Over the past five months, Creative Carbon Scotland has been presenting a programme of workshops and meetings on how regularly funded organisations should record and report carbon emissions to Creative Scotland when submitting their annual report. Our conversations with training participants have underlined that the arts in Scotland encompass a wide variety of art forms in a wide variety of locations, ranging from dense city centres to the smallest villages. The accommodation required to support these activities could be as small as a home office or as large as a multi-arts venue which might encompass a theatre, cinema, gallery, workshops, café and tenanted offices.
One of the most significant contributions to the carbon footprint of an organisation will be the energy used to heat and light their buildings, offices, studios and workshops and we would expect to be able to calculate emissions by looking at meter readings and bills to see how much fuel has been used. So far so straightforward – but what do you report when, as a tenant, you don’t actually see any meter readings or pay any bills?
Everyone needs heat and light so who is responsible for emissions?
Many of the organisations we have spoken with during training sessions have raised this question. Who is responsible for reporting on emissions from energy used in their accommodation when this is part of their rent and they have no way of seeing meter readings or bills? Sometimes (but not always) both the landlord and the tenant receive funding from Creative Scotland and both are expected to record and report emissions. For tenants it might seem only reasonable to ignore this contribution to their overall emissions as it simply can’t be quantified (and this is the approach taken for Creative Scotland’s annual reporting) but many tenants are aware that this leaves them with an incomplete picture of their environmental impacts.
Why do we need to know what emissions your rented space produces?
As we have progressed through our series of meetings with over 100 organisation in recent months, it has emerged that the majority of those organisations use rented accommodation. Tenancy conditions vary a great deal. For some, users are responsible for paying all bills but have no opportunity to make changes to the building; others are responsible for all repairs; for others, fuel bills are included in the rent and there is no information available on costs and no opportunity to affect usage. Within this complicated mix, it is clear that a significant number of organisations are unable to fully report on their total carbon footprint. Taking a more global view, in terms of the whole arts sector in Scotland, we would like to fill the gap and answer the question: “How significant is energy use in rented spaces?”
How can we work together towards a better understanding?
Our time and financial resources are fairly limited but we have the enormous privilege of being connected with a large number of arts organisations and landlords who are actively engaged in environmental sustainability. Using this resource of goodwill we are proposing to carry out some research with both landlords and tenants to attempt to answer this question.
We are not in a position to implement exhaustive research but one of our main objectives is to help tenants and landlords become more aware of what conditions within a building affect the behaviour of building users and how this in turn can affect energy use. We also hope we will be able to help tenants to understand how emissions associated with their accommodation fit in with their overall carbon footprint by allowing us to provide a typical energy use for their spaces. Experience shows that this can lead to more efficient use of the building by helping users become more carbon aware and by enabling building owners to recognise worthwhile efficiency improvements to the building (e.g. better lighting or heating controls or improvements to windows and insulation). Any reductions in fuel use have the potential to reduce overall costs and emissions with benefits for tenants, landlords and the sector as a whole.
How can tenants and landlords help fill this gap in knowledge?
We are proposing to spend some time assessing a small number of tenanted spaces including asking some of the occupants to fill in questionnaires on how they use the building with one of our advisers. We will need a small amount of information and time from the landlord and permission to spend some time making some basic measurements within the building. If you would like to be included in these conversations, please get in touch with Fiona, our Carbon Reduction Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Paul Cross
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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.
In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.
We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.
Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:
Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.
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