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Environment and Sustainability

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Chichester Festival Theatre is actively working to reduce its impact on the environment and will continue to respond to the climate crisis in an ambitious, committed and focused way.

In 2020 we were delighted to receive a 4* rating from Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green certification programme and were nominated for two Creative Green Awards – but we know there’s more that we can do.

We are currently developing a new and robust green strategy which will set a pathway for the theatre to reach carbon net zero, led by our staff ‘Green Committee’ who champion our sustainability agenda and develop new initiatives.

CFT Trees and Carbon offsetting

From 2021 we will reduce our impact by supporting tree planting projects locally and internationally:

  • In place of traditional opening night gifts and cards, we will plant a tree for each production to support local tree planting initiatives. We began in 2020 with the planting of five trees in Oaklands Park (two oaks, a lime tree, a cherry tree and a liquid amber tree), in partnership with Chichester District Council, to celebrate our Youth Theatre production, Pinocchio.
  • We encourage patrons and staff to minimise car travel, but recognise that driving to the theatre may be the only available option for some. We have established a partnership with UK social enterprise Ecologi to offer audience members the option to carbon-offset the impact of their journey, at the point of purchasing a ticket. All contributions go directly to Ecologi to support carbon offsetting projects and international tree-planting programmes. Read more about this partnership here.

Carbon offsetting is just a small part of what we’re doing, and needs to work alongside other meaningful action to cut our carbon emissions.

Productions

We actively seek to reuse and recycle production materials, and proactively explore lower energy and impact alternatives to all production processes, both onstage and backstage. We have adopted LED lighting technologies and exclusively use rechargeable batteries, refillable laundry products and washable cosmetic wipes.

2021 will see a move to a new local storage facility, increasing our capacity to store and reuse production items. A new asset management barcode system will enable hiring of props and costumes more efficiently and on a greater scale.

A free bicycle hire scheme is offered to visiting artists while resident in Chichester, reducing short-car journeys.

In 2020, our CFYT production Pinocchio had a set and costumes designed and made entirely from reused and recycled materials. 

Buildings and Energy

We are committed to only using energy from renewable sources; a building management system network allows us to monitor energy usage and maximise efficiency.

An annual target of 5% reduction in energy use has been achieved each year since benchmarks were set in 2016.

We are recognised by the Renewable Heat Initiative for energy reuse, thanks to open and closed loop Ground Source Heat Pumps sitting below Oaklands Park, and Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery units across all air handling plants.

We utilise water management technologies including percussive taps and short flush sanitary ware, and the extensive use of external rainwater soakaways.

The 2014 RENEW project, a £22m refurbishment of the Festival Theatre, had environmental sustainability as a core focus and saw the Theatre awarded a RIBA Southeast Sustainability award and achieve a “Very Good” BREEAM rating. The Festival Theatre is Grade II* listed and not sufficiently load-bearing for us to consider solar panels or wind power.

We have invested in video conferencing equipment across the site to facilitate digital meetings and reduce the need for travel. 

Lighting

A rolling programme of installing LED energy-saving lighting technologies across front of house and backstage areas of the Theatres continues.

In 2021 a grant from the Theatres Trust’s Theatre Improvement Scheme, in association with the Wolfson Foundation, will support the replacement and upgrade of the Minerva Theatre’s house lights, reducing their energy consumption by 99%.

Biodiversity

RENEW utilised environmentally sustainable processes including the creation of a waste soil bund to create a planted-out, wildlife haven.

While CFT’s site isn’t suitable for bee-keeping, in 2021 we added swift boxes to the Festival Theatre building; we look forward to our first avian visitors. Our Green Room garden is also a wildlife haven, with staff donating bird seed, and drought tolerant plants minimising the need for watering.

Paper, Waste & Recycling

Since 2017 we have worked to be a paperless environment and to reduce our use of paper and printing. Within six months of adopting an e-signing software for contracts and documents our paper purchasing reduced by 50%. 

CFT partners with Chichester District Council in the management of waste and recycling.


Catering

Our catering partner, Caper & Berry, shares CFT’s values and commitment to reducing environmental impact. All plastic packaging has been replaced with reusable, recyclable or biodegradable options and they pride themselves on using locally sourced produce. 

In 2020, pre-pandemic, we had planned to introduce reusable cups in our bars, in place of plastic cups used for patrons taking drinks into the theatre. We hope to make this change in the near future.

Work with us

Protecting the environment is a shared responsibility and we hope to support our local community in reducing the District’s impact on the environment. If you have any suggestions, or would be interested in partnering with CFT on an environmentally-focused project, please send us an email.