HOME Manchester: Carbon Pioneers

HOME Manchester: Carbon Pioneers

By Home


HOME demonstrates environmental commitment and leadership from rooftop honeybee hives and sustainable procurement to carbon literacy training and creative programming. HOME not only shows what positive environmental change looks like, they share and inspire others too – their peers, their neighbours, their communities – locally, nationally and beyond.

A purpose-built centre for film, theatre and contemporary visual art, HOME opened their doors on First Street in Manchester city centre in 2015. HOME demonstrates environmental commitment and leadership across the board – from rooftop honeybee hives and sustainable procurement to carbon literacy training and creative programming. HOME not only shows what positive environmental change looks like, they share and inspire others too – their peers, their neighbours, their communities – locally, nationally and beyond.

We believe we have a key role to play in demonstrating environmental leadership through championing best practice and amplifying creative responses that support a move towards an environmentally sustainable future.

Alison Criddle, Sustainability and Projects Co-ordinator, HOME Manchester

HOME has won an array of environmental awards including the Manchester Culture Award 2019 for Promotion of Sustainability and Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Green 2019 Award for Best Multi-Arts Centre.

“HOME are thrilled to receive the Creative Green Best Multi-Arts Centre award – a testament to the collaborative action of our entire team and our ongoing commitment to drive change as part of a cultural ecology.”

Jon Gilchrist, Executive Director, HOME Manchester

HOMEs for bees

In an effort to support biodiversity in Manchester city centre, HOME has established a rooftop home to support at-risk pollinator species. Situated above the building’s cinemas are two honeybee hives, surrounded by wildflower planting to provide immediate forage for bees, and rainwater harvesting to make good use of the region’s frequent downpours!

The project was made possible through fundraising, where past and present HOME Environmental Group members, other staff members and volunteers visited bee-themed hotspots across Manchester (the worker bee being the city’s emblem). The £1,000 they raised was matched by HOME, enabling them to purchase materials and beekeeping equipment and train four staff as apiarists at Manchester District Beekeeper Association. Not everything was purchased new. The team repurposed old theatre lights, stage props and exhibition materials, including oil drums and old washing machine drums as planters.

HOME’s staff apiarists inspect the hives regularly and continue to develop their learning, through a local network of urban beekeepers. They post regular beekeeping updates through social media and even live stream beehive activities on their website.


Carbon Literacy training

Carbon Literacy training is at the heart of HOME’s staff engagement and training strategy. They are the first arts venue in the world to have trained 100% of their team in Carbon Literacy. This was achieved by making Carbon Literacy a requirement at induction and having team members certified to deliver in-house workshops. HOME is also committed to ensuring all new starters become carbon literate within their first six months.

Providing tangible tools and skills, the training makes the climate emergency relevant to staff members’ day-to-day lives and empowers them to take action and builds their confidence in communicating about environmental sustainability with peers, family, friends and visitors. The training sessions also help to identify new environmental actions, for example introducing HOME-branded KeepCups, now sold at the HOME bookshop and ground floor bar, where customers using reusable cups are offered discounts on hot drinks. A further action resulting from the training was the film team’s introduction of green themes as criteria in their programming selection.

HOME has been advising and supporting members of Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) to produce their own Carbon Literacy training. In 2017, the training was tailored to HOME and the Manchester cultural sector, deepening their capacity to share knowledge and inspire action across their community. The impact of the training has been recognised by other arts venues and businesses outside of the cultural sector. HOME shares its learning – having trained employees from over 40 organisations including neighbouring businesses, their own contractors and have developed a bespoke training package offer.

I really appreciated the opportunity to attend a session of HOME’s staff carbon literacy training. As well as being useful to me as an individual, and a model to potentially look at for LTC theatres, the day was an opportunity to informally touch base on shared challenges with HOME.

Natalie Highwood, London Theatre Consortium

In October 2019, HOME’s trainers developed and delivered Carbon Literacy training for 15 culture sector representatives from five European cities, partners of C-Change, a European network on cultural action on climate change led by Manchester. The partners will be delivering their own tailored version of carbon literacy training for the culture sector in each of their cities in 2020.

Suppliers and services

HOME’s emphasis on sourcing locally, not only supports a local and regional community of businesses and creatives, it also helps reduce transport and travel impacts. Their café bar and restaurant sources seasonally available produce from both regional suppliers and local businesses and the majority of the food is prepared from scratch on site.

Working with the Business Growth Hub they have established Sustainable Procurement Surveys. Asking current and potential suppliers and contractors about their environmental credentials also enables HOME to engage in bigger conversations across different sectors.

HOME have committed to eliminate single-use plastic by 2020 and have a Zero-Waste-to-Landfill policy. Current initiatives include: fully recyclable takeaway food packaging, having all in-house catering waste composted, recycled or converted into waste-to-energy biofuel, and a commitment to reusing and redistributing 100% of exhibition materials and building elements.

