Behavior Change
New Tools Helping Companies Holistically Reduce Impacts of TV Productions

Anybody that has seen an episode of Ross Kemp’s “Extreme World" might forgive the production crew if environmental footprint reduction wasn’t top of their agenda when making the show. As the former soap star dodges bullets among far-right factions in Eastern Ukraine or confronts sexual predators in one of South Africa’s most deprived and lawless townships during the latest series, cutting carbon and reducing power use probably isn’t centre of mind.

But environmental sustainability is an important issue to Kemp and his production company, Freshwater Films, and thanks to the use of albert+ during the latest series, Sky and Freshwater were able to create the most sustainable series of the show yet (as Kemp explains in the video below).

And it sees albert+ – the new accompanying tool to albert, which is the industry’s carbon assessment tool, developed by a consortium of BAFTA members as the best way to work with production companies to make actual reductions to the environmental impact of their programmes. As well as providing a set of guidelines or tasks that production companies must complete, albert+ also works as a certification, recognising and rewarding production companies that have successfully managed and reduced their environmental impact in accordance with the albert+ guidelines.

Sky is the only broadcaster to fully embed the carbon calculator tool, albert, within its commissioning process, using it to measure the carbon footprint of all of its externally commissioned programmes. Sky takes the data obtained through the use of albert to set genre-specific commitments with its production partners. And when productions are ‘green-lit,’ they are given an environmental checklist relevant to their genre.

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albert+ gives Sky’s production companies a new, easier way to work towards these checklists. Through albert+, companies can provide evidence that they don’t just measure their footprint and are aware of sustainable production, but that they promote sustainability on set, adopt best practice and reduce their carbon footprint against standard industry practice. A production might receive a 1-, 2- or 3-star rating, provided they have also tackled certain mandatory questions - such as whether responsibility for sustainability sits with a senior member of staff, or whether sets and props have been made from sustainably sourced materials.

The first Sky production to proudly display its albert+ certification on-air is the fourth series of “Trollied,” grabbing the highest rating available. The tool was crucial in “getting the whole production team on board and bought into our sustainable goals,” says Tim Sealey, head of production at Roughcut TV, which produces the Sky 1 comedy.

Transport was the big challenge to tackle on “Trollied,” accounting for more than 50 percent of the production’s footprint.

“We tackled it by accommodating the majority of the cast in the same hotel, transporting them to set together as much as we could,” says Sealey. “We also made public transport the default for everyone – a big change for some, but everyone got on board pretty quickly.”

Thanks to Roughcut’s commitment, the overall carbon emissions were 7 percent less than for the previous series, and the total footprint was 50 percent less than for the genre average. A third of on-set ceiling light fluorescents were removed, reducing stage power by 50 percent. Paper use was cut by 80 percent thanks to an opt-in policy for call sheets and scripts. And 80 percent of the catering food was sourced locally (“and when we were done with the perishable foods on set we donated them to feed the local pigs,” adds Sealey).

Sky Living’s new real-life drama, “Desi Rascals,” is the third show to trial albert+ and will continue to be rolled out to more of Sky-commissioned productions by the end of 2015.

Alongside driving common best practice across the industry with albert and albert+, Sky is also embedding sustainable thinking into its own in-house programming (Sky Sports and Sky News programmes are produced in Sky’s broadcasting facility, the most sustainable in Europe), to reduce carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, including the removal of polystyrene from catering, introducing recycling initiatives and exploring solar power as a source of generator power.

This post first appeared on the 2degrees blog on February 10, 2015.

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