Blog: Introducing the Theatre Green Book

Theatre Green Book Co-ordinator and Theatres Trust Trustee Paddy Dillon gives some background on the new project.

Theatre has been talking for some years about how to move towards more sustainable practice. Julie’s Bicycle, Creative Carbon Scotland, Ecostage, SiPA and many others have raised awareness, educated and campaigned. Theatre-makers and organisations have trialled new materials and practices.

During the pandemic, the Theatre Green Book initiative has emerged to pull together existing guidance and create a shared standard for environmentally responsible theatre.

It’s an urgent need. The climate crisis will change everything we do – and theatre is no exception. If theatre is to have a voice in addressing the most urgent challenge we face, it has to move beyond a traditional practice that makes shows from new materials and – all too often – leaves them in a skip after the final curtain.

The Green Book will have three volumes: Sustainable Productions, Sustainable Buildings and Sustainable Operations. Together, they will provide guidance to move the whole sector towards sustainability.

Sustainable Productions is based on the collaborative input of producers, directors, scenic artists, lighting designers and technicians, set-builders, designers, production managers – and many others, working across the UK, on theatre of all scales. With the encouragement of Julie’s Bicycle, Creative Carbon Scotland, SiPA, Ecostage, the Society of British Theatre Designers, the Association of Lighting Designers, Scene Change and others, sustainability professionals Buro Happold have built on theatre’s collective expertise to create the Green Book. Theatre-makers have generously donated their time. Any costs have been funded from within theatre.

Like the Yellow Book (as the publication is commonly known that sets out standards for the buildings, equipment and management of entertainment premises), the Theatre Green Book is sponsored by Theatres Trust and ABTT, alongside UK Theatre / SOLT, Federation of Scottish Theatre, Theatre and Dance NI, Creu Cymru, Community Leisure UK and others. Like the Yellow Book, it provides a unified standard for the industry. The Theatre Green Book: Sustainable Productions sets clear targets, and gives clear guidance to everyone involved in a production of how to achieve them.

Sustainable Productions is now available through the websites of the organisations listed above or directly at, as a ‘Beta’ version for theatres to trial on re-opening shows. We need that practical feedback to hone the guidance for final release towards the end of the year.

Meanwhile work has now begun on the next volume, Sustainable Buildings, giving guidance on how to make theatre buildings more sustainable. Like the first volume, it will be founded on in-depth consultation, drawing on the sector’s collective expertise through a survey and focus groups.

The final volume, Sustainable Operations, covering front of house, catering, offices etc, will follow to create a comprehensive suite of sustainability guidance for the theatre sector.