As one of the country’s leading theatres, West Yorkshire Playhouse is aware of its impact on the environment, recognises our responsibility to operate in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner and is committed to achieving continual improvement of our environmental performance. We will achieve this by promoting sustainable working practises, both internally and externally, reducing our annual energy usage and by being committed to the principal to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Our approach to sustainable business practice is supported and endorsed by the Board and the theatre’s senior management team. The Environmental Policy and action plan are overseen by the Director of Commercial Operations & Customer Services on behalf of the Chief Executives. The Policy is communicated to employees at staff and heads of department meetings and in the Staff Handbook which is given to all new employees during their induction.
The people who will be responsible for implementing actions and delivering on objectives will be involved as much as possible in defining and tracking progress on the action plan. With this in mind, any employee may become part of the company’s Green Steering Group, although some posts because of the nature of their role will be a compulsory member of the group. The Green Steering Group will meet quarterly to review progress against the action plan, discuss new initiatives and current best practise within the industry.
The senior management team will then report progress and developments to the Board on an annual basis.
This environmental policy is endorsed by:
Robin Hawkes James Brining
Executive Director Artistic Director
Joint Chief Executives
In recent years a number of initiatives have been carried out to address environmental and sustainability issues. These have generally been introduced as they have offered cost saving opportunities or to ensure the company is compliant with stakeholder protocols. A number of ad hoc practices have also been introduced by individuals or departments, but these have not as yet been streamlined across the whole company.
Following the appointment of the Director of Commercial Operations & Customer Services, the Playhouse has adopted a more strategic approach to environmental issues. 2015 is seen as the year to reengage all staff with our Environmental Policy, review, update and standardise practises and set benchmarks for the coming years.
Whilst we are constantly aiming to reduce our environmental impact, we are aware that we are also significantly expanding our programme and this increased output may, in areas such as energy usage, conflict with our environmental ambitions.
Areas of significant environmental impact for the Playhouse are:
- Consumption of Resources
- Energy Usage and Carbon Missions
- Travel and Transport
- Waste Management
Each of these four areas will be assessed and an action plan detailing clear objectives will be produced with a view to minimise our environmental impact. Complying with environmental legislation is a minimum, we will consider ways in which practices in all areas could be improved. All objectives and targets set shall be, wherever possible, measurable and we will continue to monitor our activity and review our progress on a quarterly basis. In addition we will actively engage and participate in industry-wide and local initiatives around sustainability and promote this policy to our staff, artists and audiences.
We are also aware that excellent internal communication is required in order to keep sustainability at the top of our agenda, so as to encourage all staff to have ownership of the policy and to adopt general good practice.
KEY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
Consumption of Resources
As a producing venue constructing large-scale sets in-house, the creation and disposal of production scenery represents one of our largest environmental impacts and this is a key area which we must address. We endeavour to, whenever possible, use sustainable timber and recycle and reuse sets and props as a matter of course. We will also consider other materials used in the construction of sets and adopt suitable protocols for these.
Across the organisation staff are encouraged to be mindful of how they use office resources. Our priority is to reduce paper usage and, where possible, create shared digital filing systems. Our marketing strategy will include a reduction in printed materials and increased use of digital tools and social media.
We will endeavour to improve sustainability through our supply chain – it remains our aspiration to work with sustainable and environmentally responsible stakeholders. However, we oHrecognise the challenges in influencing external stakeholders and acknowledge the potential financial implications of applying a strict sustainable procurement policy. We aspire to use recycled, biodegradable or environmentally-friendly products whenever possible.
Energy Usage and Carbon Emissions
Energy prices and tariffs have risen significantly in recent years and are likely set to rise further; as part of the Playhouse’s continuing objective to establish a sustainable business model it needs to make savings and manage these costs, which for a building with the size and usage of the Playhouse are substantial.
Over recent years the Playhouse has undertaken a number of initiatives principally aimed at reducing costs; a study was undertaken by The Carbon Trust in 2009 and the principle findings were implemented with the assistance of a loan from the Trust. These initiatives included the replacement of light fittings with low energy bulbs throughout the building; fitting movement sensors to minimise energy use and skylights to make use of natural daylight in the workshops and fly tower; installing a voltage optimiser to reduce electricity consumption.
Energy usage is now monitored on a regular basis as standard and we are able to build up an accurate picture of our energy usage across the three buildings owned by the theatre. We will continue to work towards a reduction year-on-year until we have reached our minimum usage for business operations. We will also consider the use of renewable energy whenever possible.
Building systems and plant equipment will be managed and upgraded when required to ensure maximum energy efficiency and any new equipment purchased should have a high energy efficiency rating or be low energy. We will also start to monitor and record our water usage within the buildings.
Travel and Transport
Staff will be encouraged to use public transport, walk or cycle to and from work and whenever travelling for work purposes within Leeds. We will monitor this year-on-year. Likewise, communications to audiences via the website and Box Office will encourage people to travel to the theatre using public transport or by cycling.
Staff travelling within the UK for business purposes are encouraged to do so by train or coach. International travel for the company is currently less of an issue, however air miles will be logged and staff asked to use ground transportation whenever possible when travelling in Europe.
We must review current practises to ensure we are maximising recycling for production, office and kitchen waste. Following the appointment of the new Building Services Manager, we will carry out a survey of our waste output and a review our waste management contractors. This will be then reviewed on an annual basis. We will introduce new processes so that individual departments have more ownership and financial responsibility for waste management in their areas, starting with the Technical teams. Internal communication will be introduced to encourage staff, acting companies and visitors to reduce, reuse and recycle.
REPORTING AND COMMUNICATION
Through the work carried out with The Carbon Trust in 2009 we have already achieved a reduction in our buildings’ energy consumption over the last five years, and aim to continue this trend. Data collected for the financial year 2013/14 will form the baseline for understanding our company’s environmental impact across all areas. Further data collected from this year will inform our goals and targets for improvement for future years. Using data tools provided by Julie’s Bicycle we are able to log and report back on our statistics, this in turn is shared with the Arts Council as part of our NPO funding.
As well as engaging in nationwide industry initiatives, we will meet with our nearby peer organisations to discuss and share environmental practices, achievements and successes.
In order to engage our audiences with our commitment to sustainability and energy reduction we will use the theatre’s website as a means of communicating our dedication to a sustainable future, which will include a short statement of our intentions and goals. We will use social media to report successes and achievements throughout the year and explore other opportunities to promote this area of our work with the public.
In staff meetings, through the members of the Green Steering Group and via the staff intranet we will report back to staff on our achievements, promote ‘Green Tips’, best practice and a new ‘switch off campaign’. We will use signage around the backstage areas to promote this policy and inform visiting companies how they can support it whilst working at the Playhouse.