Carbon footprint of Finnish National Opera and Ballet

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet is a national art institution, offering opera and ballet performances and other events to audiences of all ages. With guest performances, school operas, recordings, and live streams as well as television and radio broadcasts, it delivers extraordinary experiences around Finland and the world. In terms of personnel, the FNOB is a medium-sized opera and ballet company. 

We calculated the carbon footprint of Finnish National Opera and Ballet. The calculation was done for the year 2019, following the standards of GHG Protocol. A carbon footprint report was the result of the calculation and it presents e.g. the content of the calculation, calculation method, results and proposals for actions to reduce the carbon footprint. 

The calculation was carried out to support the draw up of the new environmental program 

The manager of FNOB’s stage property room, Tapio Säkkinen, explains that finding out the carbon footprint of the organization was important, so that the management can set the overall picture for the environmental work. After the calculation, the management drew up a new environmental policy for years 2021-2023, where is stated that responsibility is one of the key values of Finnish National Opera and Ballet. The main goals of the environmental program are that FNOB is a international pioneer of developing the environmental responsibility in the field of performing arts and pursuing the carbon neutrality in as fast schedule as possible within the limits of resources. 

All the operations and scopes of the year 2019 were taken into account in the calculation 

According the GHG Protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions of the organization are divided into three scopes: Scope 1 (greenhouse gas emissions caused by own operations), Scope 2 (emissions caused by production of purchased energy) and Scope 3 (indirect greenhouse gas emissions in different sectors). 

The carbon footprint of the organization was calculated in the way that all the operations and scopes of the Opera in 2019 were taken into account. In addition to Opera House, the warehouses and Ballet School were taken into account in the calculation. The Opera wanted to find out the present state of the carbon footprint caused by its own operations and the operations of its value chain. For this purpose, the operations were taken into account as widely as possible and all the Scope 1, 2 & 3 categories, that Opera has operations, were included in the calculation.   

"Based on the carbon footprint calculation, for example, in the stage property room we have been able to identify the emission sources and their order and now we can influence better the low-carbon production of the set," Säkkinen states. 

Calculation showed the most significant emission sources 

The calculation showed, that the most significant emission source was the movement of the crowd, which formed 63 % of total emissions. Finnish National Opera and Ballet is an international operator, whose performances people come to see around Finland and the world. 

Säkkinen tells, that development proposals have been done regarding the movement of the crowd to reduce the emissions. For example, it would be possible to negotiate with Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) about possibility for ticket that would go on HSL vehicles. In addition to that, proposals have been done regarding a carbon neutral ticket, which would enable a compensation of emissions caused by traveling. 

If the movement of the audience is ignored in the calculation because of the annual variation, and the focus is in the Opera’s own operations, the greatest emissions are caused by purchased products and services, which share was 56 %. Second largest emission source was caused by capital goods with a share of 14 %. When looking at the emissions of products, services and capital goods between set, stage and costumes, it was noticed that for set most of the emissions are from the purchase of metal products, for stage from electronics, and for costumes from the procurement of fabrics and textiles.  

According to Säkkinen, the results are a little bit surprising.  

"What was quite surprising was the emissions of metal products. Even though in the annual level the purchase of metal products represents less than 10 % of the annual set material purchases, they were still the largest emissions. Also it was a little bit surprising that the business travels were divided roughly half between own personnel and visiting artists," says Säkkinen. 

The management, facility department, and stage property room considered development proposals in a backcasting workshop to reduce the carbon footprint 

In addition to the carbon neutral ticket and HSL cooperation, the opera's backcasting workshop discussed e.g. making a low or zero-carbon pilot production, increasing co-productions with different opera houses, circular economy possibilities for sets, increasing remote work, and employee bicycles. 

With the facility department, conversations were held about e.g. extending the solar panels located on the roof of the Opera House, green roofs and outdoor plants as carbon sink, new waste management infra to reduce mixed waste, and management of the energy-optimized use of the property, which would lead to using energy only when necessary. 

Regarding the sets, conversations were held about e.g. material efficiency as for plastic, wood and metal, local procurements, joint procurements inside own organization and with other theatres as well as low carbon set construction and its management.  

Opera has also considered updating the carbon footprint calculation with data of the year 2023 in order to see, what the actions have achieve. 

The calculation has also attracted attention internationally 

Säkkinen believes that the results of the carbon footprint calculation will be also used in international cooperation. 

"I think that this subject will also figure in the international level, because, as far as I know, we are the first theatre in Finland that has done the carbon footprint calculation. The calculation has also attrected international interest, for example, we are going to discuss with the stage property room manager of the Gothenburg Opera and the technical manager of Royal Swedish Opera about eco issues and the results of our carbon footprint calculation. We have also held conversations with Amsterdam’s National Opera & Ballet," Säkkinen states. 

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