ETC TGB: Improving the Sustainability of Our Theatre Building

Théâtre de Liège

The Théâtre de Liège is made up of two distinct buildings, both owned by the city. The first, in the heart of the city, houses two auditoriums (557 and 145 seats respectively), a rehearsal room, and a costume workshop. The second includes set construction workshops, storage facilities, and an additional rehearsal space.

We meet with city officials twice a year to discuss the state of these buildings and any necessary changes. These are often to do with wear and tear, or fire safety. Recently, we had begun discussing sustainable changes: for instance, we planned to put a plant area on the terraces and needed city officials to test the weight and safety of the structure.

I soon realised that rather than coming to these meetings with one sustainable point after another, it would be more efficient to create an entire sustainable building plan. The good news is that there was an easy answer that meant I didn’t need to be an expert: The sustainable building tool in the ETC Theatre Green Book.

A simple process

We organised a general meeting with city officials and the city architect to check the sustainable building tool line-by-line. They were equally happy to have something concrete to follow, which allowed for an exhaustive assessment
of the current state and discussion of the challenges and opportunities associated with the buildings. We were also able to tailor the discussion to the specific needs of each site.

Overall, the ETC Theatre Green Book helped us identify a list of 21 relevant actions which must now be budgeted. Among these actions are:

  • Installing sub-meters for electricity to target energy consumption
  • Installing solar panels on the roof
  • Installing daylight sensors, in addition to existing motion detectors, to
    turn off lights when not needed
  • Installing flow restrictors on faucets
  • Training an employee in heating management tools
  • Installing an airlock at the theatre entrance to prevent drafts
  • Installing UV filters in the small auditorium to protect from heat in

There are some things we won’t be able to do because it is a historic building. Also, we renovated the building not too long ago, and most of the equipment is considered almost new, making it not sustainable to replace them already. But it’s clear that our ecological interests intertwine with the economic interests of the city (the city pays for the electricity and water that we use), and that we have a strong relationship to work on sustainability together.

Reaching ‘Basic’ – and beyond – in the ETC Theatre Green Book

Our theatre had already made good advances on sustainability in the building. We had begun rationalizing energy consumption (electricity, gas, water) and our energy efficiency was in a good state. A water softener has beeninstalled, allowing everyone to drink directly from taps, eliminating the need for water fountains and plastic bottles. Lighting schedules in the building have been adjusted according to public needs to reduce unnecessary consumption and nocturnal visual pollution. In addition, motion sensors were installed in the corridors to activate lighting only when necessary, and half of the non-essential neon lights in the corridors were removed. Heating in all spaces has been limited to 19 degrees

Celsius. Lastly, terraces were greened with the help of the Liège horticultural school, planting edible plants for staff and beneficial plants for pollinators. Thus, the 5 “easy wins” necessary to reach the Basic level established by the ETC Theatre Green Book had already been achieved prior to utilizing the tool. But the ETC TGB is helping us to reach the important next step. It has been praised by both the city and the theatre for its ability to simplify the development of a comprehensive action plan, offering a diverse range of concrete actions while eliminating those not suitable for the institution’s specific characteristics. We now have a plan – the next step will be implementing this.

By Emmanuelle Lejeune, Sustainability Advisor at Théâtre de Liège/Belgium

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