Environmental Quality / 2013
AEP Arts and Cultural Environmental Certification
Arts:Earth Partnership (AEP), is a Los Angeles, California based 501 (C)(3) non-profit corporation that was organized in 2008 for the purpose of creating and administering a green business certification program specifically for cultural facilities. We are the “official” administrator for the arts and cultural sector of the Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program alongside the Los Angeles Community College District, the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, and the Los Angeles Visitors and Tourism Board. AEP promotes and works with arts and cultural organizations to integrate comprehensive environmental sustainability into their operations through a certification process. AEP and its partners form a powerful network of arts and arts support organizations committed to finding solutions to the serious environmental challenges that face our communities, our city and our world. The AEP certification process looks at 8 different areas of operations; • Operations and Culture • General Practices • Solid Waste • Water Efficiency and Urban Runoff • Energy Efficiency • Chemical Use and Pollution Prevention • Transportation • Landscape As the message spreads about climate change and the real dangers associated with it we realize that now is the time to make concrete changes that will create real results. AEP is uniquely qualified to lead this effort with experts that have been trained and have a history of working with the arts and sustainability. The sector has largely been ignored to this point and there are large opportunities to empower these facilities to make a difference and expand their mission as a cultural facility to include the environment. No longer will they just be a theater or a gallery. They are a theater or a gallery with a purpose and mission that includes being part of the solution and contributing positively to solutions to mitigate climate change through emissions, waste reduction, and purchasing policies. AEP is not about waiting for others, we are leading, in action and making it happen. “According to the US Census report of 2007 there are 124,624 active cultural and recreational facilities in the US.” This includes for profit and non-profit. Arts and culture provide a unique connection to the general public that other commercial businesses cannot replicate. The mission of a cultural facility is to draw audience from all walks of life and as a result, they reach the broadest diversity of individuals within a community. In another 2006 survey listed in “Creative Capitol,” it notes that the audience base of arts and cultural organizations makes up a substantial 43% of the community. In the greater Los Angeles area that is over 4 million people!
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
In February of 2010, after a couple years of developing the program, honing our business model and having our checklist vetted by various entities, AEP signed a groundbreaking contract with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to assess and then assist all City owned cultural facilities to become green certified businesses.
Since then we have been asked to be a part of Los Angeles official green business certification program, sharing administrative duties with the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) and Los Angeles Visitor and Tourism Board. AEP will assess and administer any business in the arts and culture sector (Museums, Theaters, Art Galleries, Dance Studio’s, Production Offices, Arts related non-profits and Cultural Centers.) LACCD will handle restaurants, garages and general offices and Los Angeles Visitor and Tourism Board will handle green hotels and lodgings. Any business that goes through AEP certification will be recognized as a green business by the City of Los Angeles. We also have the exact same arrangement with the City of Santa Monica and their green business administrator Sustainable Works. This is a powerful new system of greening businesses through non-profits rather then city departments and is unlike any in the country or world.
To date we have 40 members in Los Angeles. You can see a full list here. http://artsearthpartnership.org/members/
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Los Angeles Community College District Los Angeles Stage Alliance Arts for LA Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation Electric Lodge Art and Environment Center Council District 11 of Los Angeles Office of Sustainability in Santa Monica Sustainable Works LADWP Southern California Edison
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
Measuring success for AEP is easy. The more members we have making changes to their organizations to move them towards sustainable operations and daily habits through our process the better. AEP can measure and track the following metrics (this is not a complete list); ∆ kilowatt hours saved through lighting retrofits ∆ gallons of water saved through plumbing and landscaping retrofits ∆ waste reduction through recycling and diverting the landfill ∆ complete elimination of toxic cleaning products ∆ elimination of toxic paint and chemical products ∆ amount of public participation and staff in using alternative transportation to get to the venue. This creates a carbon savings. ∆ tons of universal waste recycled ∆ Stormwater runoff control
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
There are many benefits to adopting sustainable practices. At their museum, art gallery, theater or arts support organization, our member organizations save precious dollars through resource conservation that can be redirected toward fulfilling their missions. They increase productivity by creating a healthy workplace free of toxins and reduce their negative impact on our City and planet by reducing CO2 emissions, energy costs, material and water waste and set an important and visible example for their millions of audience and visitors to follow.
In addition, the adoption of environmentally friendly business practices and attaining a city and state recognized Green Business Certification allows for positive marketing and outreach as well as an opportunity to grow a donor base to include those who champion environmentalism and earth conscious business practices. It’s a snowball effect. Our certification checklist and process has been vetted by the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability, the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, the National Resources Defense Council in Washington D.C. and by the Department of Toxic Substances Control in Sacramento, CA. the governing body that administers and approves all the green business programs operating in the State of California.
The emergence of AEP’s program has and will continue to have a demonstrably positive effect on the health and quality of life for millions of Angelenos every day and a dramatic multiplier effect for the Arts and cultural sector. By joining together hundreds of arts organizations of every aesthetic and type, in every community prosperous and financially challenged, urban and rural, we create a powerful constituency whose direct interaction with the general public can not be overstated. AEP is committed to strict and rigid data collection and will be publishing an annual Los Angeles Arts Environmental Report (LAAER) that details the members’ collective CO2 reductions, water and waste savings and other valuable information to demonstrate the actual impact of the program. This report and the positive actions of our members will have the beneficial outcome of positioning the arts sector as a leader in the emerging environmental field, making them even more attractive for private and public support.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
Success to AEP by the year 2050 is multi-layered. We see ourselves having thousands of arts and cultural facilities certified and every two years continuing to re-certify. Our Vendors Resource Guide will have continued to grow to contain hundreds of trusted environmentally sustainable companies vetted and approved by 3rd party certifications in their sectors. We will be managing various competitions based around environmentally themed art and broken out into different categories to include high school, college and adult artists. Plays, paintings, photography and screenplays will all be explored.
Lastly AEP will have created a policy department which will work on a municipal, state and federal level to implement guidelines for the ways we operate our buildings, purchase products, use energy/water and the other issues contained in our certification process. Our certification process will continue to evolve in order to create a harmonious balance between business and environment. We can have businesses that function with the idea of the triple bottom line (people, profit and planet) and we can all live in a safer, healthier, and cleaner world. All it takes is education, desire and action.