Innovation: tools to measure the carbon footprint of cultural events

From museums to theatres, from performing arts to the visual arts, the ecological transition is now part of the roadmap of all cultural sectors. Sustainable solutions, with real potential but still too little shared or disseminated in the sectors, therefore need support to be deployed in a significant way.

Among these solutions, some make use of digital technology with the use of technology to control the environmental impacts of cultural events. Two projects, the result of a collaboration between a company and a player in the cultural world, were the winners of the 2022 edition of the call for innovative digital services projects, launched by the Ministry of Culture (see box), which supports experimentation with new solutions in the cultural sector, accompanies the transformation of the cultural offer and supports players in the sector with high potential for development and innovation.

SoWatt?! focuses on green energy

A sound system that works on solar energy, trailers made of photovoltaic panels capable of operating an entire stage during a concert… Little by little, the world of music is going green and implementing less impact on the environment. ” Many organizers are beginning to take into account issues of waste management, transportation of artists and the public, and water. We are working on energy management, explains Zoé Lebard, general manager of the company MobilVolts, based in the Alpes-Maritimes and which has invested in the solar energy niche since 2016 in the organization of cultural events. The main obstacle is the unknown. This technology is little deployed because there are many received ideas: it does not work, or the autonomy is not great enough. To this, we answer that we dimension our systems to measure and that the efficiency is higher than that of generators. »

In addition to these first solutions, the company wanted to go further and called on the Lyonnais label Jarring Effects, already engaged for several years in its ecological transition both on the phonographic and scenic part with records made with vegan ink, vinyls where PVC is replaced by zinc but also a series of more eco-responsible concerts with a work on the technical sheet and on the modes of travel of the artists. ” We also set up a stage with sound and light powered by MobilVolts with in the end a largely surplus power supply to cover the whole concert. recalls David Morel, president of SPRWD – or Audio Activistes Associés – a structure backed by the label and centered on performing arts. The concept works, but we still have to convince the professionals. ” There is the question of the right balance: how to offer a quality show while being energy sober? Renting a generator is certainly cheaper to rent but it pollutes more. The professionals are up for it, but to go into practice, it’s more complicated. »

MobilVolts and Jarring Effects therefore imagined a year ago So Watt?!, a simulator project for professionals so that they can gauge the energy production of their shows. This simulator will also create “profiles” based on the type of music or weather conditions. All that remains is to collect the data to establish a first base and to establish these different profiles. This will be done during a series of concerts, with the help of 32 sensors placed at strategic points and allowing the quantity of energy consumed to be measured in real time. The data collected will feed So Watt?!, which will then take the form of an ergonomic and synthetic software.

Electricity is not an infinite flow and that’s what we try
to make people understand

To design it, the two entities worked with students from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon. ” It can be used by someone who is not a technician but who works in the event sector », Resumes Zoé Lebard. This tool is also a prevention instrument since it can be used upstream by the organizers in order to estimate consumption and adjust the electrical equipment as best as possible – or even switch to renewable energies – and receive advice. ” Often generators are oversized for the event so as not to overload it. However, electricity is not an infinite flow and this is what we are trying to make people understand “, continues Zoé Lebard.

This simulator is the first brick of the ecological house that MobilVolts wants to build. Once the tool has been developed, it will be deployed in the form of an “intelligent wattmeter”, including for the general public who will be able to find out about the carbon impact of the places they frequent. A last step before the manufacture of a solar scene on a trailer, totally autonomous and capable of performing even on isolated sites.

Impact(s) relies on consultation

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The BMA association – for Blockchain my Art – has also decided to tackle the carbon impact of cultural events. This association, linked to the creation of several festivals in Germany, the Netherlands and France in Toulouse, first developed a tool for measuring financial transparency in the management of festivals, called Fairly. For this, the association relied on the “block chain” methodology, that is to say a large database shared and fed by all its users.

After this first tool, the association wanted to take an interest this time in the ecological impact of musical events. ” We rubbed shoulders with many players in this environment and the subject of sustainable development immediately appeared to be essential. We are now seeing a willingness on the part of institutions to support projects working on these issues. It’s a good sign that the Ministry of Culture considers our project as an innovative solution, it confirms to us that it’s the right time to act », notes Maxime Faget, one of the co-founders.

As with So Watt?!, BMA is now working to remove the last obstacles, in particular that of an analysis method common to the entire field. ” Some sectors such as agri-food or textiles are already well advanced with well-established grids and information circulating quickly. In music, it’s more complicated because there is no common framework. Impact studies are not affordable for all festivals so we have to work on this accessibility. This is the whole objective of the Impact(s) project. First step, establish a calculation methodology. For this, BMA has relied on consultation. ” For this methodology to be legitimate, the sector had to be consulted. The objective is to list all the criteria that make sense in order to establish a list that will constitute the database », notes Maxime Faget, one of the co-founders.

The association therefore relied on a network of six regional federations. Since June, a cycle of regional round tables bringing together professionals such as venue and festival managers has been organized for several months to list these criteria and outline a methodology taking into account the diversity of contexts and actors. ” Depending on whether you are in a rural or urban environment, the criteria are not the same », continues Maxime Faget. Especially since Impact(s) wants to take sustainable development in the very broad sense of the term by relying on its three pillars: environmental, social and territorial. The tool could therefore take into account a wide variety of themes such as payment gaps between men and women or even the impact of the event on the local ecosystem. ” This therefore requires a lot of debate because it is necessary to determine what weight a criterion will have in the indicator », continues Maxime Faget.

At the end of the first part of these regional consultations, the second stage will be initiated with the development of a first version of the tool according to a calculation method taking into account the different criteria. Faithful to the principle of the “chain of blocks”, BMA will develop and then put the calculator online, which will be refined by the second part of the meetings, in the fall. Everything will take a hybrid form, between software, mobile application and website which can eventually be opened up to all artistic structures such as theaters or museums.

The call for projects Innovative digital services

Launched in 2012 by the Ministry of Culture, the Innovative Digital Services call for projects supports experimentation with new digital solutions in the culture sector. This year, for its fifth edition, the selection committee chose sixteen projects from the 81 applications. Each project leader had to present a “proof of concept” in partnership with a cultural actor.
These winners represent the diversity of cultural sectors, ranging from museum heritage to performing arts and cinema. The proposed projects are aimed at both the public and professionals and offer various uses of digital technology such as the use of artificial intelligence to facilitate concert recording or the use of the semantic web to promote the professional integration of students. in art.

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Innovation: tools to measure the carbon footprint of cultural events


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