Creating Environmental Policies: Lyric Hammersmith’s journey

Crative Green Lyric Hammersmith info

Written by Chrissy Angus, Head of Administration at the Lyric Hammersmith

For the Effective Environmental Policies in Action webinar, held in February 2019, Chrissy prepared these suggestions from her experience of putting an environmental policy into action at the Lyric Hammersmith, with the support of Julie’s Bicycle. To compliment this blog, the full webinar can be watched or listened to by following the link above.

I am a big advocate of sharing Policies and Procedures with other organisations to ensure best practise, but don’t forget that your policy and action plan should be specific to your space, audience and values – something that works for the Lyric won’t necessarily work for another arts organisation.

A few general tips

  • The specifics of the space will demand a sustainability policy that responds to this – there is no generic ‘off the shelf’ policy.
  • Ensure your Green Policy does not sits at odds with overriding governing documents such as your Business Plan as it will never get the buy-in of staff or the board and – crucially – you won’t be able to advocate it.
  • Consider your priorities carefully – remember you can’t do it all.

A Green Policy and action plan acts as a to-do list in many ways, and if it’s not considered reasonable within the scope of the building and the team around you, then it’s going to be very frustrating and very hard to implement.

Your Green Policy should ensure that each new person walking into an organisation has a solid understanding of the ‘environmental’ landscape of that particular organisation. In this way, writing a really good policy builds a legacy and helps those that will come after you.

The Green Policy must take each section of your building or of the sustainable practice and reflect these nuances – so you will need different teams to feed into it. It can’t possibly be written by one person.

The Lyric’s policy introduction

The introduction is where you can set your values and key environmental impacts (ours are energy, water, waste, travel and materials, for example). It also outlines our commitment, and lists how we will achieve our aims, namely how we will put our policy into action.

In terms of responsibility, our Policy includes sections for the following:

  • Responsibility and accountability:
    • Chair and Board of Trustees
    • Senior Manager(s)
    • Head of Administration (That’s me!)
    • Head of Lighting
    • Head of Building Operations
    • Green Team
    • Advisors and Partners
      • Julie’s Bicycle
      • London Theatre Consortium
    • Also… everyone

Planning and evaluating

This is where the action plan comes in – you want to make sure you have SMART targets, and can regularly reflect on your progress. We take our priorities from the climate around us and the actions held in the action plan are decided across the 3 year (now 4 year) NPO funding cycle, and each year these actions build on the last. For example, we recently introduced bees on our roof and following the success of our first #PlasticFreeLyric campaign last year, we have recently just launched a #FoodforThought staff and audience campaign.

Make sure you are collecting and tracking relevant data in order to paint the full picture – start with the data that is easily on hand, then build up from here. The broader set of data will be what you have in the first instance, but when you can, try to get more specific with your data – for example, monitoring half hourly energy data and accurate footfall counts. To dig deeper into environmental data and reporting, you might want to check out JB’s webinar on ‘Making your Data Meaningful‘.

Ongoing responsibilities

Make sure you consider the responsibilities for developing, approving and implementing your policy and action plan. Remember you can’t do it all – you’ll need to get buy in from the team that will actually help to deliver that objective. A project working style works for us at the Lyric – it’s not top down, but everyone owns this. Methods you can use to communicate your policy internally and externally:

  • Staff meetings – including dedicated, extended staff meetings
  • Board meetings
  • Audience campaigns – see our examples above
  • Think about where else it can be built into the fabric of the building?

Who holds and approves the related budget

At the Lyric, we have a very small budget for green stuff, which we have used for staff engagement, campaigns and reusable bottles. This last financial year, we made headway on creating a bigger green budget, taking a historic provision for gas bills that are no longer required, to create a budget to make larger sustainable improvements to the building across 2018-22 – for us, this might be solar panels.

Monitoring and reviewing progress

Use your Green Team to monitor progress to see what is and isn’t working – always look back at the policy and action plan as your guide. If something isn’t working, feel free to amend. What about those affected by your policy (e.g. management, operations staff, clients, funding organisations, supply chain and audience)? Well, make sure you embed the policy across everything, including everyone’s role and job descriptions where you can – so people have to care.

Make it fun!

Make it enjoyable, but accessible and achievable. Consider what you are adding to the organisation’s work that is fun, exciting and interesting rather than thinking of the policy in terms of reduction, limitations and concession.

I hope this helps and you enjoy putting it into practice!