DramaBiz magazine – The Eco-Friendly Theatre of the Future

“Greening” operations can reduce your carbon footprint while still delivering stellar productions—and help keep your audience and staff healthy

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for 72% of electricity consumption, consume 40% of our raw materials, spew 38% of all CO2 emissions, create 136 million tons of construction waste, and use 15 trillion gallons of water per year in the United States alone.

Green buildings, on the other hand, consume 26% less energy while emitting 33% fewer greenhouse gases. The USGBC also estimates that if “half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.”

Now take a deep breath – because those are significant numbers that should give us pause. But it does not mean we should all go out and start looking for a green architect and a wealthy donor. Not yet, anyway. Rebuilding from the ground up is not the first step. Efficiency and green building experts agree that the first and most important thing you can do is improve conservation and efficiency within your current operation and facility.

Portland Center Stage, Theatre For A New Audience, and Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta have all taken the big step. Each of these companies work in what are known as LEED certified facilities. LEED – or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is a certification program managed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The program works on a point system, with points awarded for things as diverse as proximity to public transit to how efficiently the building uses (and reuses) water and electricity. Depending on the number of points earned a building can receive one of three levels of certification from Silver to Platinum, with Gold in the middle. Theatrical Outfit, for example, produces in a renovated historical building with a LEED Silver rating and was the first performing arts facility to be LEED certified in the nation. Portland Center Stage also renovated a historical building in the heart of Portland, earning a Platinum rating from the USGBC. Their facility includes such eco-friendly features as a rainwater collection and reuse system, natural ventilation, extensive use of natural lighting throughout the lobby and administrative offices, and radiant heating in the lobby. The building also reportedly uses about 30% less energy than code requires.

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