We are completely inspired and motivated by the speakers and delegates of the GEI9 – Green Events & Innovations Conference 2017!
Just a few short insights in to the day … and keep an eye on this space for videos and slides coming soon.
Professional Power! Smart Design of Event Energy was presented by Paul Schurink of Zap Concepts (NL), who explained how DGTL festival were able to slash power expenses by 80% and emissions by 98% by adopting a Smart Power Plan. To achieve this was a tough process in the beginning met with resistance from production, “I have a new target for you—power at 50%. They said ‘it’s impossible’ and I said well you are creative, let’s figure it out’.
Steve Muggeridge of Green Gathering said “It is our mission to run entirely on solar, and that is what we do. Knowing how much you need, where you need it to, the capacity to make it sustainable. Biggest myth is that you will run out of power—if you plan correctly, you won’t“.
Tim Benson, Hybrid Energy Consultant presented Glycerine: the new standard in biofuels! Developed by Aquafuel which allows glycerine to be burned in specially adapted rental spec generators. Glycerine is a natural and abundant product of biofuel. Odorless, non toxic and non contaminative. Cocktails made from glycerine were served to spectators at Formula e—they were drinking the fuel that was powering all the cars in the event! Glycerine was given a glowing report claiming it reduces PM emissions by almost 100%, Nox are virtually eliminated, CO2 emissions reduced by 97% compared with diesel, and ensures complete compliance with LEZ. Watch this space.
Chris Johnson launched the Powerful Thinking: “Smart Energy for Festivals and Events” guide.
“We wondered whether a lot of people wanted to talk about power, and it turned out about 50 people did and shared the same aspirations. About 1,000 industry professionals have read it over the last 5 years.”
An incredible keynote speech was given by the swiftly and aptly crowned “Queen of Sustainability” Lucy Legan, co-founder Ecocentro IPEC — “Designing Sustainability into the DNA of Events”.
“We produce 300g of poop a day. When you’re looking at a festival, say with Boom Festival at 42,000 people, that is a lot of poop. That’s gold if we were to recycle all that poop.”
We heard about the work they did with sustainable building materials, that was able to change the regulations in Brazil. They are mainly working with soils for building at EcoCentro.
The insight in to Boom Festival’s radical and cutting edge sustainability policies and projects was incredible. Lucy added “My job at Boom is to create edible gardens. We’ve done a lot of testing on human manure compost. At first we only used it for native bushes and long lasting herbs. We want the people to come into Boom Festival and pick the organic food. In 2016 we had 1,500m2 chill out gardens, 14km2 land art gardens, 10km2 sacred fire, 10km2 being fields and 3km2 central plaza liminal village. Bio-construction is at 60%, and we pull down Rock in Rio and recycle all their stuff to use at Boom.”
Latest actions & challenges for greener festivals was presented by A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill
A Greener Festival Award assessment form has developed into a highly detailed document over the years, bringing back a ton of information about what’s being done, what’s not being done and where improvements can be made in event sustainability. Events are scoring the lowest in waste water and CO2 analysis in the A Greener Festival Awards. Only 21% consider waste water & sewage explicitly in event emergency procedures plan. Emergency plans are fantastic for health and safety with people, but for the first time this year we’ve begun asking people about the environmental impact during emergencies.
Claire highlighted that there was little action at festivals generally, save for a few, for harnessing the nutrients and value from sewage and waste water. 10 years ago much of the event solid waste was all bagged together and taken off site in the contractors hands, without any thought from organisers about separation and recycling. This is how water and sewage are being treated at the moment. “We expect (and need) to see waste water and sewage treated as a valuable resource that is separated and processed in a way that doesn’t loose it’s important value”.
The Greener Event Award 2017: “For the last 10 years A Greener Festival have been working with festivals exclusively, but there can be a huge amount of waste and untapped efficiencies at conferences, trade fairs and other events besides – hence there is a significant opportunity for saving money and resources! We’re going to start working with these other events this year, rolling this out with our partners across the world”.
“What next? Environmental policy after Brexit” was presented by Amy Mount, Green Alliance. “The scale of the risk involved in Brexit is so great that we need a new coalition to look at the impact on environmental policy. If the UK gets this wrong, and the EU27 in not maintaining the negotiations, then the UK could turn into a pariah on the outside of Europe that reduces its standards and starts a race to the bottom.”
The UK pre-Brexit was already one of the most nature-depleted climates in the world. What Brexit does is introduce another layer of uncertainty on top of that. 80% of environmental policy stems from EU law. There is also possibility that standards could stay but no enforcement provided.”We need to be focused on the big prize which is restoring nature and natural resources.”
