JB Research Predicts Carbon Savings of Over £35 Million

The creative industries can make £35 million worth of savings between 2011 and 2015 by reducing energy use by around 8% – 10% year on year.

Julie’s Bicycle, the not-for-profit organisation working closely with the creative industries to make environmental sustainability a core component of their business operations, has revealed that the creative industries can conservatively make £35 million worth of savings between 2011 and 2015 by reducing energy use by around 8% – 10% year on year. £8 million of these savings relate to theatre alone.

This is based on an estimated energy spend for theatre, music and the visual arts sectors of £370 million in 2012-15 equating to 2.1 million tonnes CO2e. These figures are considered conservative because they are based on today’s figures and do not take account of rising energy prices.

Within these figures the savings available to the commercial sector are £25 million, and £10 million to the subsidised sector. Many of these savings can be achieved at little or no cost and can be realised through behavioural change and investments with short payback periods of one to three years. Savings can be returned as real cost savings and/or invested into environmental initiatives and further retrofitting.

These figures have been calculated based on the data provided by more than 300 companies who have been working directly with Julie’s Bicycle on carbon audits, the Industry Green certification programme and Julie’s Bicycle’s free online carbon calculators, the IG Tools, currently available for venues, festivals, touring and offices. This data includes buildings, outdoor festivals, tours and travel in the music, theatre and visual arts sectors, as well as CD packaging.

Julie’s Bicycle envisions that carbon reductions will largely come from energy efficiency savings, and predictions made here are based on the assumption that every 1 tonne of CO2 saved through energy efficiencies will incur a £200 reduction in money spend on energy consumption. This is a conservative figure which assumes that energy prices will remain the same; if energy prices do rise, as they are expected to do, it could mean potentially greater savings than those outlined here.

Proven Savings

Twelve companies supported by Julie’s Bicycle between 2007 and 2009 made over £1million savings between them. Since then the number of companies JB works with has grown exponentially to the extent that they anticipate working with upwards of 500 arts organisations in 2011/12.

The Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, Arcola Theatre, The Sage Gateshead and Aldeburgh Music are among the cultural venues recently awarded Julie’s Bicycle’s Industry Green Certification for proven reductions in carbon emissions in 2010.

These organisations have active green teams who work on strategies and staff engagement with their company’s environmental policy. They have been successfully implementing environmental initiatives ranging from installing Building Management Systems and voltage optimisers, to low-energy lighting updates both in front of house and on stage. Recycling and ‘switching off’ practices have been adopted by staff, suppliers are being asked to improve their environmental credentials, and many of these venues are transferring to renewable energy electricity tariffs. Most importantly, each of these cultural organisations is communicating commitment to and the importance of environmental sustainability in the creative industries to their staff, stakeholders and audiences by becoming Industry Green certified.

Many more theatres across the country are now using the Industry Green programme to improve their environmental performance - from Plymouth Theatre Royal to a consortium of 12 producing theatres in London including the Royal Court, Young Vic, Bush, BAC and Lyric. This latter group are also working together to develop consortium-wide projects that accelerate their ability to tackle this issue beyond the scope of an individual organisation acting alone.

Similarly members of Julie’s Bicycle UK Theatre Group who help to steer our UK Theatre programme have committed to working together to achieve the potential savings we have identified, including Ambassadors Theatre Group, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, Really Useful Group, the National Theatre and the RSC.

Towards Industry Benchmarks

Later this year Julie’s Bicycle plans to launch a set of industry benchmarks drawn from the rich and extensive data it has now gathered, and continues to gather, on behalf of the industry, adding value to the measurement work of each individual arts organisation and helping to inform policy makers.

Recognising the value and impact of industry tailored tools, resources and support, Arts Council England recommends Julie’s Bicycle Industry Green tools in its self-evaluation framework for arts organisations. ACE has recently commissioned JB to incorporate elements of its old arts energy toolkit into Industry Green and roll this out as a standard framework across the subsidised sector.

“Arts organisations across the UK are coming to terms with the implications of the reduction in Arts Council and local authority funding to the sector, and at the same time many companies are reporting rising energy costs as contracts come up for renewal, with annual increases ranging from 8% to 30%. At times like this it becomes even more essential to make sure that the resources we do have are being well spent and that as much money as possible can be directed to our stages. It is incredibly encouraging to see the early successes of companies who are actively tackling their energy use. We hope more companies will now join our networks and make use of the tools, support and advice available. The business case is compelling. The potential savings on offer are too significant not to act now.”

– Sian Alexander, Associate Director of Theatre for Julie’s Bicycle


Sustaining Creativity