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Energy Stream: Shakespeare’s Globe embraces energy efficiency measures with retrofit

Shakespeare’s Globe reduces their energy use by 23%, resulting in a 19% reduction in energy costs.


Shakespeare’s Globe is one of London’s most recognised cultural landmarks.  The performing arts venue hosts more than 1.25 million visitors annually across two theatres: the “Globe Theatre,” a reconstruction of the storied “Globe” playhouse that first opened in 1599 and was used by William Shakespeare; and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – an indoor theatre lit by more than one hundred beeswax candles. 

In 2020, the organisation had planned to demolish and redevelop its West Block office building. However, as the pandemic hit, Shakespeare’s Globe reconsidered and decided to refurbish the building instead, enabling them to incorporate efficient retrofits that would reduce their building’s energy use and carbon emissions. Refurbishing rather than demolishing and constructing new buildings also avoids embodied carbon emissions from material manufacturing and construction processes. (35% of an office building’s carbon emissions are emitted before the building is operational.)

Involvement in the Mayor’s Business Climate Challenge

Shakespeare’s Globe enrolled in the Mayor’s Business Climate Challenge (BCC), an energy efficiency programme which supports businesses to reduce their energy consumption, to accelerate building decarbonisation efforts in London. The BCC helped the Globe to take an integrated approach to energy efficiency across the business, for example by incorporating implementation of retrofit measures in their estate strategy.  Today, sustainability is a core part of the business and they have developed a “green group” within their organisation.

Optimising energy consumption through use of remote controls

An energy audit conducted by specialists from Turner & Townsend highlighted that optimising Shakespeare’s Globe’s Building Management System (BMS) could improve equipment operations monitoring and help reduce energy use.

As Shakespeare’s Globe learned more about energy measurement tools, they began to put their knowledge into practice. The facilities and estates team adopted an online portal to track the performance of their boilers, kitchen appliances and equipment.

They can remotely turn their equipment on and off to avoid using excess energy, and review temperature set points to ensure they are calibrated to the season. The next step will be to link smart meters, now being installed, to the BMS, enabling better tracking of energy in high usage areas. 

23% reduction in energy use, with cost savings of 19%

Shakespeare’s Globe also has two retrofit projects as part of their building renovation works. They are replacing their lighting system with LEDs (a replacement process that is 60 per cent done and has been incorporated into yearly budgeting to replace lighting as it nears its end of life). Furthermore, the organisation is assessing their building envelope to identify and address areas where heat is lost. As they undergo compartmentation works for fire safety and roof repairs, they are incorporating thermal wall insulation to preserve heat and save energy.

So far, Shakespeare’s Globe has reduced their energy use by 23% relative to their 2019 baseline, resulting in a 19% reduction in energy costs.

Next Steps

Shakespeare’s Globe is committed to improving their energy efficiency – but as in other organisations, their sustainability journey is not free of challenges. Instituting long-term behaviour change to reduce energy use in the office can be difficult, and broader usage patterns and waste in the arts industry need to be tackled. For example, balancing the need for new theatrical productions with re-using materials is crucial.

As Shakespeare’s Globe pursues further opportunities to reduce energy use, their learnings will continue to guide them in tackling challenges and enhancing whole-organisation awareness.