Greening the E-Media Industry
Electronic media infrastructures and gear are important components of global ICT as movies, television, music, and books all go digital. This post offers a global sampling of sustainability in e-media; see much more by clicking on the "Green media" tag, above.
We advocate reuse of ICT products whenever possible. Reuse often requires refurbishing, a task performed by enterprises ranging from large charities like Computer Aid International to specialty business. The demise of the CRT in broadcasting has lead to the closure on one such business, Hawk-Eye Picture Tube Manufacturing of Des Moines (USA), the USA's last independent CRT rebuilder. TV Technology reports that "Hawk-eye has been known to the broadcast crowd for several decades, providing a budget-friendly alternative to factory replacement tubes for [broadcast monitors]…At one time, the United States boasted hundreds of CRT rebuilding operations. They existed both in the big cities and in small towns, filling an important niche…Typically, a CRT could be rebuilt and sold for one-half to two-thirds of the cost of an all-new tube." CRTs contain many toxins such as lead and other heavy metals and it appears most of CRTs obsoleted by the conversion to digital broadcast were not properly recycled. More: DTV & Green ICT, CRTs & Green ICT
UTC Power, a United Technologies Corp, has announced two media facility installations of its PureCell combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cell system. The NewsCorp installation (NY-USA) will generate "a significant portion of its electricity for TV studios [and will] prevent the release of more than 675 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually…" The CBS Studios installations (CA-USA) at "Studio Center and Television City will produce a total of 2.4 MW of power, satisfying 40 percent and 60 percent of the studios’ electricity requirements, respectively. Thermal energy from the systems will be utilized to provide cooling for both studios [and will] prevent the release of more than 2,370 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually…" It appears all these installations will achieve these CO2e reductions with the use renewable biogas. UTC Power announced last year that a Cox Communications installation (CA-USA) would power "…a master telecommunications center and data center…by a blend of biogas and natural gas."
British satellite video provider BSkyB's "…55-metre Northwind 100 turbine is expected to provide over 133 MWh/year of clean energy to Sky Studios…Calculations estimate that the amount of CO2 offset by the turbine will be equivalent to driving 370,000 miles in a typical petrol-powered car each year. The new wind turbine will operate in conjunction with Sky’s recently-commissioned Combined Cooling, Heating and Power (CCHP) plant – the first large-scale facility of its type in the UK – to meet Sky’s target for all company-owned sites to derive at least 20 per cent of their energy needs from on-site renewable sources by 2020…Sky Studios…is the most sustainable facility of its type in Europe. It houses eight naturally ventilated studios, including five HD studios, 45 edit suites, 14 voice-over suites and four audio suites. The building’s other sustainable features include a rainwater harvesting facility; mixed-mode natural ventilation for studios and office areas; and energy-efficient lighting controlled by solar and presence-detection sensors." (See Harlequin 1, below.)
Post magazine's Green Initiatives article features four businesses that are applying sustainability techniques to production and postproduction facilities. These include a new studio aiming for LEED certification, low-energy dissipation of heat from studio operations, and recycling of physical media. Editor Randi Altman sourced Vertatique for this article.
NBC/Universal reports that The Tonight Show with Jay Leno "Reduced the show’s paper usage by 16 reams a week (or 1 tree a week, adding up to 50 trees every year) by utilizing digital distributions for paper-related materials." The production also "Transitioned to rechargeable batteries, which is currently saving 120 batteries a week or 5,400 a year."
Post magazine reported in 2011 that "Hollywood Center Studios has built two large solar power systems that will generate electricity for its 11 stages…expected to generate more than 350,000 kilowatt hours per year…The studio has an ongoing program to replace the thousands of incandescent light bulbs on the lot with low-power LED units. It also operates a recycling program that salvages material that would be otherwise thrown away." Post quotes a studio executive on the business benefits: "Solar energy also appeals to the environmental concerns [of] many of the production companies that use our stages." (More Green Media from Post magazine.)
Reports UK's Guardian, "Harlequin 1…is hailed by owner British Sky Broadcasting as Europe's most sustainable broadcast facility…The company…has worked with architects Arup to ensure that all methods of reducing energy use and generating renewable energy were explored…Harlequin 1 has a calculated CO2 emissions rate of 26.3 Kg CO2/m2 per annum – the lowest achieved for a broadcasting centre in Europe, says BSkyB." Its many sustainability features earned the facility a Sustainability Project of the Year recognition from the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards 2011.
Pixar/Disney's John Lasseter has called Hayao Miyazaki "the worlds greatest animator". Much of Miyazaki's work, especially the now-classic Princess Mononoke, has powerful environmental themes. Miyazaki, a renewable energy supporter, has been inspired by Japan's earthquake/tsunami to call for filming without the use of nuclear power. Hear this and other engaging topics in the three Miyazaki interview videos at CNN International.
Canada emerged as a center for global film and video production in the 1990s. Green Screen Toronto is an initiative designed to advance sustainability within that media hub. GST's Resource Guide, while focused on Ontario, gives content creators everywhere an idea of the kinds of options that they can seek out within their own locales or when doing work in the Toronto area.
HP on Avatar's New Zealand render farm: "The HP team worked extensively with Weta Digital to run the system at optimum power efficiency, resulting in dramatic power and cooling savings. Through water-cooled radiators, closed rack space, and passive rooftop heat exchangers, the data center stayed cool while running full time and often at full capacity, with no air conditioning. The cooling cost was equivalent to that of turning on a few electric water pumps."
A Berlin group literally "rode" a music video production's CO2e down over 50% and its electricity consumption down 99%. See "pedal power" in action and the resulting video. Not necessary a technique for everyone, but a playful reminder that creativity knows no bounds in reducing media production impacts.