Making Progress for our Planet

Sustainability targets are integral to our mission and always under review. It’s been that way for a while.

In 2010, we helped to set up the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST), a citywide alliance to tackle sustainability issues in the cultural sector.

The network is now expanding across the region as GMAST. Together, we aim to make our region carbon neutral by 2038.

A key way to support that commitment is to regularly monitor our environmental impact across the building, our programmes and community engagement activities.

We will report annually on everything from artist travel and transport-related emissions to energy management on site and our steps to more responsible procurement.

The challenge is to go beyond minimising waste or a carbon footprint. How can we make a positive impact through the work that we do, alongside our collaborators here and abroad and with the people we serve?

How do we move towards a more equitable future? Let’s start by committing to constant improvement and learning from others. One conversation, one commission, one innovation at a time.

We will also take the lead at Factory International, empowering those around us to play their part. It’s a team effort.

Photo by Lee Baxter


  • MIF was the first international festival to be independently certified as meeting BS 8901, the original British Standard for Sustainable Event Management.
  • We helped to develop ISO 20121, the international standard for sustainable event management.
  • We recycled almost all the plastic used for creative projects in MIF21, some of which became a substitute for plywood sheets. We also donated 175 PVC lamppost banners to Plastic Shed, which runs creative recycling workshops.
  • The first audience travel surveys took place at Sea Change, which will help us to better understand how people come to our events. Out of 300 respondents, 19% came by car. We hope to encourage more guests to take public transport, walk, cycle, scoot or roll their way to Aviva Studios, the home of Factory International.
  • All Festival Square food traders offered plant-based options at MIF21 including vegan pop-up Stellar. Meanwhile, Eat Well MCR’s stalls and supper clubs were full of local produce and Honest Crust added lots of seasonal toppings to their wood-fired pizzas and summer salads.
  • All our permanent staff will be offered accredited carbon literacy training by the time Aviva Studios opens. They will understand the potential impact of their role and how to reduce their carbon footprint. We are also developing sustainability training modules within Factory Academy.
  • Aviva Studios is on course to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating of ‘Very Good’, in line with Manchester City Council guidelines. BREEAM measures our progress against 103 different sustainability criteria covering the management of the project, materials and delivery.
  • Our spaces are insulated with a very high thermal mass to minimise the amount of energy required for heating. High-performance glazing also reduces the amount of energy required for cooling.

Read our Environmental Sustainability Policy and ongoing commitments below.

Next Steps

  • Establish systems and monitoring to accurately measure our operational carbon footprint at Aviva Studios. Then set a baseline by 2024 and plot a realistic path to net zero. Our ambition is to get there by 2028.
  • We will test emerging technology as it arrives, including renewable energy systems, battery storage and alternative production materials.
  • Introducing a Zero to Landfill policy and avoiding single-use plastics.

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