Sustainability and Environmental Filming
Did you know that in London alone, the TV and Film Industry produces almost 120,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to 25,000 cars been driven on the road for a full year.
It’s estimated that one-hour of scripted drama has an average carbon footprint of 77 metric tonnes of CO2 per episode. For reference, its estimated that a typical person in the UK has a carbon footprint of just over 9 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. It’s clear that something needs to be done and fast.
The Film Office has always been committed to reducing the environmental impact of productions on location within our client boroughs – cutting emissions, reducing noise pollution and improving the quality of air for local residents are common commitments we share with our client boroughs.
The Grid Project
When filming on location, productions establish an off-street unit base that requires generators to supply electricity. These generators often use either diesel or petrol, producing harmful pollutants which contribute to poor air quality, and increased noise levels.
The Grid Project is a scheme that seeks to change this situation at source, setting out to supply green energy via the mains network to key unit bases in the capital. Installing electrical cabinets that productions can plug into rather than using generators can reduce the environmental impact of filming by drastically reducing harmful emissions, noise pollution and fuel costs.
The Film Office has been at the forefront of this scheme and we are proud that the first one in the country was installed and has been up and running since early 2023 in Victoria Park Lido Car Park in Tower Hamlets. It is already producing fantastic results with emissions savings in the first 40 days of operation of over 2500 litres of equivalent diesel and a 100% reduction in CO2 and NO2 particulates.
For more information please follow the link here for the press release.
We have highlighted some fantastic resources across the industry that are being done now to help productions film green!
- Alternative Energy Sources
- Reduce Emissions
- Useful Tools
- Food and Rubbish Waste Solutions
- Plastic / Reusing Sets
- Water Wastage
- Virtual Production (VP)
The Fuel Project Report
With around 50% of emissions from film productions generated by burning fuels, it is imperative the industry changes the way it transports goods, as well as how it powers sets and bases. When filming on location productions require a variety of different power sources whether to run lights, power catering vehicles or other equipment.
For more information and guidance on the use of fuel in the industry, Film London has launched ‘ The Fuel Project Supplier Guidance Report’, which is delivered by Film London and funded by Interreg Europe’s Green Screen, in partnership with sustainable business consultants Creative Zero. The report gives support, guides and practical information to film and TV production suppliers to make the move toward low-carbon technologies that ultimately help lower emissions in the industry.
Stage V is an emissions standard across a variety of industries for Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM). Its primary aim is to reduce the emissions of particulate matter produced by engines, reducing air pollution – important both for the environment and peoples health. There are a variety of suppliers who offer these generators and more and more productions are realising the importance of using them on site to protect their crew and the environment.
Both On Location and Location One can supply Stage V generators to production. These generators are more commonly used in the construction industry in London due to struct enforcement standards, however the supply for them is due to be ramped up in the next 2 years, meaning more and more productions should be able to utilise them for filming.
Nixon Hire is a leading provider of a variety of plant, site accommodation, welfare facilities, portable toilets and solar solutions to hire. They also have a wide range of Stage V generators from 20kVA up till 500kVA.
Hybrid Generators offer a fantastic greener solution that allows productions to still draw a wealth of power, whilst also minimising the impact on the environment.
Renowned lighting rental company Panalux has recently introduced its The Panalux Power h40 hybrid generator which combines a diesel engine with an advanced lithium-ion battery array. It is capable of delivering 240V AC power up to a load of 40kW; the generator never idles, and the diesel engine only engages to charge the batteries. Without turning on its diesel engine, the h40 can power a 3,000W load for 8 hours on batteries alone!
Sunbelt Rentals is the UK’s largest rental equipment provider and they have the expertise for a variety of power solutions. They will be able to advise on how to combine Battery (and Solar technologies with Generators (inc Stage V Generators) to create a ‘hybrid power system’ that works for what your power needs are on any location.
Green Voltage has introduced their range of Volt Stack generators that uses clean renewable power. The Volt Stack is silent meaning generators can be close to the set, helping audiences hear the actors original performance in the cinema, all this while reducing harmful emissions. They come in 3 different sizes 2.5 kW, 5 kW & 20.7 kW. With the ability to also run in conjunction with solar panels, it is a great option for productions looking to do their part in combating climate change.
Green energy provider PlusZero offers Hydrogen powered solutions across the UK and it has most recently expanded into the Film and TV sector. Hydrogen is a gas with higher energy density than current battery technologies. Hydrogen can be used in a combustion engine or to power an electric motor via a fuel cell. As a relative new energy source its likely Hydrogen will only become a major part of the energy system in the 2030s, however PlusZero are already making great strides in the industry.
Operating across the globe renowned battery provider Zenobe is offering an ingenious solution to give old batteries a new lease of life in the film industry. The PowerSkid is a former bus battery that once its reached its end of life is then repurposed into a 150kW battery that can be used for both On Grid power to boost it when needed for site peaks; in conjunction with a hybrid system with a diesel generator, or it can be also connected up to a renewable energy source like wind or solar to give a completely green power solution.
Albert is an environmental organisation that aims to encourage Film and TV production in the industry to reduce waste, emissions and ultimately their carbon footprint. Started in 2011 all current major broadcasters and production companies in the UK are required to register with the organisation so their carbon footprint can be monitored, and improvements made where possible. The organisation offers a fantastic free Production Toolkit which has lots of great information about how productions can reduce their impact on the environmental, as well as this they offer free training courses here!
