INTEGRATING GREEN PRACTICES INTO FILM PRODUCTION
When we started filming Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, we knew we were tackling a story with a powerful environmental legacy. We honored that legacy by identifying and implementing innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint. To lessen the need for air travel and its related environmental impact, we used cutting-edge recording technologies to create virtual work environments for our production teams on two continents. These technologies allowed actors to record their voice-over parts at 10 studios in the United States and Europe — with directorial input often coming from hundreds of miles away. Production crews used several digital communications tools to remotely review work in progress, including Apple® iChat®, Skype™, and cineSync screen-sharing and editing software.
Computer-animated films such as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax put a much larger load on data centers than a typical on-location shoot. We dealt with this challenge by adopting a number of energy-saving technologies, including a new cooling system across targeted data centers. By cooling the machines and not the entire room, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax consumed up to 40% less energy in its data centers compared with traditional methods. Cloud computing technologies in our Paris location made our data centers even more energy efficient.
Finally, by encouraging bike commuting and giving employees the option of working from home, we helped our production teams use less gas and reduce emissions. These policies not only gave more flexibility to our remote workers, but also allowed us to capitalize on the talents of visual development artists, art directors, and modeling editors in four countries and five U.S. states.
Our conservation efforts won several accolades at the 22nd Annual Environmental Media Association (EMA) Awards on September 29, 2012. In addition to winning the award for environmentally themed content in a feature film, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax received an EMA Green Seal for its progress in sustainable production practices. The film was among 12 NBCUniversal productions to earn an EMA Green Seal:
Universal Pictures — Anna Karenina, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Les Misérables
Focus Features — Closed Circuit, Promised Land
Universal Television (NBC) — Grimm, Parenthood, Up All Night
Universal Cable Productions (USA and Syfy) — Suits, Covert Affairs, Alphas, Warehouse 13
CONSERVING RESOURCES IN OUR PRODUCTION FACILITIES
In late 2012, we opened a new state-of-the-art sports studio and operations center in Stamford, Connecticut, that will reduce the environmental impact of our sports programming. Our engineering group designed this 170,000-square-foot facility with nearly 100% light-emitting diode (LED) lighting — which uses up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent lighting systems — plus a more energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and cooling system.
Built using recycled materials throughout, such as reclaimed wood on staircases and countertops, the facility includes an automated 24/7 Hubbell Lighting system that regulates our light usage. Part of the building’s roof is composed of natural grasses and a white thermoplastic polyolefin membrane — known for its heat-reflective qualities — which serve to reduce the temperatures of the roof surface and surrounding air. We also started several initiatives to help our Stamford employees reduce their transportation footprints, including adding six electric vehicle charging stations and a staff shuttle system for reverse commuters and mass transit riders.
SUSTAINABILITY IN OUR OLYMPICS COVERAGE
During our coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games — the most environmentally sustainable Olympics ever — we reduced our footprint in a variety of ways. Staff members traveled in high-occupancy vehicles to limit fuel use and emissions. We provided drinking water in bulk to encourage the use of refillable water bottles. NBC Olympic Catering sourced more than 90% of all food products from local sources to reduce the need for long-haul transport, and ensured that 95% of our paper products for food services were made from recycled paper and/or were 100% compostable.
In addition, we increased our use of recycled materials during production and recycled all trash offsite. We even used recycled blue jeans to make the scenic acoustic panels in our Olympics studio rather than purchasing new acoustic panels.
GIVING NEW LIFE TO USED AND SURPLUS MATERIALS
We reuse, recycle, and repurpose many thousands of assets from our productions around the world. These materials — ranging from clothing and set decorations to household goods, paints, and wood — often go to schools and nonprofit organizations.
Last year, we donated nearly 250 tons of materials used during the productions of Les Misérables, Anna Karenina, Fast & Furious 6, and several other films. We also donated nearly 45,000 leftover meals from on-set catering services for 10 of our TV productions to charitable organizations in Los Angeles and New York City.