Glasgow Film Theatre

GFT is the first cinema to be Industry Green certified, achieving a two star certification in June 2012. Sustainability is high on the agenda with green initiatives well underway both in the office, venue and through events engaging audiences directly.

Since 1976, Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) has been serving up specialised cinema experiences to Glasgow’s film lovers, from contemporary art house and world cinema cinema to late night cult screenings and from classics back on the big screen to independent documentaries. GFT also curates the Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Youth Film Festival and an annual UK Green Film Festival, as well as coordinating a Learning programme.

GFT is the first cinema to be Industry Green certified, achieving a 2 star certification in June 2012. Sustainability is high up on their agenda, with an engaged staff team and an array of outlets to communicate the importance of sustainable values within and beyond the organisation. As a result of its environmental action, GFT has managed to decrease its carbon emissions by 10% (or 12 tonnes CO2e) between 2010/11 and 2011/12. This represents a decrease in energy (9%), water (2%) and business travel (18%), and compared to Julie’s Bicycle’s venue benchmarks, GFT currently uses 57% less gas than the average cultural venue.

This case study will outline a few of the initiatives that have helped GFT reduce its carbon footprint, and inspire their staff and audiences to do the same.


Image courtesy of Stuart Crawford: Eco stalls at the festival.

Staff Engagement

The GFT’s Director has an active involvement in the cinema’s green efforts and created the role of an Environmental Coordinator, who she felt would form a vital part of Glasgow Film Theatre’s wider commitments and ethos. She also signs off the GFT’s environmental policy, which is updated annually and included in staff and volunteer inductions. Ongoing training – such as recycling procedures – is also carried out for new staff and volunteers, and all managers are trained in how to be aware and capable of addressing environmental issues identified by the venue and to ensure environmental procedures are being followed by staff and volunteers.

A quarterly report is written up by the GFT's green champion and shared with the Director, Board, and all departments detailing environmental achievements and targets for the next quarter.

With over 50 volunteers involved in delivering the GFT’s busy annual programme, staff have created a green notice board and a quarterly staff and volunteer Green Newsletter to keep everyone in the loop. There is also colour coded recycling signage in the two cinema spaces to aid volunteers in separating waste.

Measuring and Reducing Impacts

The GFT started off with a building audit, carried out by the Energy Saving Trust, to identify the major sources of carbon emissions for GFT. From this first step, the venue decided to employ a recycling contractor for mixed recycling, as well as a host of other initiatives including a collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland on the Zero Waste Zones pilot project.

A staff-led “Switch it off” campaign is driving down energy emissions from lights and equipment left on unnecessarily, both in the GFT offices and public areas of the venue. The venue is also engaging audiences with energy initiatives, and as part of the UK Green Film Festival 2012 a cycle cinema event enabled people to power the movie themselves with bikes.

The GFT Café has also switched all its coffee cups, plastic glasses and napkins to compostable alternatives, and makes fresh food every day with produce sourced from local and, wherever possible, organic suppliers. To engage visitors with the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign, the GFT ran two events where the foyer was transformed into a kitchen and the café’s resident chef performed cooking demonstrations using the surplus food in the theatre.

To tackle the inevitable carbon impacts of audience travel, the GFT has designed and disseminated a customer travel questionnaire to better understand its audience travel patterns, which is ongoing. Prior to the survey, GFT’s initiatives to encourage sustainable travel included staff bike workshops over the last few years courtesy of the Glasgow Bike Station, including free bike repairs, and half price tickets offered to all those who cycle to their cycle cinema event in at the UK Green Film Festival 2012.

The GFT recognises that sustainable ambitions are often best met through collaboration with environmental organisations that can offer passion, expertise and additional activities to the venue’s programme, and for the last two UK Green Film Festivals has collaborated with: Eco Drama, Urban Roots community gardens, One World Shop, Echo Chic Boutique, Greenpeace, Scottish SPCA, The Glue Factory, Guerrilla Cinema, Glasgow Bike Station, Johnny's Garden, Grassroots Organics, Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland.

Communicating Sustainability

The GFT prides itself in hosting the UK Green Film Festival annually. It actively organises events and programmes films that encourage sustainable living for its customers, staff and partners. GFT has also been measuring its carbon footprint since 2010, the result of which can be found on the “Going Green” page on its website, and on display in public areas in the venue along with the GFT’s environmental policy.

The GFT’s Green Blog keeps audiences up to date with the venue’s environmental progress, and a green e-newsletter is also sent out to the general public.

Towards the Future

With further carbon reduction initiatives in the pipeline, GFT plans to switch all its lights to LEDs and is working on a procurement policy to ensure and encourage good practise from suppliers.

The venue also hopes to employ a zero waste volunteer coordinator to help meet the GFT’s aim to reduce all waste to landfill by 5%, as part of its collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland.

In addition to its 2 star Industry Green certification, the GFT is working towards becoming the first cinema in Scotland to obtain BS 8909, the British Sustainable Standard for Film


Sustaining Creativity