July 28th marks the start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. As Host Broadcaster, Sunset+Vine will be producing 2000 hours of coverage over 11 days from venues across the West Midlands with 1500 strong crew. We spoke to Ruth Hayman, Host Broadcast COO, about S+V’s approach to sustainability for the Games.
Posted on 22nd July 2022
How Sunset + Vine is making a sustainable Commonwealth Games
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin on July 28th, and they're set to be the most sustainable yet. Read on to see how Host Broadcaster, Sunset + Vine are helping to make it happen
— Ruth Hayman, Host Broadcast COO“
From the outset, we drew inspiration from the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee’s Social Values Charter, which detailed the core values that would underpin this edition of the Games and shape future editions. We were left in no doubt that we needed to challenge ourselves to create a strategy that would deliver a positive environmental and socio-economic legacy for the region. Our legacy commitments had to be ambitious and attainable. The ability to evidence our achievements was key.”
For an event of this size, the logistical requirements were always going to be our primary focus. We knew that transport, travel, catering and accommodation all needed an approach that could deliver measurable benefits.
We started with a ‘No-Fly’ policy for the pre-production phase, firm in our belief that we could enable our Australian Aquatics Director to plan his camera coverage remotely, without the need to do any surveys in person. A small thing, but one that proves that with the right tools, anything is possible. At games time, it became ‘only necessary flights’ for just a handful of people. This represents a 90% reduction in air travel versus previous editions of the Games. We’ve achieved that by challenging the norm.
Major events like the Olympics and sporting World Cups are reliant on a travelling core of professionals who work almost exclusively on these events. They’re experts in their field and incredibly good at what they do, but the cost to the environment is huge. With so much talent on our doorstep, we took the decision to recruit the majority of production personnel and technicians from the UK market. Further to this, 15% of the Host Broadcast team will come from the West Midlands.
Encouraging public transport
Crew have been encouraged to make their journeys to the West Midlands by train, and S+V have created schedules that allow them to do that.
As soon as cheap tickets went on sale, S+V messaged crew to let them know so that there could be no doubt about how crew were expected to travel.
Accommodation close by
S+V secured as much accommodation for crew as close to venues as possible to encourage walking & biking, and reduce the need for driving.
No flights in pre-production
Zero flights were scheduled during pre production.
Specialist directors from Australia and New Zealand planned their coverage via Teams and worked out their camera plans based on photographs and maps of venues, which negated the need for them to fly over.
Only necessary flights at Games Time
Previous Commonwealth Games have necessitated at least 30 flights pre games and over 300 flights during game time.
This year, only 20 flights are scheduled for commentators, two directors and one Broadcast Venue Manager.
Our ‘Feet First’ initiative was all about reducing ground transport. The majority of our teams will be accommodated close enough to their venues to walk to work. It may sound like a simple fix but securing rooms close to venues for such vast numbers of people during a major event requires dogged determination.
Our ‘Bring your Bike to Birmingham’ message is another initiative to encourage sustainable travel and to support a local charity. We’ve pledged to donate 100 bicycles to ‘The Bike Project’ which takes in second-hand bikes and refurbishes them for distribution to refugees, helping them to access essential services and reduce isolation.
Crew uniforms are coming courtesy of a small local business that champions the slow fashion movement, putting people and the planet first. Using only ethically sourced fabric and non-toxic printing methods our crew will be kitted out in quality clothing that won’t end up in the bin. At the end of the event, we’re collecting at least one item of clothing from each crew member to donate to three charities, the Acorn Children’s Hospice, St Mary’s Hospice and Kits4Causes (We’ve created our own circular economy!)
No beef menus are being used, with veggie options always taking top billing.
Local food outlets are being supported, with the majority of caterers being small street food vendors from the region and local restaurants are being booked when it’s feasible for crew to leave site to eat their meals.
The Organising Committee’s offices are furnished with second hand furniture, via a company called Harrow Green.
For the International Broadcast Centre, S+V have not only sourced second hand furniture (which previously belonged to Sandwell Council) but arranged for Harrow Green to pick it up and store it until the International Broadcast Centre is up and running.
Crew clothing is being made by a husband & wife team in Birmingham who are committed to making quality clothing from ethically sourced organic cotton.
The printing process also uses ink that doesn’t harm the environment.
Quality is key so that none of it ends up in the bin and crew have the option of handing their clothing back post event for re-distribution, via a charity called Kits for Causes.
The Organising Committee appointed Aggreko to manage power at venues, and worked closely with them to ensure that emissions are kept to a minimum.
They have ‘right-sized’ the power plan and grid power will be used as mains power wherever feasible.
Our caterers are mostly small local enterprises. One, “Tastes Good, Does Good” donates 5% of every corporate booking to charity as well as regularly hosting a pop-up to support local community initiatives. Minimising food waste is also a priority and we’ve worked with all of our caterers to ensure we meet this objective. Our menus will be free from beef and the vegetarian option of the day will have top billing. Drinking water will come from a tap and Broadcast Compounds will be free from single use plastic.
We’ve been supported by the UK’s OB (Outside Broadcast) suppliers who have all made contractual commitments to offset their emissions from Games Time operations, whether that be the movement of OB trucks, motorbikes, helicopters or people.
— Ruth Hayman, Host Broadcast COO“
Our greatest legacy for the region will be our Host Broadcast Training Initiative. Over the last two years we’ve engaged with people from communities, colleges and universities across the West Midlands in an attempt to identify and train up the next generation of television professionals. Our mission has been to target those most underrepresented in our industry and give them an opportunity to take their first step on the career ladder. We’ve selected 150 local people to work with us on the Host Broadcast at Games Time and we’ll continue to mentor them long after the Games has finished.”
All of our commitments are captured and analysed by the Social Value Portal, an online resource for public and private sector organisations to measure, monitor and benchmark the social value they generate. Our eyes are wide open to the opportunities that exist to deliver social value and we’re privileged to have been part of this journey and to have learned so much about what is possible. Let the Games begin!