Eco-Clubbing: “Greening” the San Francisco Party Scene (Guest Post)

clubbing.jpegBy Brian Lillquist
It’s Saturday night in San Francisco and the line outside Temple nightclub extends well beyond the velvet rope and ominous looking bouncers. Inside, DJ’s in three rooms pound out house beats as the whole 1000 person venue pulsates. While this all looks normal to the average clubber, this venue is the catalyst to “greening” the nightclub industry.
Paul Hemming shows me his notebook from 2004. Sustainable clubbing, eco friendly restaurant, vertical gardens, building spiritual consciousness through music, the list goes on. Four years later, the list is surprisingly accurate, a lot of his vision as the owner has come to fruition.
“We started with consumables, the no brainers,” explains Mike Zuckerman, Director of Sustainability for the club. “Compostable cups, straws, all corn starch based. We recycle our bottles and we compost our food. The easiest things to implement are the ones with immediate financial returns. We get rebates and receive credits on our waste bills by keeping up good recycling and composting practices”. “We try to take the decision making out of the partiers hands when they get to the venue so all they need to think about is having a good time” explains Mike.

Because it’s a large place where people gather, a nightclub is a logical place to make an impact on consumable products. But Temple goes a lot further than that: Cleaning products are non-toxic, food is organic whenever possible, and the lights are efficient bulbs, all of which contribute to the nightclubs footprint on the environment. “There’s a lot of openness from people trying to do the same things as us in other cities,” Paul adds. “There are clubs putting similar practices into effect in New York, Rotterdam and Chicago. You can even see the impact inside in the office here. Everybody that works here has a real positive sense of possibility–it goes beyond our love of nightlife and music.”
What is most impressive about Temple is their unique approach to sustainability. While a new solar panel system and other well-known eco-friendly practices are on the agenda, there are also some creative ideas that can serve as inspiration for other venues as well. For example, the carpeting and mats are cut in one foot-squared, interconnecting pieces, so stains and wear don’t require full replacement. “We’re trying a lot of experimental ideas. Some work and some don’t.” explained Mike. “A few months ago, we started thinking about all the car flyering that went on in the neighborhood while people were in our club and the trash it caused in the neighborhood. I picked up all of the club flyers on our block, then recycled them as drink tickets and Green passes to get into the club. It’s not something we’ve run with completely, but I owe Paul a lot for letting me run with new ideas. Hopefully we’ll be able to come up with a few new concepts that can be adopted by other clubs around the country, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Temple Nightclub is located at 540 Howard St. in San Francisco . For more info about the nightclub’s green practices, restaurant and party scene, check out their site at
Brian Lillquist writes for, a nightlife, culture, and events guide to cities around the world.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

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