Marwell first calculated their carbon footprint in 2008, when it was measured at 1,706 tonnes – the majority of that resulting from electricity use. Over the past 10 years, they have been on a journey to become carbon neutral, by implementing lots of different initiatives. One of the biggest improvements has been adding solar arrays to as many south-facing roofs as possible and designing new buildings to maximise the amount of space available for solar panels. In partnership with Winchester City Council, they also install panels that enabled Marwell to purchase electricity from the council at a 20% discounted rate, saving the zoo £4,500 in energy bills annually.
Marwell hit their target of becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2022 – their 50th anniversary year! Since then, they have set their sights higher and are closing in on a new goal of having a 'net positive' carbon balance, meaning Marwell (the estate which includes the zoo) will remove more carbon dioxide from the air than is emitted by the overall estate and their supply chain.
Restoring the semi-natural ancient woodland around the zoo estate plays a critical role. The trees in the surrounding woods, fields and the zoo itself, as well as grassland, now absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than the carbon footprint of the Marwell estate. The next step for Marwell is to help reduce emissions in their supply chain and then to absorb all the remaining supply chain emissions!
It doesn't stop at having a positive impact on overall carbon emissions across their entire operations and supply chain. Marwell’s ambition is to become a net positive organisation and have a net positive impact socially, environmentally and economically.
Useful learnings from Marwell
A net positive organisation is one whose actions contribute to recovering habitats and ecosystems, support the wellbeing of the people and communities in its supply chain whilst continuing to invest in its own product, staff and local community. To achieve this, Marwell is looking not just at the impacts of what they do but also the unintended consequences for people and the planet. This includes Marwell Zoo, their conservation activities, the impacts of their supply chain and their influence on guests, businesses, other zoos, governments, and anyone else they come into contact with.
One of the ways that Marwell communicates their environmental ambitions to zoo guests is through immersive displays in the science gallery in their sustainable ‘Energy for Life’ Tropical House. Here, guests can explore the impacts of climate change, discover the ways Marwell is lowering their carbon emissions, and learn what they can do themselves.
Increases in carbon absorbed from the atmosphere on the estate.
Community and wider stakeholder engagement.
Positive social and economic impacts for people to reduce further pressure on nature.