Since the beginning 4AD works with a vision on sustainability where culture, ecology and economy go hand in hand. Already in 2001 4AD received the eco-challenge price (Stichting Leefmilieu, now called Argus). We were called the most environmentally aware music club in Flanders. In this competition, the awareness for the environment was evaluated on the domains of garbage, noise, energy, water, purchase policy and mobility. And since 1999, as first club in Flanders, 4AD uses re-usable cups on concert evenings. You can see the care for sustainability in the daily action of 4AD in following results/actions: use of recycled paper, ecologic cleaning products, energy-efficient lamps, garbage sorting and the re-use of different second hand materials, furniture and machines. The toilets are flushed with rainwater (2 wells of each 20.000 liters) to save drink water.
There was also a constant environmental awareness within our building project: acoustic isolation (vs noise pollution), full use of the existing building, centralization of technical and sanitary pipes, an economical boiler/heating machine, an energy economic lighting and maximum recuperation of the existing materials (e.g. the stones that are now paved around the building were manually recovered from old hangar). In the year 2007 the private limited company BeauVent placed 34 solar panels on the 4AD roof. This installation has a capacity of 5,78 kWp (kilo Watt climax = nominal capacity) and provides about 5.000 kWh of green energy per year. This energy gets fully used by 4AD. This way we can heavy reduce our electricity costs.
We have to follow the meter registration of water and energy in order to gain knowledge about our energy consumption and seek for possible handicaps. 4AD keeps an energy account with the help of the professional energy management packet Erbis. This allows us to follow the main meter registrations but also the energy use in the different parts of the building, like the bar, the venue and the rehearsal rooms. For each place we receive graphics and tables, this way we keep focusing all 4AD users (employees, volunteers, teachers, rehearsing bands, etc) to save energy. Apart from that, we let the rehearsal rooms for the lowest price possible, based on the real energy consumption price for one rehearsal slot. In this way the users (mainly young people) are directly influenced to handle energy sources economically.
Integration in the neighborhood
Pleasing artists, visitors of concerts, rehearsing bands and course members is one thing, doing this in harmony with the neighborhood is another story. Preventing noise pollution was a priority in our new infrastructure. For each place (the venue, the bar as well as the rehearsal rooms) we have a restriction of 115 dBa. A heavy acoustic isolation was the guarantee to provide noise pollution. Only this way we could integrate easily in the neighborhood. We had to respond the Vlarem II legislation that indicated a 21 dBa neighborhood noise. Only if staying below that, we could obtain an environmental license. That's extremely low for Flanders, since a normal part of a Flemish city has a 35 dBa noise pollution level. We succeeded. An acoustic rabbet physically parts the venue of the rest of the building. The venue has a floating floor so it doesn't make direct contact with the ground. Thanks to the ‘box in a box system’ (another concrete building above the existing hangar) we are excellently sound-proof. You can hear the result heading a meter near the outside wall of the venue: only a soft buzz is audible. Our rehearsal rooms are also perfectly sound-proof. A bicycle grid and a large car parking create an extra relieve for the neighborhood.
As an aware and modern music club we want to participate in the social debate. Every year we give our logistic support to the 11.11.11 action (care for 3rd world countries) and the local 'Ten Vrede' festival. You can buy Fair Traide products in our bar. We use well known ecologic cleaning products. Sustainability is a genuine part of our philosophy. In the summer of 2008 4AD was the initiator of the Global WARning exposition which wanted to make people more aware of the present environmental problems. In the construction of our rehearsal and workshop rooms we co-operated with the local Diksmuidse refugee center. They helped us out with the filling and placing of the sandbags that cover these half underground rooms. For many of those people this was an escape from daily life, boring themselves and waiting for news about an accepted approval or expulsion. For a while, this little enthusiastic team (12 persons) was a real part of our club.
4AD was one of the initiators of the ‘Culture bus’ project, financed by the Koning Boudewijnstichting. This bus brought people from the Westhoek who have no car to (and back from) cultural events. The busses were driven by long term unemployed people. This project got a very good evaluation by 4AD, it was an exciting acquaintance with underprivileged people and the 4th world.
4AD participated together with the OCMW, the city of Diksmuide and other cultural organizations to the project of 'Cultuurpas'. This is an initiative who plead a cause for unprivileged people with the objective to upgrade their cultural participation. Since 2 years we co-operate with the House of Justice. Convicted people perform alternative penal labours at 4AD. Usually they do all kinds of tasks around and inside our infrastructure. As for now we worked together with 5 convicts, resulting in a nice experiences for both parties.