- Secure the benefits of existing environmental laws
- Secure the UK’s global climate leadership
- Introduce new policies and investment for farming and fishing industries
In Jan 2017, PM’s speech was conspicuous by environment’s absence from speech—really significant because PM said we’re moving into a world of ‘deal-making’. If you don’t say right from the beginning that environment is off the table, then you’re going to start compromising in the negotiations.
Greener UK got MPs to make a baseline commitment to maintain environmental protections—206 MPs signed Pledge for the Environment.
“Wider Environment—Nationalism” was presented by Holger Jan Schmidt (GO Group / Yourope). “In the past three years we have been talking about responsibility in different ways, not just environment but towards society. While society is changing in different ways, we need to talk about how we in the festival scene should deal with how this is affecting us. What we want to talk about is how political could or should festivals, events and organisations be? Are they political by their existence or are they purely just for entertainment?”
Fruzsina Szép gave an utterly inspiring speech and launched the Take A Stand campaign which is started by Yourope but accessible to all. The purpose is to encourage all people to take a stand to preserve human rights and humanity, and to not accept or condone fascism nor oppression in any form.
Artist manager, Festival Owner and Co-Chair of the Music Managers Forum, Stephen Budd showed footage of the Damon Albarn performance of “Out of Time” featuring the Syrian Orchestra, at the Royal Albert Hall. To see the platform created to show that there is more to Syria than just war was a moving example of action how music really can unite and be a common language for all people.
Ivan Milivojev, Founder of Exit Festival in Serbia had us mesmerised with the story of how the event began. In a time when people were oppressed, communication restricted and corruption rife in their country, a group of people came together to throw a 100 day illegal party. The purpose – to mobilise and engage the youth to stand up for what they believed in.
Each of these speakers gave an account of their history, and how they came to be involved in the music industry. It was a moving and stimulating session that provided a beacon of clarity to the importance for every person to take action for what we feel is right, and stand up against that which we feel is wrong. Festivals and events play a major part in this as tools for communication, but more importantly as gatherings of people coming together in celebration and shared environments.
Aymeric Lecomte, (AGF / Bournemouth University) presented research in to the environmental impacts of Fireworks, focusing on Human stress and injuries, wildlife disruption and chemical pollution. He highlighted that in many cases impacts were minimal or associated with amateur displays as opposed to professional, however raised a good point when talking about bird displacements that “If pigeons decided to thrown rocks at people one night a year and we had to leave town until they stopped we might be a little annoyed!”
One element of research presented by Aymeric highlighted the presence of Perchlorate which can inhibit thyroid function in certain concentrations, especially in pregnant women, infants and Hypothyroidism. Further research is recommended in these impacts.
Dr Thomas Smith, Secretary of the British Pyrotechnics Association gave an expert industry response in relation to the environmental impacts of fireworks. Dr Smith argued that the entertainment value of Fireworks did outweigh any environmental impacts that he argues are proven to be minimal. “Fireworks are chemicals, but so is everything else! The explosives industry is the second most regulated in the UK, only after Nuclear.” An insight in to the chemical make up and resulting emissions of fireworks was given, alongside cases where large firework displays have been show to have no adverse impact on flora and fauna.
Dr Smith urged that the worst disruption comes when the public, people or keepers of cattle are not informed that it is going to happen. “A lot of distress and disturbance could be avoided if organisers were to properly communicate what they are planning to do with those who will be affected by it“.
Moderator Ivana Dragila (EPS) invited Stuart Warren-Hill and Andrew McQuillan to join the stage and discuss the Future of Event Special Effects. This was a SciFi dream come true as we were welcomed to the world of drone displays and holograms!
Andrew displayed the Intel swarm of 500 drones light show as an example of the length that these fascinating etherial spectaculars can be stretched. It was highlighted that the technology is becoming cheaper all the time, but so too is the legislation and potential for fine and imprisonment of drones are used above crowds without permi
AV wizard Stuart Warren-Hill is the Founder of Hexstatic and inventor of HoloGauze. We were given insight to the world that all 80s movies warned us we would be living in. The HoloGauze hologram technology can be presented at events, using screens 5m high and up to 45m long! C
reating mind blowing visuals, effects and even bringing people back to life – this use of technology really is something else.
An important issue was raised regarding equipment life cycles, and the importance for re-use and robustness of materials. In our current and future technological era we have growing requirement for rare earth minerals, and often conflict minerals. Technological companies and users of the equipment (ie all of us!) are urged to be aware of the full life cycle and impact of what we produce and consume, to expose unjust industries and move towards a fair and sustainable way of continuing this truly magnificent evolution.