Autumn 2019 saw HOME and Seacourt (Planet Positive Printing) team up to run the closed loop vinyl alternative for their ‘Not Just Bollywood’ film season. This fits in with their no-single use plastic 2020 ambitions and is a perfect example of exchange and sustainable procurement. Seacourt now produce HOME’s printed seasonal programme guides, and long-standing local signage provider Trafford Signs have sourced a vinyl alternative, allowing HOME to continue to support local business in their own sustainable initiatives.

Creative programming

In addition to engaging in green conversations with visitors, HOME’s programming features creative work which contribute to awareness-raising and discussions on sustainability, social responsibility and the environment. Examples include hosting screenings for the UK Green Film Festival and Phil Collins’ solo show Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrong featuring a major new video piece of a post-apocalyptic landscape, Delete Beach, addressing the interconnections between political, environmental and societal instability.

Pre-cinema adverts and digital signage around HOME’s building share green news and achievements, whilst the in-house independent publications company Cornerhouse Publications distributes a range of art, ecological and climate-conscious books. Finally, HOME’s shop product range supports local artists, creatives and independent makers and they are engaging with suppliers to go plastic-free.

Talking, walking and travelling green

The twice-yearly HOME Green News newsletter provides information on environmental projects and programming as well as the environmental news or background behind them. A regular environmental column in the weekly Team Brief shares local, national and international environmental news and opportunities, and environmental actions people can take in their personal lives. Other staff activities include swapshops and plant-based single use plastic-free staff lunches and staff cinema screenings of environmentally-themed films and documentaries. A Green News noticeboard – a ‘cast-off’ from Contact Theatre – in the green room encourages visiting creatives and volunteers to get involved.

Under its Sustainable Travel Policy, HOME advocates for the use of Skype and video-conferencing to reduce long-distance travel and encourages national and European travel by train. Ideally located to be reached by public transport, cycling or on foot, HOME actively encourages staff and visitors to travel sustainably to and from the venue. Their work with Transport for Greater Manchester Travel Choices allows them to survey staff travel and improve practice. Each staff member receives a personalised travel pack to help them with their journeys. Bike pool schemes, bicycle maintenance and training workshops and lockers and showers make it easier for staff members to cycle to work. As part of Corridor Manchester Sustainable Travel Group, HOME actively promotes and supports local sustainable travel initiatives, such as the Greater Manchester Walking Festival.

Building reporting and performance

As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, HOME regularly reports their environmental performance and carbon footprint through Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green Tools, while also reporting to Manchester City Council. They aim for full transparency by sharing their annual carbon footprint on their sustainability webpage.

The HOME Environmental and Sustainability Action Plan, informed by discussions in Carbon Literacy training, is embedded in the organisation’s key performance indicators. This ensures that core environmental issues and initiatives are monitored, benchmarked and fully embedded in HOME’s operations and activities.

Their building achieved a Buildings Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) ‘Very Good’ (55-69%) rating, a major achievement for a complex new building that serves many different functions. Building management measures include a Building Management System that allows for real-time regulation of heating and ventilation, an internal booking system that prevents unused spaces from using power unnecessarily. HOME also purchases its electricity on a 100% renewable electricity contract.

HOME is one of 30 organisations participating in Spotlight – part of Arts Council’s England’s Environmental Programme focusing on building energy management and carbon reduction. Through Spotlight support from Julie’s Bicycle and peer learning and exchange events, HOME is setting science-based energy and carbon reduction targets and developing its approach to energy monitoring, management and action to ensure it can achieve them.

Accelerating impact

In October 2018, as part of the MAST consortium, HOME was accepted into the first round of the Accelerator Programme, a new strand of Arts Council England’s Environmental Programme focused on advancing the sector’s environmental practice and innovation. The consortium aim is to map the journey that the city’s cultural sector would need to undertake to support Manchester in achieving its zero-carbon 2038 target. As a first step, MAST did a workshop session on zero-carbon culture road-mapping, facilitated by Julie’s Bicycle, with the results captured in visual minutes. Accelerator also allows HOME to share their insights and learning with their peers, a critical part of a roadmap for change.

Spotlight has enabled us to see what reductions we need to make and supports us to ensure this is achievable. This we feel is further supported by Accelerator where we engage and collaborate on solutions to zero carbon with the cultural sector.”

Debbie Bell, Building and Environment Manager, HOME Manchester

Sustaining the future

HOME continues to explore ways to implement environmental best practice and lead the sector by example, and share its learnings and insights through involvement with groups such as MAST, the First Street Sustainability Forum, the European C-Change network – and through their sustainability webpage.

At HOME we hold ourselves accountable for our actions in the face of climate emergency. Our environmental programming and learning create space to ask difficult questions and inspire change. With sustainability embedded across the organisation, every member of the HOME team has a responsibility to act. We continue to engage all in the journey to a net-zero Manchester and a creative green future for all.

Debbie Bell, Building & Environmental Manager

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Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2021