Despite the advance of sustainable practice and energy efficient techniques outside of the nuclear industry, at the start of the 21st Century there was a lack of published guidance aimed at their adoption at specifically nuclear facilities. Even with the establishment of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, there is very little guidance published on how to adopt sustainable practices during decommissioning. There have been instances where energy efficiency had affected design and operations decisions. Projects aimed at responsible housekeeping, switching off lights, and changes to the nuclear ventilation design philosophy illustrate a desire for action, but these activities were championed by interested and motivated employees. Sustainable practice had not at that time received a strategic lead that resulted in a management structure to enable a coordinated and concerted effort in sustainable practice. This paper traces the progress during the 20th and early 21st Centuries, whereby sustainable practice is now established within a much firmer foundation of case study, guidance and organisational structure; to embed sustainable practice within the United Kingdom’s current decommissioning programme. It looks at the development of relevant literature and, through interviews with key managers and external stakeholders, demonstrates (i) the degree to which two essential guidance documents (the NiCOP and CIRIA SD:SPUR) are permeating the industry, (ii) how the current work of the Characterisation and Clearance Group has evolved to influence the decontamination and dismantling planning procedures and (iii) the transition from identifying ‘free-release’ materials to actually releasing them for re-use in the community.

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