Whether you own or rent your building, your organisation or community can seek to influence building management to improve energy efficiency and change day to day practice. This in turn will achieve greenhouse gas reductions as well as making financial savings.
Changing the day to day habits of those using and visiting your venue can have incremental but significant effects on energy use and awareness, and therefore visitor and community engagement is key in making long-term change.
Carrying out an energy audit will provide an overall picture of energy use in your building and highlight areas where waste and emissions can be reduced. Once this has been carried out, you can deal with various issues in a managed timeline with set targets and a schedule for actions.
An energy audit will typically include some of the following:
- measuring energy use (e.g. electricity, gas, oil)
- locating draughts and air leaks
- measuring water use and waste
- checking lighting and bulbs
- inspecting heating and cooling equipment
- checking the building’s insulation is adequate
Regularly check and monitor your energy usage and ensure monitoring equipment is well maintained to give accurate measurements. This will help you identify where there are areas of particularly high usage and indicate where savings can be made. Keep records of your data and measurements so you can come back to check targets and identify peaks in usage.
One of the most effective ways to reduce emissions associated with your building is to switch to a sustainable energy provider. Many energy suppliers will offer sustainable options and benefits. If you are a tenant and your landlord has control over your energy supplier, consider asking them to switch.
Consider changing all the lightbulbs in your building to LED bulbs. These are more energy efficient, are durable and have a longer life than regular bulbs. They are both carbon saving and require lower maintenance. You could also install motion sensor lighting in corridors, toilets and as many parts of your building that you can. This is particularly useful in a building that is open for long hours but may have periods of low traffic.
Power Down Policy
Save energy by implementing a policy that everything is turned off over night or when the last person leaves the building, unless it is essential that it is left on. Make sure everyone knows what is allowed to be left on by labelling switches and plug. Set photocopiers, computers and other equipment to power saver mode and remember to switch them off at the end of the day. Even if all appliances can’t be turned off, turn off the monitor and printer and avoid using screen savers.
Processing and transporting water is a major user of energy, and also highly carbon intensive. A dripping tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water a year! Consider running a water audit to ascertain where you can reduce consumption and waste, which will in turn minimise financial and environmental costs. Here are some suggestions:
- Regularly ensure all your taps are in full working order and consider putting in motion-sensor (PIR) taps, urinals and W.C.’s and, if relevant, low water shower heads.
- Motion-sensor toilets and urinals can ensure that they are only being flushed when necessary and in the case of urinals, not continually flushing overnight when not in use.
- Fix any dripping taps.
- If you’re washing up dishes by hand, fill the sink instead of running the tap constantly.
Waste and Recycling Facilities
It is a good idea to separate and recycle as much waste as possible, including compostables. This is in line with the Zero Waste Scotland Regulations:
“All organisations operating in Scotland, big and small, should be recycling their plastic, metal, glass, paper and card or risk a fine. Most food businesses will also have to recycle their food waste.” (Zero Waste Scotland Regulations, 2014)
How to manage waste:
- At every recycling point, make sure every option is available to ensure users aren’t tempted to put recyclables into general waste instead of finding the relevant bin. Perhaps use different coloured bis for each waste stream.
- Only ever place general waste bins next to recycle bins so users aren’t tempted to head straight to the general waste
- Always provide good signage with details of what goes in each bin to maximise good recycling.
If it is not possible to put in place a contractor, try and do this yourselves within your organisation and recycle at your nearest recycling depot. For food waste, you could partner with a local allotment or community garden scheme to add to their compost.
For compostable disposables, it is important to make sure your waste contractor and recycling systems are in line with one another. Compostable products such as Vegware are not regularly compostable and will need to be processed in designated facilities. If necessary, make sure compostable products like these are collected separately from regular food waste.
Heating and Cooling
Ensure areas aren’t being heated and cooled simultaneously, or that heating isn’t on at the same time as having windows or doors open.
Ensure thermostat settings are appropriate, perhaps setting air-conditioning to come on at a higher temperature and heating to come on at a lower temperature. There should be a comfortable ‘dead-zone’ where neither heating or cooling come on, saving carbon and money (usually 18-24 degrees Celsius). Set thermostats to different temperatures in different areas, so for example storerooms can be heated less than public spaces. Lower thermostat settings in summer and overnight (e.g. set heating in frost protection mode). Make sure thermostats are located away from draughts, direct sunlight or sources of heat.
Explore natural cooling as much as possible by opening doors and windows as early as possible to cool the venue and between performances where possible.
Provide information throughout your building about your heating and cooling processes so visitors and artists know how to help keep emissions low.
Check air-conditioning and heating filters regularly. Dirty filters can make your equipment work harder than it needs to and contribute to energy use.
Check your boiler’s efficiency rating. Consider switching to a high efficient/condenser boiler and convert oil boilers to gas. Service your boiler annually to ensure it is running efficiently.
Ensuring your building is well insulated and brought up to minimum standards is one of the biggest steps you can take towards reducing heating costs. There are also sometimes small grants and loans on offer to help you do this.
See the Energy Saving Trust for help and guidance on different insulation types, how to use them and how to finance them.
A Section for Tenants
Though you may not be in direct control of changes made to your building, you can lobby your landlord to think about these. Not adapting to the changing climate presents serious financial and reputation risk to landlords – they may be interested in the issue with these perspectives in mind.
One of the most meaningful things you can do to amplify your voice when lobbying for change and increasing your resource is form a Green Team.