Venues & Theatres > Where to Start

Work With Other Venues

The Venues Committee of the Broadway Green Alliance is an excellent resource for learning how to operate a greener theatre. The committee meets regularly to discuss better practices to reduce environmental impacts at theatres, as well as challenges and experiences faced by theatre operators in the greening process. This committee includes representatives from every major Broadway venue and other large venues. It is the ideal forum to collaborate with other venues. The BGA also has an Off-Broadway Venues Committee for smaller venues.

Since the launch of the BGA, the Venues Committee has encouraged and implemented a number of major initiatives:

  • All Broadway marquee and roof signs have been converted from incandescents to CFLs or LED lighting – saving an estimated 700 tons of COs emissions each year.
  • Many venues now use water filtration systems and reusable bottles backstage, keeping tens of thousands of plastic water bottles out of the waste stream.
  • All member venues have recycling programs both backstage and front-of-house, and collect and responsibly recycle batteries and light bulbs.
  • The committee launched a bulk purchasing program, which allows members access to lower prices through aggregate buying of greener goods, including paper products and cleaning and office supplies.
  • In 2012, the Venues Committee and NRDC launched an energy benchmarking initiative to collect energy consumption data from theatres in order to calculate the carbon footprint of Broadway theatres.

Visit the BGA’s Venue Committee page for more information about venue initiatives or contact them through for more information about working with the committee.

Implementation — Fast Track Tips

Improving the sustainability of your operations takes time. This guide contains a range of suggestions and tools to improve your theatre’s environmental performance, but the most important thing is to simply get started. By implementing some of the ideas in this guide your organization can gradually improve operations and build support for additional improvements.

The suggestions outlined in this guide are diverse, and implementation strategies may vary. In some cases, these improvements will involve only minor adjustments. In others – such as encouraging recycling – improvements might involve more substantial adjustments. In all cases, however, there are certain steps that your organization can take to facilitate implementation of its environmental priorities.

  1. Establish an Organization-wide Environmental Policy – get everyone on board and involve people from different parts of your theatre staff
  2. Have an Energy Audit Performed – discuss cost-saving options with your utility, and cut energy waste
  3. Start Tracking Your Progress – measure your baseline and start tracking energy, water, waste, and paper use
  4. Change your Marquee Lightbulbs—convert exterior and ancillary lamps to energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs and cut energy use
  5. Start a Recycling Program – find ways to cut waste, put a recycling bin next to every trash can, and train staff
  6. Reduce Water Use – retrofit bathrooms with low-flow plumbing fixtures, consider waterless urinals, cut down on water used for irrigation
  7. Use Less and Better Paper – find ways to cut down on paper use, double-side copying, reduce the distribution of paper-based guides and buy recycled
  8. Donate Food – collect unused food for donation to local shelters
  9. Switch to Green Cleaning Products – in the laundry and bathroom
  10. Involve Your Supply Chain – ask your food vendors to work with you on environmentally preferable food and serviceware options and work with other vendors and sponsors on greening other aspects of your theatre

If your environmental program is already off and running, here are some ways to take your green program to the next level:

  1. Choose Green Energy – switch to renewable energy with your provider, install solar panels, and/or buy carbon offsets for energy use
  2. Establish a No-idling Policy – for vehicles in facility grounds, parking lots, or when loading or unloading in front of the theatre.
  3. Start a Theatre-wide Composting Program – ideally for both staff and theatre attendees
  4. Provide Functioning Water Fountains – and make them easier to find by using signage
  5. Use Only 100% Recycled Content Paper – to enhance your green brand
  6. Engage Your Audience in Your Environmental Program – put greener living tips on your website, post signage and make environmental announcements at shows, offer a theatre attendee public transit discount or carpool program, etc.

Environmental Policy [For Theatres and Administrative Offices]

Many corporations have established organization-wide environmental policies to define and advance their commitment to these values. An environmental policy sends a clear message to employees, vendors, and the community at large. It’s a meaningful first step in any effort to improve an organization’s environmental performance. Consider implementing your own environmental policy using the sample policy below. Also consult Julie’s Bicycle Environmental Policy and Action Guidelines for additional guidance on creating an environmental policy and action plan.

Sample Environmental Policy

Human activity can have harmful effects on ecological systems and public health by contributing to serious environmental concerns such as deforestation, global warming, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Recognizing this, [our organization] is committed to reducing our environmental footprint and promoting environmental stewardship at all levels of our organization. Our goal is to operate a world-class entertainment business and to provide an exciting experience for theatregoers while minimizing our organization’s impact on the environment and helping to preserve the ability of future generations to safely live and perform in our shared natural environment.

[Our organization] will strive to identify and purchase environmentally preferable supplies and services for all productions and events where economically feasible. Wherever possible, [our organization] will strive to minimize pollution and waste, conserve energy and water, protect habitats, support renewable energy resources, buy environmentally friendly products, and encourage environmentally preferable transportation.

These efforts will extend to contractor and supplier relationships, where [our organization] will encourage contractors and suppliers serving or otherwise acting on behalf of the organization to meet our standards of environmental performance.

Employee understanding and involvement is essential to the implementation of this environmental policy. All employees will receive a copy of this policy and be educated about our organization’s efforts to improve our environmental performance. Employees at all levels of the company will be involved in supporting our goals.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship is long-term. A healthy environment benefits everyone – employees, theatregoers, cast, crew, sponsors and the community at large.

