It is essential to operate the Royal Households like a business: standards do clearly have to be maintained but expenses must be justified. While cynics might perceive otherwise, the public purse used to maintain the Palaces is certainly not a bottomless pit!
And so too, like any other business, the Royal Households must consider how they can operate more sustainably. Reducing energy consumption for example can play a significant role in reducing expenses.
The Royal Households, as part of their own approved good practice energy management strategies, continue to operate a number of effective policies. These can include simple no cost policies such as turning lights, heating and equipment off in unused rooms, a starting point for all businesses!
But more recently they have embarked upon a series of larger energy-saving projects:
Prince Charles has had solar panels installed at Kensington Palace.
In September, Windsor Castle took delivery of two giant hydroelectric turbines in the hope that they will sustainably power the majority, if not all, of that royal residence.
Buckingham Palace is a 300-year-old building and yet the implementation of energy efficient lighting and CHP units (combined heat and power), have helped the historic building attain a C-rating Energy Performance Certificate – extremely impressive for a building of that age. Using smart meters throughout the estate has helped identify areas to be targeted and ensure continued efficiencies in energy usage. In addition, the mechanical plant rooms at Buckingham Palace have been upgraded resulting in saved gas consumption and reduced maintenance costs.
It is important to note that English Heritage believes special considerations must be applied to older buildings and are researching a more appropriate means of energy testing for older housing stock. Care must be taken, they insist, when considering these older buildings that a standardised approach does not result in disproportionate costs and inefficiencies.
But sustainability issues are not just limited to energy usage. The Royal Households are particularly good at ensuring the palace grounds are environmentally friendly including providing natural habitats for flora and fauna. Simple policies such as retaining 10% long grass and allowing tree stumps to rot naturally can make a big difference.
No doubt a lot more can be done to increase sustainability and carbon saving measures in the Royal Households but a good start has been made – and a good example set.