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The World’s First Carbon Neutral Theatre – Arcola Theatre

A greener earth and greener theatre, Arcola has thought of it all!

Arcola Theatre commissions and debuts new works as well as rare treasures of international theatre and innovative new interpretations of classics. They are noted for being socially engaged; the worldwide programme promotes diversity, challenges the existing quo, and annually attracts over 65,000 visitors to their building. Their ticket costs are among the most reasonable in London, and the theatre’s long-running Pay What You Can system ensures that no one is turned away due to a lack of funds.

Arcola aspires to be the first carbon-neutral theatre in the world. Their environmental sustainability projects, created in collaboration with their sister company Arcola Energy, are well-known around the world. They even earned The Stage Sustainability Award in 2018 for their continued efforts to minimise carbon emissions and increase awareness about the climate crisis. Arcola’s mission is to create a future that is sustainable, equitable, and creative.

They founded Arcola Energy Ltd in 2010 to advance technological development and commercialization. Arcola Energy is a leader in the combination of hydrogen and fuel cells, with a reputation for understanding customer demands, forging strong industry alliances, and producing low-cost products in the United Kingdom. Arcola Energy and Arcola Theatre collaborate closely on renewable energy projects.

Since 2012, all Arts Council England-funded organisations have been required to report on their environmental performance. Arcola’s carbon footprint has been decreased by more than 25%.

They have done this by: 

  • Installing solar panels covering 24 square metres to generate electricity. These panels create up to 6 kilowatts of green electricity at their peak, the majority of which is used by the theatre.
  • The waste wood-fired heating system used by Arcola is carbon-neutral. It has produced about 67,000kWh of heat since its commissioning in December 2012, primarily by burning garbage and scrap wood. This heat would have produced 67.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide if it had been generated through the gas grid.
  • Solar thermal panels were installed by Arcola to heat the water in our faucets. On bright days, the 5 panels can heat water to 60 degrees. Solar thermal can be coupled with photovoltaics to boost efficiency even more.
  • In our office, lobby, bar, and dressing rooms, we use LED lighting. They’ve installed 83 lights that consume 89 percent less energy than traditional fluorescent lighting.
  • 90% of the beer sold at Arcola Bar comes from within a 4-mile radius, lowering our carbon footprint.

To stay updated with their journey to becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre, check out their website and current projects.

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