Examples of Environmental Policies from the Theatrical Industry:

Examples of Corporate Environmental Policies:


Drafting an environmental policy sends a message to employees, cast, crew, other organizations, sponsors, and theatregoers that your organization considers environmentally intelligent practices an organizational priority. When a company adopts such a policy, it becomes easier to meet these goals.

Involving Staff

Involving staff members is essential to the success of any effort to enhance your organization’s environmental performance. Consider convening a staff meeting with NRDC personnel or sending a memo to all staff members informing them of your organization’s environmental goals. Also consider forming an eco-committee of interested staff members to help oversee and implement your organization’s efforts and to provide new ideas and feedback to relevant departments.

How to Form an Eco-Committee

Involving senior management is essential to the success of any organization’s greening effort, but it is not sufficient to only include senior management in environmental decision-making. When attempting to enhance environmental performance, companies should involve employees at all levels of the organization. One of the best ways to promote the participation of employees is to form an eco-committee composed of interested staff. An eco-committee can be a valuable component of your organization’s effort to enhance its environmental performance. It can be a source for new ideas and motivation and can serve as a link between upper management and individual departments.

Since all operations engender some type of environmental impact, and since often the employees in different areas of the organization have the best ideas about how to make environmental improvements in those areas, eco-committees should be made up of staff from all departments at various levels.  For example:

  • Involving facility operations staff is critical to ensure the maximum use of non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Involving production office employees is essential to ensure that procurement policies, office recycling, and paper reduction efforts are carried out.
  • The participation of upper management is necessary to ensure that sustainability is a priority throughout the organization.

An eco-committee should meet regularly to discuss progress, goals, and strategies. In addition, it should periodically provide updates to upper management. Feel free to excerpt the sample memo below, and review some of our other ideas for increasing staff involvement.

Sample Memo to Staff

I’m writing to let you know that [our organization] is launching an organization-wide effort to improve our environmental performance and facility operations. As you might know, our day-to-day operations, from energy and water use to the paper we purchase, can have a significant impact on the environment. By carefully focusing on reducing these impacts, we should be able to improve our organization’s efficiency and enhance our brand while helping the environment and our bottom line.

The strategic objectives of our Environmental Initiative will be:

      • Conserving, recycling, and purchasing ecologically superior paper
      • Energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy
      • Promoting recycling and waste reduction
      • Efficient water use
      • Using less toxic products
      • Reducing global warming pollution
      • Protecting biodiversity
      • Promoting audience and sponsor awareness and education

We’ll begin this effort by creating an Eco-Committee that includes representatives of various departments. The organization will lead a company-wide diagnosis of our current environmental performance and draft an Action Plan, complete with specific recommendations, for consideration by senior management. We will review the plan together, suggest changes or additions, and then begin implementation.

This is an important effort for the organization, not just because it can save us money, but especially because it can benefit the environment for future generations, including audiences, young performers, and professional actors. By reducing our own contribution to environmental problems we can be better corporate citizens.

I believe our environmental initiative will also enhance employee morale and provide community relations benefits. I hope that as we devise and implement our plan we will be able to foster an organization-wide commitment to environmentally intelligent practices of which we can all be proud.

In short, I hope our environmental initiative will benefit our organization on many fronts, and I hope you’ll join in this effort enthusiastically.

Ideas to involve staff:

  • Distribute branded reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, or shopping bags along with a memo or brochure explaining your organization’s initiative
  • Offer a monthly raffle or prizes for participation in your organization’s eco-committee, or for offering suggestions on how to improve environmental performance
  • Provide clear and very visible signs at recycling, printing, and food stations to promote compliance with the theatre’s eco-practices
  • Offer incentives or rewards for using alternate transit methods like biking, public transit, or carpools
  • Organize eco-committee social events to build interest and reward members

Vendor Contracts

Including environmental language in requests for proposals and contracts increases the likelihood that your organization’s procurement goals will be met by your vendors.

Consider incorporating the general language below into new contracts and requests for proposals. The EPA Purchasing Database is also an excellent source for specific product and service categories.

General Contract Language:

[Our organization] has adopted an environmental policy to improve our environmental performance. To further these goals, products and services contracted for by the organization will be evaluated in part based on their environmental attributes. Specific factors to be considered include:

      • Greenhouse gas emissions
      • Habitat impacts
      • Regulatory compliance
      • Recycled content
      • Energy efficiency
      • Water efficiency
      • Toxic chemical reduction

Please address these concerns when submitting your proposals.

Including language related to environmental concerns in contracts helps solidify your organization’s commitment to ecological progress and can lay the groundwork for positive vendor involvement in your environmental initiative. Every company that requests environmentally preferable products from its suppliers sends a signal that these kinds of requests are valued.

Environmentally intelligent contract language can incorporate a wide range of environmental objectives. There are many possibilities. For example:

    • A contract with an advertiser at a theatre could specify or encourage that all advertisements be printed on recycled paper.
    • A contract with a food delivery service could specify that it will use fuel-efficient vehicles and purchase carbon credits to offset total vehicle miles traveled.
    • A contract with a food vendor could include provisions for giving priority to local suppliers and for composting food waste.