Posted on 13th August 2020

How Springwatch continues to achieve albert certification

Springwatch have been measuring their carbon footprint on the albert calculator since 2013 and have been rewarded for their initiatives to reduce that footprint with the albert certification since 2015.

This continued commitment, coupled with the fact that the programme’s environmental editorial content is so intrinsically linked to sustainability means they are ahead of many in ensuring their carbon footprint is as low as possible.

The production team had been looking into ways to make 2020 their most sustainable year yet. One of the biggest issues that they had was the generators needed to power rural locations with 100-120 people on site. In order to move away from fossil fuel generated power, the production had been investigating hydrogen generators for their sites, whose only by-product is water and heat.

However, with lockdown hitting just as filming was starting, the team had to completely rethink the way they were going to produce the series. With social distancing measures in place, rather than taking big crews to one location, they found the solution was to have smaller crew hubs go out in numbers of 3-6 to around 10 locations, therefore negating the need for huge amounts of power and generators altogether.

This new way of working made the production realise that they could manage with fewer people on location and having some team members working from home did not disrupt proceedings. Naturally not having the ‘normal’ number of people on location meant the team on the ground had to adapt to different challenges but never to the detriment of output quality. Lockdown has also highlighted the huge pool of talent spread across the country. Springwatch has always tried to use local crew but with the ability to travel limited, this has brought the need for local crew into the fore, and it has been a lovely bonus to work with people close to their home patches.

With less people-power, a couple of the more ambitious shoots fell by the wayside. In spite of this, Production Manager Helen Wallbank is sure that the end result was as successful as the initial plans and sprung some new features that will be taken into Autumnwatch and beyond. One such feature was Mindful Moments; a 90 second film of uninterrupted nature captured locally near camera operators’ homes, meaning very minimal additions to the production footprint – the audience feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Springwatch team has found the move to homeworking largely positive. The revelation of Zoom meetings has removed a huge chunk of travel, particularly for the large bank of freelancers from all over the country that would gather in Bristol for meetings. Although the solutions have always been there it has just taken this push for people to believe in it.

One problem that having smaller crews does not solve is the need for large numbers of hire cars. Due to Covid, most crew members travelled in their own vehicles to location, albeit in much smaller numbers. Prior to the pandemic, the production team had been working with Enterprise and were trying to introduce a completely electric fleet of hire cars which, in normal circumstances, would mean around 60 cars on location at any one time. The aim for 2021 is to carry on these conversations and continue to increase their electric car use.

The predicted and final amounts of CO2 emissions for Springwatch which were generated using albert's Carbon Calculator

The predicted and final amounts of CO2 emissions for Springwatch which were generated using albert's Carbon Calculator

Pre Covid, Springwatch had already made great progress to reduce their footprint and were taking all the necessary steps to reduce it even further, however the new working practices have allowed them to find successes in areas they may never have considered before. This has shaved an enormous 107 tonnes off their footprint and many of these new practices will be here to stay.