Summerhall is a large, busy place, with roughly 1000 people on site every day, 200,000 additional visitors during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and 170,000 at other times of the year.

Summerhall occupies the former ‘Dick Vet’ University of Edinburgh veterinary school, a listed building. Summerhall recognises its responsibility to minimise its environmental impact whilst running a sustainable business and maximising its contribution to its residents, visiting artists and the local community.

This page aims to tell you a bit more about what we have done recently to ensure environmental initiatives are at the heart of our model and what we hope to do in future.

What we’ve done so far…

During the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, over 100 companies present shows at Summerhall, each with their own print – flyers, posters and brochures. While the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has organised measures at the end of the festival for effective print recycling, over-supply and ineffective distribution during the festival is still a problem. To counteract this we limit print runs for companies, allowing them to bring a maximum of 30 posters and zero flyers for distribution at Summerhall.

According to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, research has shown discussion and a single flyer is as effective as 50 unsolicited flyers. We strongly support that culture and will continue to develop the ‘quality not quantity’ philosophy going forward.

Summerhall was awarded a Cycling Friendly Employer Award from Cycle Scotland. A lot of people cycle to Summerhall. In and around our building you can expect to see 50-100 bikes daily. Thanks to funding from Cycle Scotland, we have installed four new sheltered and secure Sheffield stands and bought new pool bikes for Summerhall staff. Access initiatives such as the dropped kerb at the pedestrian entrance to our courtyard also make it easier for Summerhall staff and residents to cycle to work. Summerhall, as a case study, was featured in Sustrans Scotland’s Bike Life report on Edinburgh. Bike Life reports on developments in cycling infrastructure and behaviour in 7 cities around the UK. You can find out more at this link.

Summerhall was awarded funding from the Energy Saving Trust to install two electric car charge points in front of our Tech Cube building. These were available to use for free for a period of time. They are now charged, but still available to the public for use.

Summerhall is a flyer-free venue, meaning that as a rule we do not allow flyers to be distributed or left anywhere on-site. Since enacting this policy in 2021, we have seen a significant reduction in paper waste. We provide notice boards in our reception area where arts groups and community projects can leave posters or a single flyer with information about their work.

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Summerhall switched to paperless e-ticketing – something that we were working towards already, but became a necessity for all venues during Fringe 2021. We have carried this forwards into Fringe 2022, and will continue to use e-tickets as a permanent ticketing solution.

We also encourage customers to bring their E-tickets on a device, rather than printing them out at home.

The Royal Dick and events bars use a combination of reusable and recyclable cups. For food, we use recyclable paper plates and sustainably sourced/recyclable boxes.

Summerhall’s roof is home to over 2 million bees, playing an important part in keeping Edinburgh’s urban spaces green and addressing in a small way declining bee populations. We’re in a great location for the bees, both by the Meadows and only a stone’s throw away from Arthur’s Seat.

Plans for the future

Summerhall has showers, changing facilities and locker rooms onsite, which are no longer in use. We plan to apply for funding to upgrade these facilities and thus encourage more people to cycle commute to Summerhall.