Sustainable Set and Stage Design was tackled next by all star line up of creative giants Andrea Carr, Bertie Cole of Arcadia Spectacular, Robin Collings from Shangri La / Boomtown Fair and Tim Leigh from Stage One, all perfectly presented by the wonderfully charismatic DJ Chris Tofu of Continental Drifts.
Tim spoke of how Stage One aim to reduce the amount of new materials that they use wherever possible, but often the requirements of clients are quite heartbreaking where the scope for re-use and reduction can be limited. In these cases the organisation have aimed to donate materials to other causes, such as for shelter in disaster zones. It was raised during the session that closer collaborations between large staging and set companies and smaller artistic operations and micro venues would be a logical step.
As an independent Artist Andrea explained the process by which artwork evolves as a result of the materials available. She made a commitment to herself for her work Ecologically in the performing arts sector. This is the ethos too of the Ecostage Pledge which all people working in the performing and creative arts are encouraged to visit and sign up to.
Bertie Cole showed an incredibly moving and impressive video of Arcadia Spectacular’s recent visit to Perth with the 50 tonne fire breathing spider stage. What made this show particularly special was the integral part played by the Aboriginal Noongar Community who welcomed Arcadia, and performed the Yallorr Keeninyarra call to the Spider Spirit of Kings Park in Perth City.
Bertie explained how the iconic Arcadia stages had evolved organically through a friendship with partner Pip Rush, support from Glastonbury Festival, visits to scrap yards and the catalyst of creative contributors over time. Using his experience with building and dismantling one of the largest tents in the world since childhood, the Spider Stage has been designed to be packed down and set back up in new locations time and time again. The durability of this sculptural masterpiece of a stage is evidenced by it’s increasingly busy global touring calendar!
Robin Collings gave insight in to two of the most impressive spaces in the UK festival scene (and far beyond) when it comes to set design and creating alternative worlds and environments. Robin is a Creative Director of Shangri La of Glastonbury Festival, which has something particularly relevant to the topic of sustainability this year – and will of course deliver it in the most unique, evocative and anarchistic way possible! Robin highlighted that it is difficult to use the same venues across numerous events because they all want to be unique and original. Boomtown Fair aim to make their sets from materials that are durable and store them for re-use each year. It is a longer term investment which might not be the cheapest build option on day 1 but in the long run it pays off.
Finally, we welcomed the sharp as a knife Chair, Chris Cooke of Unlimited Media, who delivered this outstanding panel of truly commendable and inspiring projects from 3 very different events, Designing Inputs for Greener Outputs.
Chris Johnson showed the story of Shambala Festival choosing to go 100% vegetarian in 2016, and the response and reaction, and ultimately the impact upon the audience. “Shambala is all about ‘Adventures in Utopia’: holding a monumental party and actively contributing to a positive future.” The festival were worried about possible impact on ticket sales, traders coping with the challenge and audience experience onsite & feedback when they took the meat free decision. The initial backlash from the audience was about freedom of choice. In fact tickets sales, food revenues, and positive feedback in the end were all increased. “The single biggest decision we can take as individuals or festivals to significantly reduce our environmental impact is to reduce/stop eating meat.”
Lucy Legan presented the amazing ETAR water system of Boom Festival. This is the most stunning water treatment system, which uses the movement of water and microbes / plants to create natural filtration and cleaning of the events waste water in situ! What’s more the ETAR water treatment is stunningly beautiful and creates a habitat for the local wildlife. “If you have frogs, you know that your water is good.” The festival site at the time was just rented by the event organisers, and yet this semi permanent structure was not only permitted, but used as a beacon for education and example of sustainable water management systems that can be used by small towns and villages.
Mikkel Sander demonstrated how by targeting the culture of audiences, Roskilde’s Clean Out Loud campaign is looking to be a huge success. Images of the camping sites showed a notable difference between the camping which had pre and during event interventions to harness a culture of caring for the space, compared to a campsite which reflects the old culture of disposal and wastefulness. An important issues was raised once again this year, that we must be wary to not lead people to believe that by abandoning items at an event they will go to a good home and help someone. In the majority of cases they will become landfill or incinerated.
All of our panelists agreed that there is zero time for complacency. We are in a critical position and have no choice but to consider the impact of what we do, and use creativity and our events as an essential and powerful tool for cultural change and social movement.
“Its not enough to reduce the damage of our presence. Human settlement should come with positive impact.” Andre Soares