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Environmental sustainability at Ordnance Survey

As an organisation we've put measures in place to make a positive impact on environmental sustainability, and have big plans for a sustainable future.

OS is committed to being a sustainable organisation, by improving our products, internal processes, and the management of our supply chain, to ensure a positive impact on environmental sustainability.

Our ongoing commitment has awarded OS with ISO 14001 certification (certified by BSI under certificate number EMS 741488), which continues to encourage and inform towards continual improvement. We do so with our Environmental Management System, designed to ensure that good environmental practice is implemented by all employees within the company, and to meet the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard.

Our environmental sustainability principles

1. Transparent reporting on our resource use

We'll collect data and report on the energy, carbon, water, and waste we use and create, to make sure we’re accountable.

2. Engage our employees

Our people are our greatest resource in advancing sustainability, because of their know-how, expertise and passion.

3. Take responsibility for our footprint

We’ll use sustainable practices in managing our workforce operations, building facilities, and supply chain, to ensure we take responsibility for our actions.

4. Show customers how location can empower them

By understanding our customers, we can provide the geospatial solutions to achieve their sustainability goals.

5. Use our influence

We’re using our position as Britain’s national mapping service to showcase how geospatial information can empower any organisation or nation to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

6. Collaborate with other organisations

Recognising the complexity of environmental challenges requires collaboration; we form partnerships to deliver sustainable outcomes for our customers.

Below are three key areas – reducing emissions, biodiversity, and minimising waste – where OS has made significant effort in maximising our sustainable potential.


Carbon emissions

It has become more important than ever to reduce carbon emissions, and mitigate rising global temperatures, from both an environmental and responsible viewpoint. OS is committed to reducing its resource consumption and emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). As a Public Corporation, we are committed to achieving the government’s target to reach Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

OS HQ: Explorer House

To reduce emissions, there has been redesign work both inside and around our Explorer House head office. With funding received from the Government Property Agency (GPA), we have been able to deliver projects such as LED refit, Solar PV panel installation, and technology upgrades. Swapping to LED fittings helped see a 75% reduction in electricity for lighting, and our solar panels save approximately 36.5 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

We have transitioned to 100% renewable electricity, and to a green gas tariff, both of which significantly reduce our emissions from remaining utility usage.

Vehicle fleet

We have installed 34 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at Explorer House to support employees to make sustainable decisions, and to support our transitioning fleet. As of October 2023, we have more than 120 plug-in hybrid vehicles, and over 100 fully electric vehicles within our fleet.


Biodiversity relates to the variety of life on Earth. Manmade decisions can impact plants and animal species living in their natural environment, further impacting sustainability.

OS’s attention to biodiversity has seen significant changes to the grounds surrounding our head office.

Our Sustainability Action Team (SAT) sourced surveys of the Explorer House grounds in 2022, to inform a detailed and committed biodiversity strategy. We adopted new practices such as No Mow May and Let It Bloom June, as leaving our lawns wild encourages pollinating insects, helping bees gather more nectar.

Next steps will include development of a wildlife pond, and continued development of a grass management plan to create rich wildflower meadows. This will complement the bug hotels our volunteers have built in our rough meadow, and the bee holes and swift bricks we’ve installed in our acoustic walls; all to encourage the local flora and fauna, and ensure richer biodiversity at OS HQ.



Sustainability is at the core of what we do. Alongside our commitments to emissions reductions and biodiversity, OS is focused on reducing wastage wherever possible. We have reduced our printer fleet at Explorer House by 50% to save hire costs, and to reduce paper usage.

We have onboarded a new catering company, Blue Apple, who share our vision for sustainability by minimising the distance our food travels to Explorer House and by mitigating food waste through clever menu design. They have helped us to reduce single-use plastics by removing all plastic bottles for sale at Explorer House, replacing with cans, and in the case of water, a plant-based bottle. Switching to recyclable alternatives wherever possible ensures that fewer resources are going to landfill.

On a yearly basis, we deliver training programmes to all OS staff to help educate our colleagues in the importance and benefits of sustainable behaviours. This covers the 5 R’s of Recycling: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle. We have also transitioned to a new waste contractor, Veolia, who are aligned to our goals with their own ‘zero waste to landfill’ policy.