2019 was a busy year for the National Theatre (NT) on the environmental front, a year which saw it publicly declaring a climate emergency. Behind the scenes, the National Theatre has been equally busy.
The team at the National Theatre go into granular detail on how much energy is being used, when, where and why across its sites, and uses this to inform its energy actions. Last year, its production team began looking at set construction materials; how much and what type are used, where are they sourced, what better environmental alternatives are available? As a result of this work it has begun using more sustainable materials and is now developing a sustainable production model. The NT also started evaluating the impact of its substantial UK and international touring programme.
Energy management for cultural buildings
On the buildings front, with support through Arts Council England’s Spotlight Programme, NT is setting energy and carbon reduction targets and developing its plans to achieve them. The programme also provides NT with opportunity for peer exchange and learning on energy management. One of their key upcoming projects is a feasibility investigation into using a ground water heat pump to heat and cool the main building, following the successful operation of a smaller one installed in the Max Rayne Centre in 2015. Andrea Bottaro, NT’s Project Engineer, is one of the key people behind the NT’s work on building energy monitoring and management. His efforts and achievements as a Green Champion were recognised during the Creative Green 2019 Awards.
Sustainable touring partnerships
This year, the National Theatre took a closer look at touring, reviewing current environmental practice and establishing the carbon footprints of its Macbeth and War Horse tours. This first step has helped identify options for future tours, developing a green rider for touring venues. As part of its focus on green touring, NT also participated in a workshop to share, exchange and explore good practice with the New Adventures, Sadler’s Wells and Norwich Theatre Royal sustainable touring consortium. The workshop was delivered under Arts Council England’s Accelerator programme on advancing sustainable practice and facilitated by Julie’s Bicycle.
Small changes make a big difference
Their latest introduction of own branded re-usable cups has saved on average 250,000 single-use plastic cups in just six months. This success has meant NT have achieved 75% of their commercial waste recycling target two years ahead of schedule, showing that small changes make a big difference. Accompanying their sustainable changes, has been the new staff environmental handbook to help further embed environmental sustainability and encourage everyday behaviour changes within the organisation.
All images courtesy of National Theatre