Aldeburgh Music, located along the exquisite but flood-threatened Suffolk coast, hosts the internationally acclaimed Aldeburgh Festival, started by composer Benjamin Britten and English tenor Peter Pears in 1948, and a year-round programme of events and artist development activities. Aldeburgh Music’s main venue is Snape Maltings Concert Hall, first used in the 19th century for malting grains used in the brewing process and now a 830 capacity venue. Since 2006 Aldeburgh Music have also been converting other malting buildings on the site into studios, rehearsal spaces and recital rooms, establishing Aldeburgh as a “creative campus” - a meeting point for talented musicians to nurture talent and creating new work, keeping Britten and Pears’ original vision for the site alive.
The site is bustling throughout the year: major annual events include the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts in June and the Snape Proms in August, and the organisation also runs and hosts a variety of educational, rehearsal and artist residency activities. Ticket sales total at around 91000 p.a.
Aldeburgh Music is committed to managing its environmental impacts not least because its leadership team, headed by Jonathan Reekie, is acutely aware of its vulnerability as well as its heritage. In 2010 the team commissioned an Industry Green assessment and Julie’s Bicycle has awarded Aldeburgh Music one star recognising their commitment to understanding, improving and communicating their environmental impacts. The report estimates that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Aldeburgh Music 2009-10 were equivalent to approximately 1447 tonnes of CO2e. Of this, audience travel accounts for 76% of emissions, but if the audience travel is excluded then electricity is the highest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 80%. Aldeburgh Music are on track to gain 2 stars for 2010-2011 once the data on their carbon reductions is available, with preliminary measurements already showing reductions.
A number of different initiatives are already underway: a green committee is meeting regularly, with representatives from every department who update their shared action plan each time they meet. All the actions identified to improve the venue’s environmental performance have been explained to staff, who have identified their priorities. Since a Carbon Trust audit was carried out in 2007, Aldeburgh has upgraded their Building Management System and installed a voltage optimiser for the main electricity supply. The venue has begun a series of energy management procedures and is looking into how to further reduce electricity consumption, as well as improvements and updates to lighting. Aldeburgh Music has recently been advised on measures to improve heating and ventilation in the Concert Hall.
The venue is planning a series of new initiatives that will also contribute to emission reductions:
- communicating the importance of environmental sustainability with staff, supply chain and audience;
- undertaking a waste audit to better understand waste and arrange reuse and recycling accordingly;
- working with printers to improve information about paper use;
- undertaking a wider survey of audience travel, and use marketing data to better estimate distance travelled; and
- investigating PV panels.
From the team
Sharon Goddard, Capital Project Coordinator at Aldeburgh, reported on their positive progress since they were awarded their first Industry Green star:
“the voltage optimizer has been a real success … we are currently showing a reduction of 16% in electricity use. This high reduction might also be because we have been making a real effort to turn things off, including all the coolers over the Christmas period, which is probably the first time this has ever happened ... Another area I am working on is getting all our kitchen waste off to a local anaerobic digestion plant … We had a successful company ‘car share’ day and plan to have another one in the next couple of months … we are trying to be more efficient with how we use our spaces (small space for small rehearsal) and only heating spaces when they are being used. So, all in all, I think we are moving in the right direction!”
Images in order of appearance: (1) Concert Hall Inside by Jeremy Young, (2) Creative Campus by Jeremy Young, and (3) The Hoffmann Building at Snape by Malcolm Watson.