BAC is part of the London Theatre Consortium (LTC) which consists of twelve producing theatres across London. The LTC made a three-year commitment in 2010 to address their environmental impacts, becoming in the process exemplars of a collaborative approach to sustainable business. This was achieved in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle, a non-profit company providing expertise in environmental sustainability to over 1000 arts organisations in the UK and internationally.
This working partnership between the LTC and Julie's Bicycle presents opportunities to address environmental sustainability by sharing knowledge, issues and experience, testing alternatives to standard practice, and exploring joint procurement of goods and services such as energy efficient equipment.
To recognise this work, Julie's Bicycle has developed an environmental certification scheme for festivals, venues, offices and CD packaging: Industry Green. Industry Green (IG) provides an audit report of environmental performance, covering energy, waste, water and travel, and an IG certification of 1 to 3 stars to show staff, suppliers, artists and audiences that the organisation is committed to going green. Certification indicates that we:
In the 2010/2011 year, Battersea Arts Centre was awarded 1 star, and in 2011/2012 was awarded 2 stars. For the 2012/13 year, we achieved our goal of a full 3 star rating, in recognition of our strong commitment to managing our carbon and improving its environmental impacts (certificate here). This assessment excludes the emissions deriving from: waste to landfill; business travel; tour logistics and artist travel; staff commuting; and catering, concessions and merchandise. You can view our IG report and future recommendations for further actions here.
What are we doing?
As part of our Capital Project, we are examining our reliance on fossil fuel energy and water use, and the impact this has on our environment and community. We are working with consultants, energy industry professionals, our architects, and staff, artists and building users to build a plan for the major changes needed to our heating system and electricity infrastructure to reduce our carbon footprint.
When the Old Town Hall was constructed in 1893, it was not connected to electricity, which hadn't extended far enough up Lavender Hill, so the whole building was heated through warm air vents, with heat and lighting provided by gas. One old gas lamp still exists in an office corridor as a reminder of this age. Cooling was achieved by opening windows and roof vents.
In many ways, we still operate on that basis for much of the summer months, and use no mechanical air-conditioning, but the winter can be less forgiving. We are working hard to make more use of spaces that are efficiently heated, and aim to target our energy use to where it's most effective and needed. In public spaces you'll find wood burning stoves and a blanket box, to provide those more homely comforts, and this winter we'll be unveiling new efficient radiators and under-floor heating in our cafe. Whilst we're still working on the long-term plan, we're doing our best to control other forms of heating, like using timers and thermostats, and targeted radiant heaters.
We have a beautiful new set of doors in our foyer, ready to keep out the winter chill, and have replaced public lighting with ultra-low-power dimmable LED fittings, have a stock of LED theatrical lighting, regularly monitor our energy consumption and room temperatures, use a low-power espresso machine for our cafe, motion sensors on lighting, monitor our printing and copying, use a waste provider who sends nothing to landfill, and include energy efficiency as a key factor in procurement.
We have several key areas and projects within the organisation which focus on environmental impact and sustainability as a major issue.
What about the smaller stuff?
Every member of staff is encouraged to consider how we can reduce our impact and cut costs – and every penny saved on energy or waste means more can go towards inventing the future of theatre.
We try our best to switch off non-vital lighting and appliances when they're not needed, recycle/re-use as much as possible, purchase recycled products, use local suppliers for our café to cut down on food miles, commit to public transport, walking or cycling, and encourage all suppliers, artists, hirers and contractors to do the same.
Overall, our aim can be summed up (in decreasing order of preference) as:
Battersea Arts Centre's Environmental Policy can be viewed here.