Become more eco-responsible... by going clubbing

·4-min read
More and more nightclubs in Europe are rethinking their operations to become more eco-friendly.

The role of nightclubs is no longer simply to provide entertainment; they could play a part in the fight against global warming. While the COP26 climate conference is in full swing in Glasgow, many nightclubs are launching innovative initiatives to make their operations more "green." We take a look.

Glaswegian nightclub SWG3 is getting into the rhythm of the COP26 event. Timing its new initiative to coincide with the climate change summit in the Scottish metropolis, the night spot inaugurated a promising installation that can recycle the heat released by clubbers on the dance floor. The technology, called "Bodyheat," captures the warmth given off by people in the venue using heat pumps installed around the club. It is then piped to boreholes where it can be stored for days, weeks or even months.

This new energy recycling system was inaugurated on November 7, at a party hosted by American DJ and activist Honey Dijon. It could allow SWG3 to considerably reduce its energy consumption and save 70 tonnes of CO2 per year. And for good reason: the thermal energy emanating from the human body is, on average, measures 100 and 120 watts. This is equivalent to the power consumption of a computer for one hour.

The SW3G nightclub is not the only nightlife venue attempting to turn the dance floor into a renewable energy source. Rotterdam's WATT club is popular with Dutch night owls for both its music programming and its commitment to the environment. One of the club's features is a "sustainable dance floor," a dance floor whose tiles store the energy released by the clubbers' steps or swaying. Energy Floors, the Dutch company behind this futuristic dance floor known as a Sustainable Dance Floor, estimates that each dancer can produce 5 to 20 watts depending on their activity in the club.

Making environmentally friendly nightclubs cool

These initiatives may seem anecdotal in the face of the huge quantities of energy used by the nightlife sector, but they are helping build awareness among clubbers of the need to make nightclubs more "green." "People want to go out but not be lectured on how to live their lives. By making sustainability cool, we can get the message across to a wider audience," Michel Smit, founder of the Rotterdam electronic music festival and now CEO of Energy Floors, told the Guardian back in 2007.

Several European cities have set themselves the same goal, with Berlin in the lead. The German capital aspires, like the rest of the country, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. An ambitious project that requires the participation of nightclub owners and other professionals in the nightlife sector. It must be noted that the Berlin electro scene is particularly energy-intensive: a nightclub emits, on average, 30 tons of CO2 per year, according to BUND-Friends of the Earth Germany.

Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, the German NGO has teamed up with the clubliebe e.V. association and the Berlin Club Commission to help the city's nightclubs become more environmentally friendly. Through the Clubtopia project, they are organizing seminars to connect party tourism professionals with sustainability experts. The goal? To encourage the nightlife world to take concrete climate-friendly measures such as the use of LED lights and better waste management.

"A medium-sized club consumes about 1,000 kwh on a weekend - that's as much as a thrifty single household consumes in a year. With the Clubtopia project, we want to achieve a significant improvement in the climate footprint of clubs," outlined Matthias Krümmel, Energy Consulting & Speaker for Climate Protection Policy at BUND-Friends of the Earth Germany.

Organizers of the Clubtopia project hope that this initiative will encourage the nightclub industry to become more environmentally responsible... as well as clubbers themselves. Konstanze Meyer, project coordinator for Clubtopia, is passionate about this. "We need to protect [nightclubs], protect them so that future generations can still create art and that people can still come together there. And it also means that we can use culture as a vehicle to get sustainability across in every aspect," she said in an episode of the podcast "Politics of the Dance Floor." "We can for example transmit good ecological behavior to people that go to clubs [...] and [show them that] the experience is still as as fun even if you are a sustainable club."

Caroline Drzewinski

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