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Resource Living at The Green Gathering

Sustainable Festival Power – Dream or Reality?

By – Tessa Stewart, REsource Living & Em Weirdigan, The Green Gathering

While many people like the idea of solar power, it tends to be seen as too puny and unreliable to be a realistic option for most festivals and events. 

In this blog the organisers of The Green Gathering – a 5000 capacity, 100% renewably-powered festival – along with power providers REsource Living – bust some common myths about using solar successfully to encourage more festivals to make the switch. They have plenty of experience to share! The Green Gathering received the International Greener Festival Award for Power in 2018, and they are a Vision: 2025 event, pledged to cut their environmental impacts year on year. 

Myth 1: “For our headline bands only a generator will do”

Tess of REsource Living, one of The Green Gathering’s power providers, replies: 

Tackling this calls for a relationship between musicians, sound engineers and power managers. 

There are now digital amps available that provide sound quality just as good as valve amps for a fraction of the power requirement. Experienced musicians know this. Sound engineers know that a PA will not run at its peak output rating, for example a 10kW PA will rarely require 10kW and the sound quality is far better below this, at around 50%.

Resource Living sometimes uses a meter on the sound engineer’s desk so they can actually see how much power they draw; the idea being to get them on board so they feel in control, and talk to them so they understand that being savvy now will mean there’s plenty of power for later and tomorrow.

A band requiring a 10kVA feed will rarely use that much and if they do it will be in spikes which a correctly sized solar system will be able to handle. Resource’s current inverters can spike at 12kVA for 30 secs.”

Low-energy LED lighting equipment is now easy to source – festoon for area lighting, floods for gates and carparks, stage lights and spots. There are plenty of talented lighting engineers happy to work on solar powered systems. 

Myth 2: “If the sun goes in, it won’t work… where’s the back up?”

Good solar power providers have back up inverters and charge controllers and so could continue to provide at least half capacity if something went wrong. 

It’s unlikely to happen though; there are no moving parts in a solar powered system so it is lesslikely to fail than a diesel generator. When something goes wrong with a generator there’s often no warning, whereas with solar there’s constant monitoring and calculations about how much longer a particular load can be run for. If an input has failed it’s noticed very quickly and can usually be diagnosed easily.

Myth 3: “Solar’s ok for an acoustic stage but it can’t power a whole festival…”

Several events of around The Green Gathering’s size (5000 capacity) are totally solar powered. Most things can be scaled up and replicated on a larger scale. There are two ways to power a whole festival from solar; at The Green Gathering both versions are used.

1/For centrally located power needs; a temporary power grid is set up, with load sharing between the main power providers. If any one provider is low on storage they can share loads with another provider; when someone is generating surplus power they can take on more loads.

2/For more peripheral needs; independent solar providers are used, correctly matching each solar system to the equipment it will power. This method has advantages in that the need for long power cable runs is eliminated, but it needs careful consideration before the event to correctly match provider to need. Essential consumption is calculated and a worst case weather scenario is used to do the calculations… then if it’s sunny the lights can be brighter, the music louder and the ice machine can chug away because there’s plenty of power!

To run a large festival on solar, the main barrier is likely to be cost. If the budget won’t stretch to it or you can’t find enough reliable providers available for your event date, how about having dedicated solar powered areas within the festival?

Campsites, wellbeing areas, children’s areas, craft areas and workshop zones use relatively little power. Using solar power in these areas decreases noise and air pollution and increases awareness and power security for that area. 

There are also several solar providers who can provide a stage sized correctly for their solar system.

Myth 4: “You can get solar powered stages but what about the caterers and traders, they all need 16A feeds…”

It’s a myth that caterers and traders need a 16A feed. 16Amps at 240 Volts is 3.8 kW. Some caterers may peak at that or even more if they use a lot of electrical equipment and likewise traders could use eight 500W halogen bulbs to max out a 16A feed… but if we are in the business of sustainable festivals then our choice of traders and caterers can and should reflect this!

Traders and caterers unused to running off solar probably have little idea how much power they use but equipment is labelled with peak wattage and users usually know roughly how many hours they need the lights on and how frequently they use other equipment, so needs can be calculated. A good power provider can help traders understand which equipment is power hungry and offer suggestions (use blenders during the day rather than at night, for example). 

