Venues around the country face many similar opportunities and challenges when pursuing environmental initiatives at their facilities. See the Venues section for more information about creating an environmental policy, involving staff, identifying energy efficiency and generation opportunities, reducing water use, waste reduction and recycling, paper use, safer chemicals, and working with concessions and suppliers.
There are some aspects that are unique to venues facing temporary productions with transient casts and crews that can make integrating environmental initiatives at your venue more challenging. Consider the following suggestions to help engage touring productions in greening efforts at your venue.
Communicate in advance with incoming shows and personnel appearing at your venue about your environmental efforts at the venue. To formalize your environmental goals when booking shows, your venue can also consider including a green rider with production contracts that sets out requirements for greener conduct at your venues. A green rider can be as prescriptive or aspirational as your venue chooses. Consider implementing your own green rider based on the sample rider below. Also consult the Julie’s Bicycle Green Rider for Theatre Companies.
Sample green rider for venues
[Our venue] has made a commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of all aspects of our operations and promoting environmental stewardship to our staff and audiences. This document contains the minimal requirements for environmental practices by productions appearing at [our venue] Please consider the following venue requirements:
Backstage Recycling: [Our venue] has provided bins for plastics, metals, glass, paper, and cardboard boxes. Production cast and crew will separate these items for recycling.
Tour Bus Recycling: A “recycle runner” will make a daily trip out to the tour buses and collect any materials that can be recycled and place them in the bins backstage.
Office Recycling and Paper Use Reduction: Paper recycling bins are provided for production staff to separate paper for recycling. Printers are set to double-side printing as a default; please print all documents double-sided where feasible, and use digital communications to minimize printing.
Lighting and Electronics: [Our venue] uses energy-efficient light bulbs in dressing rooms, offices, and other backstage areas. Power strips are provided in dressing rooms to easily shut off electronics when not in use. Cast, crew, and venue staff will turn off all lights and power strips when not in use. All performance lighting should be powered down when stage areas are not in use.
Rechargeable Batteries: Touring productions are encouraged to use rechargeable batteries for microphones and other portable devices. [Our venue] will make recharging sleds available if needed.
Battery Recycling: Touring Sound/Electrics departments are given designated battery collection boxes; one box for used batteries that still have charge but can no longer be used for the show, and one box for dead batteries. Reusable batteries are donated to local schools or community programs or made available to local crew or touring company members to take and use for personal electronics. Dead batteries will be safely recycled with other electronic waste.
Lightbulb Recycling: [Our venue] collects used lightbulbs for recycling in [certain location]. Please place spent bulbs in proper receptacles.
Provide an orientation when visiting cast and crew arrive to introduce green practices and procedures. When giving personnel an initial tour of the space, point out recycling areas, power switches or strips for powering down electronics, water refilling stations, no idling policies, and other procedures in place at your venue. Communicate with the touring production team to make sure you are providing whatever the show needs to be able to integrate with your green practices. For instance:
- Make sure your venue has clear and visible signage throughout the building to make it easy for temporary users of the space to find recycling bins and instructions for other green procedures.
- Provide a collection space for battery recycling if the production doesn’t use rechargeable batteries. Offer recharging sleds if they use rechargeable batteries.
- Provide a collection space for light bulb and gel recycling and notify relevant staff members where items can be disposed.
- Consider providing reusable water bottles for cast and crew to use while they are in your venue instead of bottled water.
- Provide reusable food and beverage serviceware in green rooms instead of disposable items.
- Consider providing bicycles to production crew to travel within your venue’s grounds or around the area.
- Provide information about public transit options in the area.
Set recycling and reuse
When a production closes at your venue, there are many ways to keep the set, props, and costumes from ending up in a landfill. Find ways to sell, reuse, recycle, or donate set materials and costumes to local organizations.
- Sell or donate set pieces, props, and costumes to regional theatres.
- Offer items to production crew members or venue staff to reuse.
- Donate costumes or textiles to nonprofits or local charities. Visit Donation Drop Off for a national directory of donations centers, bins, sites, and thrift stores that accept donations.
