Benefits of improving sustainability in this sector
Refurbishing arts buildings to make them more energy efficient not only reduces energy consumption and therefore, the harmful emissions generated during the energy production process but also reduces the associated operational costs.
The aim of sustainability is to rely as much as possible on renewable energy sources. From solar cells and passive heating and cooling systems, to water recycling and waste separation, there are numerous ways to reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
It’s equally important to consume any energy as efficiently as possible. Energy-efficient LEDs, for example, require far less electricity than traditional lighting methods. In a sector that relies heavily on lighting, it’s vital to reduce reliance on this type of energy consumption. With rising electricity, gas and oil prices, there is both an environmental and financial urgency to take action.
Refurbishing arts buildings to a good standard of sustainable design not only enables running costs to be reduced but also renders the internal environment more comfortable for its users. Thermal comfort is an important benefit. From draught-proofing doors to upgrading windows or installing high quality insulation, there are several ways to help retain heat and reduce the need for central heating. Smart heating systems can be installed to ensure heat is only generated at the appropriate time and in the ideal areas.
A sustainable building will also be well-ventilated. Several passive measures are used to effectively provide fresh air to shared arts spaces. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) is an advanced, low energy system which ensures constant internal temperatures. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s costume workshop is being developed to operate using both passive and MVHR to achieve thermal comfort and minimise energy consumption and costs.
Taking a holistic approach to refurbishment is the ideal way to implement sustainability measures. Acoustics design is an important factor for many arts buildings. From creating a noise-controlled environment to optimising the acoustic range in a theatre, sustainability refurbishments also incorporate designs to help improve the acoustics of the space.
The influence of the creative community
Many arts organisations are committed to environmental sustainability in all aspects of their work. From responsible procurement and recycling policies to encouraging the use of public transport, there are numerous ways in which arts organisations can improve their sustainability.
In addition to exploiting green construction processes and sustainable architecture, the new Tara Theatre boasts an active recycling policy which includes the reusing of sets. The Theatre also sells locally produced supplies in its bar and encourages theatregoers to select paperless tickets when purchasing.
The growing momentum to improve sustainability in art has come from individuals within the creative community, all eager to make a difference. While the arts sector may not be the largest contributor to carbon emissions, its ability to influence is extremely significant. With a wide reach, the creative community can use its skills to influence and show audiences and other organisations what is possible.