Tess explains:

“We have replaced inefficient lighting in stalls with LEDs, and said no to microwaves, bain maries etc… but more often than not stalls are okay to plug their juicers, toasters and food processors in, providing we keep an eye on usage. A 3kW appliance could only require 3kWh a day if it’s only used minimally, which is equivalent to having a constant load of 125W. When we power people we don’t just hand them a plug, they get a lesson in applied power! We have signs reminding them the power is from the sun and to plug anything they can in during the day, when the sun is out. That’s not to say they can’t use power when it’s dark – of course they can, the power from daytime sun is stored in batteries to be used at night – but it’s more efficient to use it during the day, when there’s more sunlight coming in than the batteries can store.”

Generators are often oversized because need is calculated based on peak values rather than actual running values. The advantage with solar is that individual stalls can be monitored and their average consumption worked out over time in kilo-Watt Hours (kWh). 

Myth 4: “We need power before and after the event so must get a generator for the week”

There is nothing more irritating than a generator humming away in an empty field with one light and a laptop plugged in…

Before and after an event are some of the lowest power requirements. Often massive generators are on site, running well under load, burning fuel unnecessarily, keeping people awake and encouraging people to leave lights and equipment on. 

Thinking about how to streamline power use pre and post-event and using solar during these times could cut the amount of fuel used considerably.

Conclusion

  • By only using stall-holders with low power requirements (or even better their own solar power system) we can seriously reduce trader loads.
  • By using food stalls which use gas or wood fired ovens to cook some or all of their food we can seriously reduce caterer loads. Working with caterers to manage appliance use for best power efficiency is very possible.
  • By hiring self-powered solar stages we can reduce stage loads significantly.
  • By telling bands how much power they can have, instead of asking how much they want we can seriously reduce stage loads.
  • By learning what power we actually need where, power provision becomes increasingly efficient and solar power becomes a feasible option.
  • A new way of thinking, of awareness, is all that’s required to move from generators to solar in many, if not all, areas of a festival. When people say it can’t be done what they are really saying is they can’t be bothered. It takes more thinking and organising to be efficient. It takes communication, compromise, maybe a little scaling down, preparedness to work co-operatively and mindfully. 
  • The planet doesn’t have infinite resources and our festivals need to respect and reflect that if they’re to have the feel-good factor we’re all chasing!
  • There’s nothing better than cranking up the music on a sunny Sunday because everyone has used the power thoughtfully throughout the festival. The music actually feels better when you realise it’s coming straight from the sun!

To get in touch with REsource Living visit: www.resourceliving.org

Association of Independent Festivals Launch “No Single Use Tent” Campaign

Organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK, including many Vision:2025 events, have issued a call to retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling ‘festival tents’ as single-use items, which result in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every year.

The call comes as part of a new initiative from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which has also launched a consumer-facing campaign urging festival-goers to ‘Take Your Tent Home’ and ‘Say No To Single Use’. AIF members include some of the biggest and most well-known independent festivals in the country such as Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and End Of The Road.

AIF estimates that each year 250,000 tents are left at music festivals across the UK. Most aren’t collected by charities and can’t be recycled, meaning the vast majority end up in landfill. The average tent weighs 3.5kg and is mostly made of plastic – the equivalent of 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups.

Major retailers have a history of selling cheap tents marketed specifically for festival-use.

Research by Comp-A-Tent, who have been researching festival waste and testing solutions since 2015, suggests that as many as 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco. As part of its ‘Festival Season’ range, Argos offers a four-man tent for £29.99, a sleeping bag or £9.99, an airbed for £14.99 and camping chair for £7.99 – a total of £62.96 (1). Amazon also offers two-man tents for festivals for as little as £19.99 (2).

Research from environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle says that the carbon impact of manufacturing a 3.5 kg tent that ends up in landfill is 25 kg CO2e (3).

AIF’s ten-year report, published in 2018, revealed that 9.7% of people attending its member events had ditched a tent during that year’s festival season, equating to an estimated 875 tonnes of plastic waste – the equivalent of 70 Routemaster buses or eight blue whales.

Whatsmore the “ditch” rate is higher for some other festivals, averaging 1 in 5 according to research with Love Your Tent, Bucks New Uni and AGF, in which case the actual plastic impact is even greater.

