelerating the global transition to clean energy

We are actively exploring alternative solutions to gas heating on site in the pursuit of clean energy and to eliminate reliance on gas heating.  In the interim, we have committed to purchasing Carbon Neutral Natural Gas with UN Backed certified credits to offset emissions.


Youth and public empowerment – elevating the voice of young people and demonstrating the critical role of public empowerment and education in climate action

A key aspect of our Environmental Impact Strategy is Education. The Dockyard has a longstanding, hands-on and tactile approach to formal and informal learning.

We want to empower and inspire youth to have an active role in climate change. One way we can achieve this is to develop and instil in our young leaners a lifelong relationship with the natural world. When we connect with natural environment, we are more likely to want to actively preserve and protect it.


Adaptation, Loss and Damage – delivering the practical solutions needed to adapt to climate impacts and address loss and damage.

With our coastal positioning by the River Medway, the Dockyard has a deep connection and affinity with this body of water, especially the impact of extreme weather, environmental degradation and rising sea levels.

Earlier this year, we volunteered with Living River Foundation, embarking on a Microplastic Survey of the River Medway to understand first-hand the impact of plastic in the River Medway – read blog here.

To mitigate damage to our River Medway, local businesses and organisations can help by signing the Towards Plastic Free Medway initiative pledging to eliminate at least three single use plastic items from their operations.








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