The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Sustainability Statement

The National Portrait Gallery is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations, and promoting sustainable working practices. Each individual department within the Gallery is continually reviewing ways to reduce the operations carbon footprint and improve sustainability.

For example:

  • Adopting best environmental practices.
  • Aiming to procure products and services to decrease environmental impact and improve sustainability.
  • Using ethically-sourced products.
  • Reducing or eliminating harmful chemicals released into the environment.
  • Finding solutions to reduce the usage of electricity, gas and water.
  • Aiming to recycle as much waste as possible.
  • Collaboration between other organisations to reduce energy consumption and materials used.

Reducing energy consumption

The National Portrait Gallery has up until this year taken forward a project to replace the old inefficient Tungsten halogen lighting within the display areas of the Gallery. We have purchased and installed in excess of 900 LED spot and flood lights which equates directly to 78Kwh of electricity in direct savings, the heat generated by these units is also a bonus, reducing the cooling load by approximately 42kw. The general lighting has also been remodelled using LED throughout the office and back room areas, which is a continuing process.

More effective controls enable savings on plant running costs and the National Portrait Gallery now uses 30% less electricity than it did 12 years ago.

More effective use of steam for control purposes has reduced gas consumption throughout the Gallery, while water savings through methods of reducing waste have produced a reduction in the operations water bills.

Recycling waste

Within the last 4 years the National Portrait Gallery has dramatically increased the proportion of waste that it recycles. We have introduced food recycling (Anaerobic digestion) where all food waste is treated and made into fertiliser.

Card, paper and plastic recycling has been actively promoted among staff and visitors.  All Gallery staff are encouraged to recycle, there are recycling points in all offices, kitchens and rest areas.

Visitors are also encouraged to recycle and there are recycling points to dispose of maps and display literature.

High temperature incineration (HTI) of non-recyclable items.  HTI at specialist treatment plants recycle the energy created during the process of incineration.  Energy produced is converted to electricity which is returned to the National grid.

On average the National Portrait Gallery creates the following waste and recycling figures over a 1 year period.

Total office and food waste produced.

28000 Kilos

Total office and food waste produced.

28000 Kilos

Food waste recycled

5000 Kilos

Recycled items (Card, paper and plastics)   

8000 Kilos

Waste to energy (HTI)

9000 Kilos


6000 Kilos

Trees saved


C02 Tonnes saved


KWH Energy produced from HTI


The Gallery has four bee-hives which were introduced in 2011 to the rooftop area of the office building.  Apart from the bees performing an invaluable service to nature and the environment, the Gallery harvests and sells honey in the Gallery shop.  All proceeds from the sale of honey return to the ongoing maintenance of the bees and their hives.

The future

The National Portrait Gallery will continue to find ways to reduce the use of energy and natural resources, plus increase recycling and investigate other areas where sustainability can be improved. 

November 2017