The AIF campaign includes an animated educational video that will be displayed across social media for all participating festivals, as well as assets being displayed on screens and at entrances to festival campsites throughout the 2019 season. The Take Your Tent Home campaign follows the Drastic On Plastic campaign, launched by AIF last year in partnership with RAW Foundation, which empowered 65 of the trade body’s member festivals commit to eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021.

In 2018, the first year of the Drastic On Plastic pledge, festivals have reported some significant changes at their events: 93% of signatories ditched plastic straws, 40% banned the sale of drinks in single-use plastic on-site, 40% replaced single-use bar cups with reusable cups, 67% sold branded reusable drinks bottles, and 87% promoted the use of reusable bottles.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture. AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem. The message here is not to buy a more expensive tent – with a single tent carrying the same amount of plastic as more than 8,700 plastic straws, festival audiences can take positive action and reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and reusing it, ensuring that it doesn’t become a single-use item this summer.”

Chair of Powerful Thinking Chris Johnson said: “We’re finally waking up to the climate crisis en masse. The stuff we use is part of the problem – everything has an impact, usually hidden from the user. As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history.”  

Campaign partners:

Julie’s Bicycle: https://www.juliesbicycle.com/
RAW Foundation: http://rawfoundation.org/making-waves/
A Greener Festival: https://www.agreenerfestival.com
Camplight: https://www.camplight.co.uk

References:

(1) https://www.argos.co.uk/static/ArgosPromo3/includeName/festivals-and-camping.htm
(2) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trail-Festival-Camping-Waterproof-
1500mm/dp/B073ZKL7X6/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=festival+tent&qid=1556190338&s=gateway&sr=8-
11

(3) This figure is based on a lifecycle analysis undertaken by Julie’s Bicycle in 2017 on behalf of Comp-A-Tent, partly funded by Innovate UK and in collaboration with festival promoter Festival Republic, circular designer Sophie Thomas, and business developer Matt Elliot. It includes impacts from materials, manufacturing, distribution, and landfill, but excludes audience transport to the shops for buying the tent or transport to the festival site.

Call for Sustainable Power Suppliers to join Powerful Thinking programme

In 2017 Powerful Thinking, a not-for-profit project supporting best practice in temporary energy at events, launched the Sustainable Power Supplier programme, an online resource for event organisers, connecting innovative suppliers with a growing community of festivals committed to smart energy management.The programme was developed after Powerful Thinking’s 3rdannual Industry Green Survey showed that a common barrier to implementing sustainable practices was finding a supplier who could make their goals a reality.

Over 10 power suppliers joined the programme in 2017 – all with a proven track record in supporting their clients in fuel reduction and year on year progress. Now the Powerful Thinking steering group is opening the programme to more power suppliers that can demonstrate innovation, efficiency and smart practices. 

The Powerful Thinking is the live event industry’s online resource hub for energy best practice, with wide engagement from across the sector. 

This programme presents an opportunity for like-minded suppliers to showcase their capabilities and share best practices with potential clients, including the 75 festival who are actively pledged to cut their carbon footprints by 50% by 2025 and well as the Powerful Thinking steering groups network of festival organisers.  For information download the PDFor contact bethan@powerful-thinking.org.uk

We are at a tipping
point as an industry where, if people are up to speed with the choices they have, we will see efficiencies driven by smarter planning and use of lower emission alternatives. The commercial incentives are now very real.” Andy Lenthall, Chair of the Production Services Association & Powerful Thinking steering group member. 

Power Logistics to provide monitoring equipment for all 2019 projects

Power Logistics, one of the event power providers on Powerful Thinking’s Sustainable Power Supplier List, has announced that all projects the company undertakes in 2019 will be supplied with power monitoring equipment and a post-show energy breakdown report. This will be the lead element in the portfolio of sustainable initiatives the company undertakes this year. 

Installing power monitoring equipment at every event site during 2019 will allow Power Logistics to give event clients real-time knowledge and data regarding their energy consumption. Monitoring will be ‘live’ during events and adjustments made where necessary. Once the event comes to an end, the data collected will be used to produce a report that provides event organisers with a breakdown of their energy usage. Analysis of this data will help drive increased power, fuel and cost efficiencies. 

