Posted on 1st August 2019

Future proofing your studio in a changing climate

How can studios help eliminate the environmental impact of production? By increasing revenue. Curious? Read on.

A thought piece, by Aaron Matthews.

Climate change is like cat shit. When your neighbour says that their cat will shit in your garden 10% less next year, you say ‘No. Your cat must never shit in my garden’. When anybody says they will reduce their carbon emissions by 10%, you say ‘No. You must eliminate your carbon emissions.’

But it’s tricky when it comes to carbon emissions, because they are the result of 150 years of furious development; translating this progress into a zero-impact version will take time, but how long? What the science tells us is that we must peak our emissions in 2020 and half them every decade until carbon neutrality in 2050. So yes, it’s okay to celebrate 10% reductions, but only in the context of an ambition for absolute zero.

Studios, like the rest of the screen industry, find themselves at the start of this great transition. Fail to change and we all fail to beat climate change. Or a more likely scenario; fail to keep up and get left behind.  As the wheels leading to a cleaner industry pick up pace, it’s time to make sure we are all ready.

Having calculated the carbon emissions of hundreds of productions, the naked truth is that productions can only reduce their emissions by 20%. Reductions beyond this can only be brought about by studios, locations and facility companies. And while it might feel unfair to hand responsibility for 80% of the industry’s impact to these companies rather than the ivory towers in LA, this is the situation we find ourselves in. But fear not, this means that smart studios stand to benefit from 80% of the profits for sorting it all out.

What does a zero impact studio look like?

Materials; Comprehensive material reprocessing streams in place, materials that cannot be processed within these streams do not enter the industry.

Energy: The maximum amount of energy is generated on-site, all energy purchased is from a 100% renewable tariff and the impact of any additional energy created or purchased is carbon offset.

Travel: Vehicles chosen are the lowest impact possible, the impact of any remaining travel is carbon offset.

This is the circular economy; this is a commercial opportunity. This video explains it well.

 

Productions cannot…

 

Studios can

 

 Materials  Set up comprehensive material re-purposing systems covering props, sets, flats, catering and production waste, within the duration of the production

 

 Support productions with the responsible recycling and disposal of all of their waste and assets and charge for the provision of this service

 

Energy Make sure that the energy in the studio comes from renewable energy sources nor can they ensure there is sufficient power on site to eliminate generators.

 

Generate power on-site, ensure there is plenty of power across the complex and purchase 100% renewable energy, and charge for this service

 

 Travel Ensure that there is provision to accommodate zero carbon vehicles

 

Ensure provision of zero carbon vehicle charging and charge for this service

 

 

Studios might also think about offsetting their operational carbon footprint, creating central stores for productions to purchase and return office supplies and ensure as much on-site technology is as low energy as possible.

You’ll note the lack of strategy for eliminating plastic water bottles in the table above, it’s time to think bigger, much bigger. These points are a strategic plan to tackle the greatest ever threat to human kind; climate change. It’s time to re-imagine our industry future and we’ll do so with the skills the industry has honed for decades: collaboration and creativity. This is about sharing problems, measuring them, identifying commercially viable solutions followed by consultation and implementation. If you need a hand, we are here to help.

We’re on a journey to zero together and being a hero is necessary, enjoyable and a commercial opportunity. It’s time to stop the cats, it’s time to safeguard our industry’s future.