We can talk about greening our theatre spaces – and we do at Creative Trust’s Facilities Roundtable meetings – but it’s not easy to know where to start. That’s why we started by commissioning independent energy auditor Anthony Marshall to do detailed energy conservation audits for six companies in Toronto. Between May and October 2011, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Factory Theatre, Tafelmusik, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, and Toronto Dance Theatre/STDT provided a year’s worth of utilities bills for analysis and welcomed Anthony into every nook and cranny of their facilities. The Energy Conservation Audits report is the first step in Toronto’s Green Theatres, a concerted approach to greening performing facilities in Toronto.
The audit results are fascinating, and offer numerous opportunities for collaborative work and group sourcing and purchasing. From simple lighting retrofits, to door and window replacement and automated heating controls, all the way to major boiler and heating system upgrades and rooftop ventilation replacement, there are many commonalities. For example, while not all the companies are suited to Solar PV Array units, those who are could share research and suppliers. For lighting and heating system upgrades, Anthony identified rebate and grant programs (including through Toronto’s Energy Efficiency Office) to offset costs; these could be approached collectively.
Measures taken to green Toronto theatres will result in improved working and public environments – along with significant energy savings over time. Each of the participating companies received detailed, practical recommendations that will help them integrate greening into their facility upkeep and repair and renovation plans.
One common recommendation came as no surprise: all the facilities were found to require some form of repair and/or upgrade to the building envelope. Creative Trust’s Facilities Initiative began in 2009 to tackle the need to repair, renovate or expand our members’ facilities, many of which are in heritage buildings repurposed as public performing spaces up to 40 years ago. Because affordable, accessible, and well-maintained facilities and performing venues are necessary for the community to thrive, we’ve been helping more than 20 organizations find ways to replace heat-leaking windows, deteriorating roofs, dusty old furnaces and poor insulation, and deal with the many challenges of maintaining an ageing physical plant while trying to control costs. The Facilities Initiative has become a network for sharing, learning and raising awareness and funding to address these issues.
Through Toronto’s Green Theatres we plan to use the results of the Energy Audits as part of an overall strategy that can be rolled out to performing venues throughout the City, inspiring Creative Trust members and the wider theatre community to build energy efficiency into each new build or renovation project, and sharing our experience with other arts and nonprofit organizations.
Toronto’s Green Theatres is the first arts sector initiative of its kind in Canada and a possible model for other communities. Like all Creative Trust’s work, it was developed collaboratively and will rely on our collective muscle for its success. We thank both Toronto’s Cultural Services and Energy Efficiency Offices, which have been wonderfully supportive of our plans to work across our sector to reduce theatres’ carbon footprints. We hope that our results will act as a catalyst for changing awareness and behavior around one of the most compelling issues of our day.