Sustainability: The Extra Mile

The jointly run Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres have existed since the 1800s and were both in need of major renovation.

The Context

The existing building was not supporting the Everyman's needs as a cultural community hub. It needed to be able to play host to a variety of activities including workshops, rehearsals, events, plays, and educational activities. Financial constraints prevented us from relocating to a new site, so the plan was to transform the existing site.

The Development

The OJEU tender instructions for the design team in 2007 included requirements for sustainable construction, low carbon design and sustainable use throughout the life of the building, embedding it as a central requirement alongside artistic and accessibility. 'Sustainability - The Extra Mile' was the overarching green heading.

We reaffirmed this commitment in the 2008 Feasibility Study with the aim to 'improve on the minimum statutory requirements and best practice'. With this in mind, we considered carbon balance, minimizing embodied energy, insulation and thermal performance, and air tightness, exploiting thermal mass, use of natural ventilation, recycling, water conservation and alternative energy sources. At this stage we already had a BREEAM rating of Very Good, so set a target to achieve a rating of 'Excellent'.

We completed Design Stage C in February 2010. This is where we developed a Sustainability and Environmental Strategy, and began assessing renewables and low to zero carbon technologies based on a balance of cost effectiveness, carbon savings, marketing image and technology risk.

We also extensively monitored external and internal temperatures in the old Everyman auditorium over an 18 month period, based on audience comfort levels.

After researching a rejecting biomass and wind turbines we found improvements to air source heat pump technology meant that this was now a viable method of heating the auditorium. It also brought the advantage that could run in reverse cycle so we could reduce auditorium temperature if it exceeded the 26° complaint temperature.

In 2010 we managed to achieve our BREEAM target rating of 'Excellent' .

Other Sustainable Highlights

  • Natural ventilation of all spaces
  • High thermal mass to store warmth and cool
  • Extensive use of recycled materials - GGBS concrete, bricks, cork/rubber floor coverings,
  • shuttering timber and iroko counters
  • High insulation standards and sun shading
  • CHP, condensing boiler and heat recovery systems
  • Water conservation strategies- rainwater harvesting, aerated taps, dual flush toilets, leak detection
  • and occupancy triggered shut-off valves
  • Low energy lighting including extensive use of LEDs
  • Comprehensive sub-metering and facility for adding voltage optimisation


We also transformed the in-house lighting system – changing from tungsten to LED as a proven reliable system that dimmed fully to zero became available. Choosing this technology meant a payback period of less than 10 years with ongoing significant carbon reduction (5 tonnes).

Bats, Bees and Bricks

The ecology of the site was also considered. Bats have historically nested on the site, and the demolition of the old building was largely by hand, to ensure they would not be harmed. This also maximised the amount of materials that could be recycled, including bricks for new building. 98.6% of the demolition materials were recycled.

The new building includes bat boxes and swift nesting boxes integrated into the brickwork below the chimneys and a bee colony has been established. We are hoping to have Everyman honey available next Summer.


Sustaining Creativity