Scott Bowne

LEED standards don’t stand in the way of artistic expression

This Post was originally posted to Mike Lawler’s ecoTheaer blog on July 19, 2007. We are reposting it here to share this ecoTheater classic with new readers while MIke continues to regain his health. You can read his blog about his ongoing battle with cancer, The “C” Word, by clicking here.

Today I spoke with Scott Bowne, the production and facilites manager for Theatrical Outfit (TO)–number 5 on mySummer 2007 greenList. They may have been alphabetically #5, but chronologically, they were #1. Remember Tom Key (We wanted to do the right thing), TO’s executive artistic director? Key was the first–and thus far, only–leader of a theater going (or gone) green to tell me without hesitation that he was eager to build green.

Since Bowne has only been in his current position with TO for less than a year, he’s still trying to catch up with the idea of managing a green facility. And, unfortunately, the idea hasn’t quite fully infiltrated their way of producing theater.

But, what was most interesting about our conversation was Bowne discovered that the USGBC wasn’t interested in inhibiting theater artists from doing their jobs, and creating the kind of work they should. Bowne encountered this especially when TO was mounting a production of Doris Baizley’s Shiloh Rules and the dilemma of using fog or haze came up. After putting a call into the equally-new-at-this-LEED-stuff staff of Portland Center Stage, Bowne says he was reassured to learn that the folks at the USGBC, while concerned about the air quality issues of theatrical fog or haze,weren’t in the business of telling artists how to create art. Of course, such issues are not new to the theater business either, and Bowne still had to keep in mind the health of the performers and audience. Since TO’s Balzer Theatre has a state of the art ventilation system that monitors CO2 levels while introducing fresh outside air to control air quality, the hazing issue became one that caused little problems. The Balzer’s ventilation dissapated the haze so quickly that it became somewhat of a non issue. “We decided not to combat that,” Bowne said, and so the haze made brief appearances at the top of each act.

The hope is that Bowne will continue to learn and grow into his position (which he has held for less than a year, after a long career with Alliance Theatre). He has the opportunity to make a difference with a company that has already taken huge steps in their commitment to sustainability.