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Green Certification, Accreditation, and Standardisation


A significant factor in museums becoming more sustainable is reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, their “carbon footprint”. There are many methods and tools to help museums do this. Including through the Museum Accreditation scheme, training, certification, and standardisation schemes. This guide highlights some of the options available to museums.

Green Tourism Scheme

Green Tourism is an awards certification programme that aims to recognise tourism businesses which have made a commitment to or actively working to becoming more sustainable. Their aim is to promote a greener, cleaner environment for people, places and our planet.

Green Tourism highlight five top reasons for joining: 

  • Green Tourism highlight five top reasons for joining:
  • Gain independent certification that’s respected by the customer
  • Achieve distinct market advantage to attract leisure or business spend
  • Build your brand with Green Tourism’s monthly campaigns
  • Stand out from competitors
  • Access bespoke action plan to improve and save costs.

They offer advice and guidance on issues including:

  • Reducing energy use
  • Saving water
  • Efficient & eco-friendly waste disposal
  • Ethical buying
  • Staying local & seasonal
  • Minimising food miles
  • Promoting biodiversity
  • Adopting a smart, sustainable outlook from top to bottom.

Different levels of certification are available. Progression is possible and encouraged to stimulate improvement in operations. Annual fees are associated with this scheme and are dependent on the size and type of your organisation. Museums are categorised in the “Visitor Attraction, Hostels and other Tourism Business” section. 

Further information can be found on the Green Tourism website.

Green Key

Green Key is an international voluntary organisation that award an eco-label to tourist organisations. Their work focuses on accommodation-based organisations but other attractions, including museums are included. To gain this certification, an organisation must demonstrate adherence to a set of criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

There is a lot of criteria needed for museums to gain Green Key certification. Some of these are labelled “Imperative”, which a museum must have. Others are optional “Guidelines” .

A summary of the areas of focus include:

  • Staff involvement
  • Environmental management
  • Guest information
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Washing & Cleaning
  • Food & Beverage
  • Waste
  • Administration
  • Indoor Environment
  • Green Areas
  • Green Activities
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Participating in the scheme for 2024 costs €750 annually. You are also required to cover the costs of your scheme audit in years one, two, and five.

Information about the application process can be found on the Green Key website.

Earth Check

Earth Check is a global organisation that focuses on certifying and advising the travel and tourism industry on sustainability and climate performance. Compared to other certification programs, Earth Check offers a broader range of services covering Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and sustainability issues. For museums interested in climate and sustainability, the key services are:

  • Decarbonisation and Resilience – Ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient to climate impacts.
  • Zero Waste – Strategies to minimize your organization’s waste production.
  • Climate Check – Assistance in developing a climate change strategy.
  • Earth Check Certified – A certification program based on your environmental impact.
  • Earth Check Evaluation – An entry-level program to assess an organization’s economic, social, and environmental impact.
  • Event Check – A service to help organize, manage, verify, and market events as sustainably as possible.

The costs for each service vary based on the organisation’s type and size. For accurate quotes, you can contact Earth Check directly through their website.


Recognised standards of environmental performance can help to improve your organisations sustainability efforts by aligning to set targets. These provide goals to aim for, internationally recognised certification and can help your organisation continuously improve and stay on top of its environmental impact

An organisation’s emissions are usually split into three areas:

  • Scope 1 – These are direct emissions from things the organisation controls, like on-site energy use and emissions from their own vehicles.
  • Scope 2 – These are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, or cooling used by the organisation.
  • Scope 3 – These are emissions from indirect actions related to the organisation’s operations, like supply chain, staff/volunteer travel, and anything else connected to the organisation but not directly controlled by it.
PAS 2060- Carbon Neutral Certification

PAS 2060 is the British Standards Institution (BSI) certification for carbon neutrality- for legitimate claims to be carbon neutral it’s expected an organisation is certified as PAS 2060. The term carbon neutral is defined as the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) produced by an organisation offset by carbon sinks and/or carbon credits.

It was set up in 2009 with the objective of increasing transparency of carbon neutrality claims by providing a common definition and recognised method of achieving carbon neutral status. There are several benchmarks and requirements that an organisation must reach to achieve this certification. These include:

  • Carbon footprint measurements include 100% of Scope 1 and Scope 2 and all Scope 3 emissions that contribute more than 1% of the total footprint
  • Develop a Carbon Management Plan containing a commitment to carbon neutrality and outline the timescale of reductions, specific targets, planned means of reduction and how residual emissions will be offset
  • Any emissions present at the end of a reduction period are by high-quality, certified carbon credits which must meet the following criteria:

    • From one of the PAS 2060 approved schemes such as the Gold Standard, UK Woodland Carbon Code or Verified Carbon Standard credits for offsetting
    • Genuinely additional- i.e., reductions that would not have happened anyway under a business-as-usual approach
    • Verified by an independent third party to ensure reductions are not temporary, displaced or double counted
  •  Access and buy International standards and regulatory info – British Standard Institute 
  • Carbon neutral certification – The Carbon Trust 

More information can be found at PAS 2060 – Carbon Neutrality Standard and Certification – British Standard Institute 

ISO 14000 series: Environmental Management

ISO (International Organisations for Standardization) 14000 are a series of International Standards for environmental management. The aim of the series is to help organisations minimise how their operations negatively impact the environment, comply with applicable laws, regulations and other environment based requests and to continually improve the previous two issues. 

ISO 14001

There are several different ISO’s in this series which may be of relevance to museums and their aims to become more sustainable, however the main one is ISO 14001. The most recent version was released in 2015 and is named “ISO 14001:2015”. This defines criteria for an environmental management system (EMS). It does not state requirements for environmental performance but rather maps out a framework that a company or organisation can follow to set up an effective EMS and focuses on areas such as procurement, storage, distribution etc with the aim of becoming more sustainable in day-to-day practices. If an organisation is following this standard, they can be certified as such.

An EMS such as ISO 14001 is comprised of the policies, processes, plans, practices and records that define the rules governing how an organisation interacts with the environment. Having one which is certified ISO 14001 demonstrates an adherence to an internationally recognised standard of sustainability and environmental care.

More information can be found on the ISO 14001:2015 webpage.