Doing good and talking about it Greening the Wharf

Sydney Theatre Companys Greening the Wharf Project is a showcase project with regard to environmental measures in a theatre.

When taking over as artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), a not-for-profit organisation, in 2008, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton committed to plan and put into practice large-scale environmental measures for the theatre. Thus, the sustainability approach of the STC, that had comprised social and economic measures, was to be completed.
A two-year analytical phase resulted into five areas, in which measures were focussed in the following:
Comprehensive, organisation-wide measure for energy efficiency
Installation of Australias second largest photovoltaic plant
Best practice waste management as well as a recycling system
Integration of the reduce-reuse-recycle-approach into design and production of stage sets
Comprehensive reduction of water use
Installation of a rainwater collection system
Drafting a Green Design Policy aimed at sustainable production
Taking the issue of climate change into consideration when planning the programme
Comprehensive lobbying in industry and community as well as education
Stimulus and leadership for a sustainable district
In 2010 and 2011, these measures were put into practice through the Greening the Wharf Project. For the artistic directors, these measures go together with being involved in issues such as climate change on a programme level as well. Explicitly as a task for theatres:
"Climate change is the most pressing challenge facing the human race today. One of the roles of art is to imagine the future. To do this effectively it must be both visionary and practical. We believe Greening The Wharf not only delivers enormous practical outcomes for Sydney Theatre Company but offers a vision of how we might all creatively embrace the challenge and opportunities that Climate Change presents." (Source: http://greeningthewharf.com)
Putting the project into practice would not have been possible without external support. In form of a public private partnership, the STC teamed up with various players, such as governmental institutions, the University of New South Wales (www.unsw.edu.au), the solar company Suntech (eu.suntech-power.com) and the grid operator Ausgrid (www.ausgrid.com.au). The entire sum of investments amounts to AUSD 5.3 Mio, which was spent as follows:
The results achieved through the measures speak their own language. Based on the 2007 numbers, the results for 2011 are as follows:
Reduction of electricity from the grid: 36.1 %
Reduction of water usage: 52.1 %
Reduction of wood purchase: 38.1 %
Increase of recycling rate: 8.7 %
Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions: 29.4 %
Source: STC, Annual Report 2011, p. 23.
From the 2012 results a further reduction in water and electricity usage and therefore greenhouse gas emissions is expected. This is due to the fact that the solar panels and rainwater collection system will have run for an entire calendar year for the first time.
The internet page for Greening the Wharf includes a lot of material (mostly case studies and videos) and gives a good insight into the project, the measures conducted and the results achieved.
Not least Cate Blanchetts and Andrew Uptons popularity have caused a huge media response for the project. Thus, they have demonstrated to a large public how a theatre can position itself as a leader with regard to environmental and climate protection. In the future, the STC will continue its sustainability commitment with a focus on social measures.
After Cate Blanchetts departure from the STC, Andrew Upton has taken over as sole artistic director on January 1st, 2013.
Author: Annett Baumast, baumast. kultur & nachhaltigkeit, Lenzburg, Switzerland
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