Mike Whitehouse, Power Logistics’ managing director explains: “Offering an effective power monitoring solution to clients has been a key objective for the last few years. Having real-time information on energy usage across all areas of an event site is a powerful tool for event organisers.” 

Power monitoring has been proven to have a positive impact on an event’s carbon footprint; reducing fuel consumption and often the number and size of generators required onsite, which in turn leads to savings on fuel bills.  

See the full Power Logistics Sustainable Supplier Profile here or on their website: www.powerlog.co.uk

Julie's Bicycle creative green offer

Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green offer for Vision: 2025

Julie’s Bicycle are offering Vision: 2025 festivals a 25% discount on their Creative Green certification – a scheme which provides the tools and support for assessing an event’s environmental commitment, understanding and improvement. Creative Green provides event organisers with a results report offering recommendations for next steps and a roadmap to meet their environmental targets. Vision:2025 festivals have pledged to aim to reduce the impacts of their events by 50% by 2025 with Powerful Thinking and the Creative Green certification can help measure progress on this journey.

“Creative Green has been the backbone to our continuous improvement as it provides the data and facts for making comparisons between years, judging the success of new measures, and thus guides decision-making. The new assessment is detailed and user friendly and gives us a robust basis to communicate with all stakeholders about our environmental performance.” Chris Johnson, Shambala Festival Co-founder

The Festival Vision 2025 community can join the Creative Green certification at £1,000+vat when they sign-up by 30th April (a 25% discount). Find out more about the offer in the Creative Green for Vision: 2025 PDF or email will@juliesbicycle.co.uk

4th annual industry green survey results

Industry Green Survey 2018 – The Results

Powerful Thinking’s 4th annual Festival Industry Green Survey for 2018 asked festivals organisers what sustainability practices they were using last year in key areas such as waste, travel, energy and about and about plans for next season and barriers to implementing initiatives. 70 events were represented – and the winner of the free delegate pass to the upcoming Greener Events and Innovations (GEI) conference was Tandem Festival.

The results show that more organisers are committing resources and becoming increasingly savvy about energy efficiencies onsite and reducing environmental impacts across the board. More festivals than ever have appointed a dedicated sustainability role, are checking what happens to their waste when it leaves site, are working with suppliers to increase fuel efficiency, and working with audiences and suppliers on travel. In a year when 65 AIF festivals committed to becoming plastic disposable-free as part of the Drastic on Plastic campaign, we have seen sustainability start to become embedded into the way the sector is delivering events.

Key results

  • 3 out of 4 organisers have checked where their waste is going in 2018, a dramatic increase from previous years 
  • In the 2017 survey 58% of event organisers stated that they were monitoring energy. This has risen to 80% in 2018, demonstrating that the trend toward organisers taking fuel efficiency seriously is now firmly established.
  • Grid connection has emerged for greenfield events an area to explore with more greenfield event organisers stating they are using a grid connection than in 2017.
  • For those events using biofuel, organisers are choosing to use almost exclusively waste-derived fuels
  • 58% of organisers state that they offer or intend to offer carbon balancing on travel, compared to 25% in 2017

Energy

  • 80% monitor fuel use 
  • 20% have Grid connection on green tariff  
  • 40% engaged with supplier to increase efficiency  
  • Of those using biofuel most are using waste-derived fuels

Travel

  • 50% offering dedicated coaches and promoting car share
  • 88% communicate about sustainable travel to audiences but fewer to artists (61%) or suppliers (42%)
  • 58% offer carbon balancing to audiences or intend to 

Waste

73% checked and verified where their waste is going

Top 5 NEW things festivals have implemented in 2018:

  • Worked with our suppliers to look at how they can help us improve sustainability 
  • Made public our environmental policy 
  • Promoted sustainable travel options
  • Have a plan in place to manage energy more efficiently
  • Joined a project or used a consultant 

Other

  • 70% of the festivals now have a sustainability coordinator role was part of their team top help them deliver.
  • 80% now have minimum food standards in place across the site. 

Event organiser priorities

  1. Waste
  2. Energy Use
  3. Travel

Barriers to implementing initiatives

  1. Cost of implementation 
  2. Lack of time as a resource within organisation 
  3. Inability of contractors to deliver 


AGF International Awards – Shortlist Live

A Greener Festival have announced the shortlists for the debut International AGF Awards, which will be hosted following the Green Events & Innovations Conference in partnership with the ILMC on Tuesday 5 March at the Royal Kensington Gardens Hotel, London.

