Creative reuse: a "green" theatre is probably an old theatre…

While certified green theatre may still be an anomaly, the live entertainment design community is discussing its environmental impact, as well as broader notions of sustainability, both online and in person. Yesterday, Live Design magazine published a blog post (the first in a series) from lighting designer and theatre consultant Curtis Kasefang on the concept of “sustainable theatres.” Kasefang’s notion of a sustainable performance space can be summed in up in one word: reuse.

Reusing a facility has multiple benefits for economic, environmental, and social sustainability, according to the author:

  • Carbon emissions are minimized because there’s little to no soil disturbance.
  • Much less waste heads to the landfill.
  • The local community around the theatre likely receives a bigger piece of the economic benefits: “…costs from new construction generally divide to 50% materials and 50% labor. In rehabilitation projects, that figure is closer to 70% labor and 30% materials, and the skill level of that labor is higher. In renovation projects, the figures are somewhere in the middle.”
  • A “green” facility may be more attractive to local government officials and donors.

Renovation or rehabilitation has its downsides, of course: older facilities will likely require extensive retrofitting, especially for energy efficiency. Meeting these challenges requires not only dedication to a more sustainable facility, but also a rethinking of costs — as with other building design projects, construction and operating costs need to be considered side-by-side.

Since both creative thinking and making do with limited budgets both define artistic work, this could shape into a very intriguing discussion. Live Design isn’t just focusing on theatre sustainability on its pages: it will also dedicate significant portions of its upcoming conference in Orlando to the the topics of environmental responsibility and green technology.

Know of performance venues that have “greened” their facilities? Tell us about them below…

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