- Donate salvaged set components and props to nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity ReStore or local organizations.
- Use websites like Craigslist or other materials exchange sites to find ways to sell or donate materials. Visit the EPA’s list of State-Specific Exchanges for a national directory of materials exchanges.
- Use Earth 911 to find local recycling options for different set components and costumes.
- Work with a local waste hauler to recycle set components. Discuss local hauler options with touring venues.
Examples of greener touring venues
The Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Upgraded lighting and controls, saving an estimated $53,000 per year on electricity bills and reducing emissions by 533 metric tons, with payback in under four years.
- Installed low-flow faucets in public restrooms to reduce faucet water use by 75 percent.
- Instituted green practices around the venue, such as adjusting thermostats, standardizing daytime temperatures for office spaces, turning off lights when not needed, and double-sided printing.
- Provide visiting artists and technical crews with reusable water bottles backstage and at off-site events, and worked with a sponsor to install filtered water bottle refilling stations.
- Redesigned their concessions program to reduce waste and increase local, organic and/or fair trade purchases from area restaurants and vendors; implemented a pilot food scrap collection program; and switched from soda cans to soda fountains with reusable cups to reduce waste and delivery needs.
- New recycling bins and signage throughout the venue campus to make it more convenient for patrons to recycle.
- Purchase non-toxic cleaning products, and FSC-certified tissue products.
- Promote greening efforts on their website.
Victoria Theatre Association, Dayton, Ohio
- With the help of the BGA, the Victoria Theatre Association partnered with Waste Management to launch a new recycling program for programs, glass, and plastics from concessions at their three venues, starting with the opening of “Wicked”’s three-week run in Dayton in 2012. Waste Management also provided staff training.
- Purchase green cleaning supplies and reusable cotton towels.
- All publications are printed on FSC-certified paper.
- Offer filtered water in backstage and office areas.
- Switched to rechargeable batteries.
- Educate patrons and visiting shows/artists about green practices in curtain speeches, e-newsletters, lobby video screens, and signage.
- Provide incentives for employees to participate in green initiatives by rewarding staffers with gift cards and BGA-branded reusable bags.
La Jolla Playhouse, University of CA San Diego
- Theatre features LED exterior lighting, theatre and house lighting and motion sensors on most office and stairwell lighting.
- Use Energy Star-rated washers, dryers, refrigerators throughout theatre.
- Working with Sanyo to install a solar PV system.
- Purchase recycled content bathroom tissue and green cleaning products.
- Use 30 percent recycled content office paper.
- Reduced paper use through paperless and print-at-home ticket options, digital signage, and reducing playbill purchases by 10 percent.
- Implemented an inkjet cartridge recycling program.
- Provide reusable kitchenware in break rooms instead of disposable cups, plates, and serviceware.
- Installed permeable pavers to reduce runoff.
- Landscape with drought-tolerant plants.
- Switched to rechargeable batteries.
Gerding Theatre at the Armory in Portland, OR
Home to Portland Center Stage Company, the venue was the first building listed on the National Register of Historic Places (originally constructed in 1891) to receive LEED Platinum in 2006. Features that earned the building LEED certification include:
- Reused the original building’s roof and shell (including brick, stone, wood trusses) for construction.
- Earned alternative transit credits for proximity to public transit, pedestrian access, and onsite bicycle racks and showers.
- Pervious pavers help filter stormwater onsite.
- Rainwater is captured from the roof in a 10,000-gallon underground cistern, which is used to flush toilets and urinals and reduces stormwater runoff.
- The combination of a rainwater harvesting system, lack of irrigation system, dual flush toilets, and low-flow showers and faucets reduce water use by 88 percent over code.
- Connected to district-chilled-water plant and uses chilled beams to cool the building (or hot water to heat building).
- Installed advanced glazing on windows, allowing for maximized daylighting and minimized heat loss and gain; skylights in administrative offices and lobbies provide natural light.
- Lighting throughout the building is controlled by photosensors, occupancy sensors, and dimmers.