Louisa Pearson: ‘When work is representing the nation, air miles are going to be racked up’
THERE is only one question on my mind this weekend: how green is the Queen? As miles and miles of Union Jack bunting are pinned up across the land, should we be worrying about the environmental impact of the diamond jubilee celebrations or taking inspiration from Her Majesty’s determination to reduce one’s carbon footprint?
Before we get to the borehole that keeps Buckingham Palace’s wine cellar cool or the organic apple juice produced on the Sandringham estate, let’s start with the most glaring of eco sins. We commoners may be able to pledge to take public transport or cycle to work, but when work involves representing the nation in the furthest-flung corners of the empire, air miles are going to be racked up. Interestingly, a glance at the royal public finances reveals that “overseas tours are determined by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK trade and investment”. In other words, Her Majesty isn’t gallivanting, she is on official business.
Since 2007, the royal household has taken part in the Government Carbon Offsetting Facility, and in 2010/11, 3,338 tonnes of carbon were due to be offset at a cost of £39,000. I can’t get annoyed about this – think of all the goodwill she’s generating on those overseas trips. Then again, the progression of this train of thought is that she’s inspiring tourists to get on planes to visit our green and pleasant land, so let’s stop there.
If travel is a low point, what about one’s home and garden? Are the palaces switching to low-energy lightbulbs? Why yes, and so much more besides. Back in 1985, a computerised building management system was installed to control heating and power systems at Buckingham Palace. This makes sure everything is running at maximum efficiency. Of course it’s not easy retro-fitting an old house. In 1995, heat-resonance imaging was used in the palace and found most heat was being lost through windows and skylights. Some double-glazing was fitted but, as a grade-I listed building, everything needs to get checked with English Heritage first.
A borehole in the garden isn’t something many of us would consider, but this hole provides water to keep the finest vintages cool and also cools condenser units that supply air-conditioning to the Queen’s Gallery. Did I mention the small-scale hydro electric plant on the Balmoral estate or the one on the Thames, near Windsor Castle? Meanwhile, all old computers and printers at Buckingham Palace are recycled, ensuring nothing goes to landfill.
In the gardens, 99 per cent of green waste is recycled on site. Weed killer is no longer used on the paths; the gardens feature more than 300 types of wild flowers and the lawnmowers run on bio diesel. Buckingham Palace has an organic allotment, Balmoral’s woodlands are FSC-certified and the fruit and veg grown at Sandringham is organic. One imagines Prince Charles has helped make the monarchy more eco-friendly.
Her Majesty’s carbon footprint casts a long shadow, but within the her universe things are getting greener. Next time I see her re-wearing an outfit, I refuse to snipe along and will instead praise her rejection of fast fashion. Now, let the jubilee celebrations commence – just remember to reuse all that bunting.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West