News / Colston Hall

Bristol concert hall becomes first in UK to make carbon neutral pledge

By ellie pipe, Thursday Oct 3, 2019

A multi-million-pound transformation of the soon-to-be-renamed Colston Hall poses the perfect opportunity to set a bold precedent on sustainability, say bosses.

Bristol Music Trust, the charity that runs the historic venue in the heart of the city, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030.

It is the first concert hall in the UK to make such a commitment and follows in the footsteps of the council, which revised its target last year following a motion put forward by Green councillor and parliamentary candidate Carla Denyer.

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Read more: Bristol declares climate emergency and pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030 


We The Curious and the University of Bristol also helped blaze a trail nationally by each declaring a climate emergency.

Louise Mitchell says Bristol Music Trust takes its role in the city very seriously

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, made the formal announcement on Thursday, October 3, saying: “At this stage in our transformation, we are in a prime position to put environmental and sustainability targets centre stage.

“Our target is ambitious but absolutely realistic based on how we, as an organisation and our key partners, are embracing sustainability.

“We have been at the heart of Bristol’s arts and culture scene for over 150 years and we take our commitment to the Bristol community and our role in the city very seriously. This extends beyond the delivery of our performance and education programmes with our responsibility to make a difference and lead the way in how our sector can reduce our environmental impact.”

Bristol Music Trust bosses say the £48.8m transformation of the venue puts in a strong position to make this commitment now. Together with key delivery partners, the team plans to build on current sustainable practices and take immediate actions needed to finalise a detailed delivery plan by autumn 2020 to achieve this ambition.

Tim Westwell says the Colston Hall’s education programme helps grow opportunities through music

Co-founder of Pukka Herbs Tim Westwell has been appointed as a new trustee of Bristol Music Trust and will play a key role in the delivery of the ambition. Pukka declared a climate emergency in September and Tim says sustainability has long been on the agenda for the B-corp company.

He said: “I was attracted to Bristol Music Trust because, while it is building a wonderful physical space through the transformation that will be sustainable and help to deliver carbon neutrality for the trust, it is also developing the most inspiring education programme that touches the lives of many thousands of people; growing children’s life opportunities through access to music.”

Building contractor Willmott Dixon, which has been carbon neutral since 2012, will also play a key role in the delivery process.

Julia Barrett, the chief sustainability officer for Willmott Dixon, says “The UN Climate Action Summit was a timely reminder of the urgent action needed to tackle global warming.

“As well as action taken by nation states to reverse the rise in carbon emissions to safeguard our future generations, business too needs to play a part. That’s why it’s important to see the leadership shown by Bristol Music Trust in driving this agenda by aiming to be the first carbon neutral concert hall in the UK.”

Colston Hall is set to reopen in 2021

Bristol Music Trust will take the best part of a year to finalise a carbon neutral plan, focussing on some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a blueprint, particularly in relation to quality inclusive education, work on sustainable cities and communities and climate action.

There will be a focus on energy consumption to increase the use of renewables throughout the building and the trust will build in new sustainable features during the transformation.

New photovoltaic panels will be added to the roof of the main hall, which will generate approximately 26,000kws of energy per year– making a saving of 11 tonnes of Co2 against current energy usage. The transformed hall will be updated with new control technology to plan energy use and prevent any waste, while energy-saving LED lighting will be installed throughout the building.

There will also be an emphasis on recycling, removing single-use plastic and turning food waste into energy.

Bosses say the biggest challenge will be controlling the supply chain and procurement processes, but hope to use their platform as a catalyst for change.

The plan will also include a carbon-offsetting programme and has the backing of Arts Council England, which committed more than £10million of National Lottery money into the transformation of Colston Hall.

Read more: In photos: Colston Hall mid-refurbishment

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