Green Screen is a sustainability programme that helps reduce productions carbon emissions whilst also saving costs at the same time. They advise end to end throughout the filming process about how to film more green and provide on set green stewards to monitor productions. Through Film London’s Equal Access Network they also provide free training to learn how to be a Green Steward.
If you’re looking for a tailored service Neptune offers specialist support for the film and television industry to help various productions understand their environmental impact and subsequently try to reduce it at every stage in production.
Food and rubbish waste can generate up to 347 tons of waste per production, so finding a way to either reduce or recycle that waste is key for a production to meets its green credentials.
London based company Bio Collectors offer a food waste collection service that actually generators electricity! They offer an end to end service where they collect any leftover food on set, take it to their processing centre in South London and break it down to produce electricity that is fed back into the National Grid. Any leftover material is then used to create fertiliser for farmers.
Eco Shoots offer an eco dining service that provides a full range of compostable cups, trays and boxes and their end to end waste and recycling service helps cut down on waste going to landfill while also processing all food waste to create things like biogas and fertiliser! Eco Shoots also provide a brilliant plastic free alternative. They’ve also teamed up with FRANK Water to provide on set water solutions which reduce waste, reduce plastic usage with their 100% recycled glass bottles and help provide safe clean drinking water for those in need in India and Nepal.
Location One has also introduced The EcoPod to the market. It enables users to separate out 4 waste streams: food, combustibles, dry mixed recycling and general waste. All food waste goes to a digestion plant where it is broken down to create things like biogas and bio-fertiliser. Compostable material go to a composting facility where they are turned into soil fertiliser. The dry mixed recycling goes to a clean Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where it is separated into raw materials for the remanufacturing of new products and the general waste goes to a dirty MRF, where any uncontaminated recyclables are recovered and non-recyclables are processed into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for use in a Waste-to-Energy incinerator.
From water bottles to props and set materials, productions use a vast quantity of plastic on set and small changes can make a big difference to reduce the environmental impact. Feature Film Noah directed by acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofksy banned the use of plastic water bottles on set throughout the film, saving in excess of 67,000 bottles, and simply switching to the use of reusables or water stations can generate cost savings of up to 50%. So its good for the planet and the budget!
The ingenious people at Ram Board have come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to Corex boards which are reusable, fully recyclable and made from 100% recycled materials!
Props and sets are often discarded after a production wraps causing a huge amount of waste which more often than not goes to landfill. Secure storage provider Cama offers a wealth of options when a production wraps to try and either sell the props to other shows or films, or recycle the items in a safe and environmentally-friendly way.
Honeywagons often use vast amounts of water as well as energy on set and there are various environmentally friendly solutions to help you film more green!
Eclipse Toilet Hire offers a brilliant range of eco-friendly honeywagons that are both powered by solar energy but also to save on water usage all of the basin water is recycled into the toilet flushing system!Loowatt is a revolutionary new toilet. Still in its infancy, it is currently being used around the world providing safe and clean toilets systems to places unreachable by mains water or sewage, however the company is now also expanding into the event, film and TV market. The waterless flush system offers a great alternative to the usual system and all waste is then recycled at the processing centre to be turned into fertiliser or biogas!
Tentpole films such Black Adam and The Batman typically produce on average almost 3,000 tonnes of CO2, whereas a large LED Volume would need to run for over 50 years to produce that much. VP helps reduce 3 main factors that contribute emissions on set: diesel generators on location, travel to and from location and also raw materials.
Whereas sustainable behaviours are often perceived to restrict creativity for productions, VP offers an incredible creative tool that allow productions to create and edit worlds in real time without the need to travel or create large sets.
When used in conjunction with on location shooting it can be a key tool in helping drive emissions down for productions. Virtual Production also gives producers and studio heads the opportunity to dial in to the studio and keep track of the filming without the need to travel, its estimated that 15% of all emissions on a production is purely down to air travel alone.
Back in 2021 MARS Volume, a leading Virtual Production studio based in Ruislip was approached by Gangs of London Season 2 to film driving scenes on their volume. Usually when productions want to film driving scenes they use various bits of equipment to make sure they safely film these scenes, whether that be a Low Loader, U-Crane or rigging cameras to the vehicle itself, all done in conjunction with the local police force. Filming on a volume not only gave the production the full freedom to shoot whatever angles and shots they wanted bus also meant the production reduced the emissions from all the driving they would’ve done to achieve these shots. Check out a behind the scenes interview about how they achieved this here.
ALBERT has a fantastic supplier list with detailed information and links across every department in the industry, helping you to FILM GREEN! Follow the link here.
What is The Film Office doing?
- Co-delivered The Grid Project at Victoria Park Lido Unit Base
The first unit base in the capital to offer on site green power
- 100% renewable energy in the office
Our energy supplier in our Hoxton office provided by Octopus Energy is powered by 100% renewable energy
- Carbon neutral company
We have done a detailed analysis of our company and have made emissions savings from a variety of sources including cutting down on plastic bottle waste with reusable metal water bottles for all staff, all other left over emissions are offset through sustainable sources
- All staff have undertaken ALBERT sustainability training
Through ALBERT’s dedicated sustainable production course
- Introducing local power solutions at a variety of locations From introducing 3 phase in a variety of our locations to monitoring on set power usage we encourage all productions filming to utilise local power sources where possible reducing generators brought to locations or on street
- “No idling” policy and switch off engine campaign on street for all productions as part of our T&C’s
All productions filming in our boroughs sign up to the Film London Code of Practice T&C’s which has a dedicated “Switch Off” campaign