Royal Opera House

A jewel in the crown on London’s West End, the Royal Opera House (ROH) is home to the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet. It manages a 2,820 seat capacity across three venues, two storage facilities, and the organisation also tours across the UK and internationally. Renowned for its artistic excellence, the Royal Opera House is now working towards excellence in environmental performance too.

Royal Opera House exterior

The ROH has appointed an Environmental Steering Group of senior managers, including the Director of Finance, which reports to the Board. A staff action group works to an environmental action plan, and shares progress at quarterly staff meetings and through the staff newsletter. ROH is also part of the Green Theatre Network hosted by Julie’s Bicycle, for latest developments and thinking on environmental sustainability for the arts.

The ROH has managed to prevent any waste from being sent to landfill, and recycles paper, card, glass, plastic and metals; and food waste is sent to an incinerator in south London. The venue also highlights detailed public transport options on its website, encouraging audiences to make the most of London’s extensive transport system.

Because the ROH is a complex mix of office and venue space with rehearsal and education activities as well as performances, it is difficult to compare its results with standard benchmarks. A more meaningful and effective approach is to compare its own relative performance over time based on clear recommendations based on the specific condition of the estate. In the first year of its Industry Green assessment, the ROH achieved a small (0.37%) decrease in carbon emissions from their 2008/009 baseline in 2009/10. This is a positive step forward, and will enable the organisation to increase the scale of ambition over the next year.

Electricity use at the ROH accounts for over half of the organisation’s direct emissions (56%), and analysing energy use over time shows that emissions could be reduced further by changes in staff behaviour. The Environmental Steering Group and staff action group will be focusing on immediate actions such as switching off lights and appliances such as fridges when not in use, which could save the ROH an estimated 400 tonnes of CO2e within a year.

Paul Reeve, Director of Education at ROH and Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Steering Group says “the support and services that Julie's Bicycle provide are highly valuable to the Royal Opera House, playing a key role in enabling us to make meaningful progress in our environmental strategy and practice.  Of particular value are their specialist knowledge and understanding of the arts industry that result in focused, relevant research and guidance; and the networks they facilitate that enable us to share issues, solutions and learning with other organisations.”

Royal Opera House Auditorium