Winners are selected from the detailed AGF assessments, site visits, evidence and analysis by trained sustainable event auditors throughout 2018. All festivals that have entered the awards have worked with A Greener Festival to assess their sustainability initiatives. This included over 40 festivals from 17 countries in 2018. See the full short list:

agreenerfestival.com

Greener Events & Innovations Conference #11

The Green Events & Innovations conference (GEI) returns to the the Royal Garden Hotel next week, Tuesday 5 March, bringing industry leaders and professionals together to discuss environmental and social sustainability at live events.

This year’s new format includes case studies, discussion panels and presentations from around the world, networking breaks, and closing party to increase the opportunity for delegates to connect with the festivals, event organisers, venue owners and sustainability experts of GEI. Check out the full programme and buy tickets: 

agreenerfestival.com

AIF Presents: Sustainability Training Day

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) will host a sustainability training day to offer festival organisers practical tips and information on running more sustainable events on Monday 4 March, at Wilton’s Music Hall, London.

Powerful Thinking’s Tim Benson and Chris Johnson will be speaking around the topic of efficiency in powering events alongside Julie’s Bicycle, NCASS and Energy Revolution alongside AIF members including Boomtown Fair, Shambala and Greenbelt.

Topics will include: green riders, energy supply & consumption, reducing pointless plastics, reusable cup systems, audience transport, eco wristbands, food waste, communicating sustainability and more, through a combination of quick-fire talks and in-depth group-based workshops. AIF Members receive a 50% discount on tickets. 

Find out more and book tickets: www.aiforg.com

Boomtown Fair Tackle Travel Emissions on Sustainability Journey

The team at Boomtown have a strong commitment to running the event sustainably. In 2016 they took the Festival Vision:2025 pledge to act on climate change, pledging to cut the CO2 footprint of the event by 50% by 2025 and targeting areas such as fuel use, waste, food and transport. With audience travel accounting for up to 80% of the average festival’s carbon footprint, it is clearly a key area to focus on. 

Boomtown’s recognition of the need to tackle audience travel lead them to collaborate with the teams behind Kendal Calling, Bluedot, Shambala and Secret Garden Festival to set up Energy Revolution in 2015. The charity works with festivals and their audiences, suppliers and artists to calculate the CO2 emissions from travel to events, reduce it where possible and balance unavoidable emissions with investment in projects that create renewable energy.

Realising that reducing travel related emissions is the first step, Boomtown have a number of initiatives in place to engage their audience suppliers and artists in travelling sustainably. They work with dedicated coach companies and promote discounted ‘Public Transport Saver’ tickets to their audience which include coach and shuttle bus travel and the option to arrive at the event a day early at no extra cost. In fact, everyone who travelled by coach, train, bike or shared their car (3+) is invited to arrive a day early! In 2018 they worked with Red Fox cycling to offer a guided 2-day cycle experience from Bristol to Boomtown and in 2019 they are extending their ‘Boomtown Bike Ride’ by offering a London – Boomtown route.

By incentivising sustainable travel in 2018 they encouraged 35% of audience arrived by coach or train.In 2018 Boomtown gave £1 from every audience car-parking pass to Energy Revolution to invest in renewable energy to help balance CO2 emissions. So far they’ve supported their audience in donating over £10,000 to balance their travel emissions. 

This year they want to increase this positive impact by giving the artists and contractors travelling to the event the chance to balance their travel emissions too.  In 2019 Boomtown are introducing a “Green Ambassador” initiative as part of the artist sustainability campaign for 2019. Artists can pledge to balance all of their travel to and from site in return for being awarded a green leaf emoji next to their programme listing.   

To benchmark travel data, identify new areas to tackle and to help quantify the success of their car-sharing incentive, Boomtown worked with Face Your Elephant to carry out a car park survey. Over two thousand vehicles were surveyed, counting the number of people, the number of vehicles and the fuel type from Wednesday – Sunday.  The results showed that Boomtown effectively managed to gain above average car occupancy on the Wednesday proving the early day entry initiative was successful. 

Find out more about Boomtown’ environmental mission here