Green Street Catering

Gas and cost saving techniques for catering aren’t just hot air.

Green Street Catering came to dramatically increase their energy efficiency when they realised just how much money was being lost due to the inefficient use of fuels in their service at festivals and outdoor events in the UK. Tim Spence, of Green Street Catering, realised that only four or five hours of the day required all the gas cooking facilities to be on, out of the eighteen hour trading day. Staff were re-trained to be vigilant in only igniting new wok burners when other burners were at full capacity, and to not have them all running all throughout the day as they had done previously. This saved an estimated £6,000 in one summer, which is equal to the cost of a pitch for a food trader at a large festival. This new approach, including setting new standards as well as retraining staff, more than halved gas consumption and costs at Green Street Catering.

Green Street Catering were even winners of an award for best idea for reducing energy and water use, as part of the Green Traders Award 2010 at Glastonbury run by Greenpeace, with the help of NCASS (the Nationwide Caterers Association). Green Street Catering are a prime example of just how important energy efficiency and staff engagement and participation are in improving sustainability in energy provision at festivals and outdoor events.

Electric Pedals

Pedal power energy, environmentalism, engagement, education and art.

Electric pedals came about as a solution to engaging people in an understanding and appreciation of resources and energy consumption. The simplicity of the idea is what first captured Colin Tonks’ imagination: you pedal, it generates electricity! The realisation of how effective this simple process of cause and effect is what got them started. What makes them different to many other pedal powered renewable energy alternatives at outdoor events is that people can bring their own bikes along and it can be attached to the generator there and then. They see this interactive approach to energy provision at festivals as a way to engage people, including children, in thinking about our energy supply and the alternatives to fossil fuels that are available.

Electric Pedals describe themselves as a group of artists, physicists, educationalists & environmentalists using bicycles to educate, helping to build community spirit while giving a little hug to the planet. They have seen year on year growth in interest in the sustainable service they supply. In recent years their cycle powered cinema has seen high demand from local councils for various creative productions and educational activities centred on sustainable energy. They also branched out with the development of an innovative pedal powered rucksack cinema that is bringing educational messages to some of the poorest and most remote parts of the world.

In the future they hope to teach people more broadly how to reduce waste in all its forms. They want to share skills and equip people with the know-how they need to live sustainably.

Bike-powered: interactive and innovative energy provider

Reaction Sound System

Bike-powered: interactive and innovative energy provider

Reaction Sound System (RSS) use audience participation to power small to medium-sized stages with specially designed bike generators. The audience can see how much power the pedalled bikes have created through responsive meters that show how much energy is available in the storage system.

RSS was developed as part of an on-going project to create a small and efficient sound system that is louder for less energy, can travel lightly and that can harness the muscle-power and enthusiasm of the audience to power the show. What began as a curio act at festivals is now a reliable and sustainable sound system that engages the audience with event sustainability by involving them in the practicalities of powering a stage.

RSS now appears at 8 or more large events each year, including the main reggae stage at Eden Festival, a live & DJ stage at Alchemy, the Cocoon stage at Shambala and at many other smaller festivals and events.

RSS began in the summer of 2009 when they trialled 3 bikes, two ‘tyre and roller’ systems and one ‘belt drive’ system to create power for their sound system. They found the belt drive system to be more efficient and with the help of funding in 2010 they built 5 more bikes, each with generators rated at up to 300 watts. RSS invested in finding the most efficient speaker system and custom-built US designed line array, horn loaded speakers (designed to make sound hold its proportion over distances). These efficiency measures meant that the energy from 6 cyclists could provide quality sound for audiences of up to 2000, in tents as long as 60 meters. With 3 adults pedalling hard the speakers can provide enough good quality sound to cater for around 200 people.

Sound systems are customarily measured in power, under the assumption that a larger energy capacity equates to a louder rig. However this assumes all rigs run at equal efficiency and doesn’t take Sound Pressure Level (SPL) or quality into account. This makes the RSS hard to compare to normal battery or diesel-generator powered rigs but, to put it’s efficiency in context, a standard small PA sound system needs 16 watts to match the output RSS can achieve from just 1watt!  Although not required, a second stream of power can come from backup batteries, putting an extra 300 watts in to help the cyclists which is useful for engineers during during the headline performances or brief lulls and sound checks.

If everyone gets off the bikes at once it takes around 3 minutes for the 20 segment LED power meter to go from full to empty. RSS occasionally let the charge level drop so that the music stops completely in order to demonstrate the audiences’ vital role in the show. From empty, it takes about 1 minute of cycling to get the system operational again and they often use audio samples from well-known performers and a compère to encourage people on the bikes.

RSS are on a mission to evolve sustainably. They have built two new bikes for the summer of 2016 meaning they now have 8 bikes and additional capacity for energy and volume. They have also added a compact modern solar-powered Lithium-Ion battery bank, which they will use to power stage lights, processors and DJ kit, so that more of the pedal power is directly available for powering the speakers.

Many thanks to Reaction Sound System for providing the information for this case study.


Shambala festival 2015

Shambala Festival

Success in renewable energy

Over the last five years, Shambala has consistently reduced their fuel dependency by transitioning to renewables and improving on efficiency. In 2013, Shambala was powered by 93% WVO bio-diesel, 1% solar and 6% red diesel – 100% of which was consumed by tower lights. The ambition to be 100% renewable was achieved in 2014 by using biofuel and solar hybrid systems across the site. Onsite biodiesel consumption was reduced by 20% from 2013 to 2014 by using hybrid systems, and there was a 380% kWh increase of renewable energy, which included stages run completely on solar and pedal power.

To assist in reducing the over-specification of generators, Shambala works with their power supplier to gather the power requirements of all end-users. It is also built into their contract that fuel savings are expected year-on-year, with a fixed fee on biofuel costs to create an incentive for the contractor to reduce usage wherever possible. In addition Shambala stipulate detailed energy monitoring throughout the event, a generator-by-generator post event report, and recommendations for future efficiency gains.

In 2015, the set-up included 22 bio-diesel generators, the full range of Firefly’s Cygnus Hybrid Power, 35 portable solar fold-arrays and 10 power packs. All of the site lighting was LED, 12km of festoon lighting and 105 LED Floods; the tower lights were all HPG.

Shambala Festival has reduced its energy-related GHG emissions per audience day by 39.5% between 2013 and 2014, and has reduced its overall onsite carbon footprint by 81% over 5 years. In 2015, energy (including bottled gas for traders) accounted for 19.6% of the onsite carbon footprint and only 8.53% of the overall footprint when including travel.

An analysis of the costs of energy at the festival over seven years shows that budget per person per day for energy has not increased in real terms, representing a saving if inflation and fuel costs rises are accounted for. Whilst the costs of certain items of equipment hire have been higher comparable to traditional diesel generators in some years, the reduction in total equipment requirements and generator sizes — due to efficiency savings — and in fuel use has outweighed these resulting in cost savings overall.

Thanks to Shambala for the information for this case study.