The Stage Bus Director, Andrew Teverson, discusses sustainable engineering for the events industry.
Sustainable engineering, the process of designing or operating systems so that they use energy and resources sustainably, is on the rise throughout the world as humanity becomes increasingly aware of the effect that industry has on the planet. The Stage Bus, owned and operated by Andrew Teverson, is bringing the practice to the events industry in the form of portable, solar powered stages.
One major roadblock in the way of widespread solutions however is people’s perception of the technology, as Andrew demonstrates: “We’ve been doing solar powered stages for over 10 years now. The biggest challenge originally was that no one believed it was possible, and secondly, the technology didn’t really exist. And what did exist was incredibly expensive. Our original stage was designed around understanding energy efficiency. People are very bad at understanding how much power different things use, even people in the industry. About seven years ago we were doing an event where Peter Andre was performing. His sound guys showed up and insisted that they needed a 32 amp supply to plug in his sounds desk. In reality, there were about four or five amps of power needed.”
This over-estimating of the power necessary often leads to event organisers overlooking more sustainable solutions as they incorrectly believe that such technology will not have the capacity to run their event.”
In spite of this misconception, the use of sustainable solutions at events has seen an increase in recent years as the industry becomes more aware of its effect of the environment: “You do still occasionally get questions like: ‘what happens if there’s no sun?’ but there are three things that have changed. One is that being green has become fashionable. Ten years ago people might like to pretend they were green but they wouldn’t pay any more money for it but now you’re starting to get to the point where a lot of big organisations have sustainability as a consideration when they are looking to book services. Secondly, the technology is much better known nowadays. People see it around and it’s used for other things, so it’s not completely alien to event organisers. And lastly we’ve been doing this for ten years, so when you get people who go: ‘well, it won’t work’ we can show all of the events we’ve done where it has.”
Sustainable engineering is not only good for the environment, it has other advantages for event organisers: “Without generators, you don’t have to deal with noise pollution, as solar powered technology runs much more quietly. Generators can also be dirty and smelly, which isn’t the case with sustainable technology. And they can often be unreliable, even the most expensive generators seem to go wrong constantly. I don’t know what it is about them but they’re a complete nightmare!”
Developments have moved significantly over the years, and will likely do so in the future: “In 2006, I went to the Big Green Gathering, which had battery powered stages, and it was a bit of a joke to be honest,” Andrew confides. “They had two lorries of batteries to power a stage that could have been powered off of a diesel generator I could lift. It was a green nonsense in the grand scheme of things.
I wrote this off at that point, but five years in newer technology started to make a difference. Things like LED lighting and Class B amplification made energy usage more efficient and made it possible to supply events from green energy sources.”
With such great leaps made in the viability of this technology in such a short time, it is likely that we will see further advances and widespread future usage throughout the events industry.