Here at ARC, we challenge ourselves to make a difference to the wider world. Last week, we spent some time talking about our environmental impact, particularly looking at our energy consumption. It also made me wonder how efficiently I was using my personal energy…
Like many arts organisations, we are working hard to try and reduce our energy consumption, as part of a wider commitment to becoming more environmentally sustainable.
On Friday we celebrated the arrival of our annual Display Energy Certificate, which showed we had improved our building’s energy efficiency by 14% since last year.
Our building is fantastic, but it was designed and built before climate change was in everyone’s consciousness, and at a time when energy prices were very low.
Managing our use of energy has therefore always been a challenge – there was a time when utility costs amounted to almost 10% of our turnover. However, thanks to Arts Council England and Stockton Borough Council, successful investment in replacing equipment – particularly lighting – with low-energy alternatives has made a significant impact.
We were therefore delighted to see that our rating has once again reduced, from 57 last year to 49 this year – 100 is deemed average, so the lower the better. In fact, over the past three years, we’ve achieved a 27% reduction in our rating. This reduction is backed up by energy usage figures which show a 37% decrease in CO2e tonnes, and a 20% cost saving.
We’re not complacent, as we know there is a lot more we can do, individually and collectively, but celebrating progress is a great motivator for behavioural change.
This led me to wonder what a 14% improvement in my own personal energy efficiency would look like. How much mental and emotional energy do I waste every day, getting worked up about things that really aren’t important (like someone’s tweet)? What could I achieve, in terms of my own wellbeing, if I put that energy into things that are rejuvenating and replenishing instead?
It feels like the change in behaviour around how we use the planet’s natural resources has grown out of a recognition that they will run out. If I imagine that I only have a finite amount of this energy, would I use it more effectively?
That’s my mission for next week – each time I feel like I am drawing on my mental and emotional energy, to stop and consider whether it is an efficient use of it. Is this particular engagement worth expending energy on, or I am perhaps better to let it go and move on?