The BBC announced yesterday (9 February) that as of 3 April, all programmes commissioned by the broadcaster would have to use the Albert carbon calculator to track emissions and uncover best practices to reduce environmental impacts.

Most BBC shows are already using the calculator to track emissions. More than 2,000 users across 300 companies are currently signed up to Albert, and 63 shows have been certified for implementing sustainable production techniques, achieving a carbon reduction against industry benchmarks and involving key stakeholders.

BBC’s director of content Charlotte Moore said: “The BBC is an industry leader in sustainable television production, and the Albert scheme has played a large part in that. Making the calculator mandatory is a practical way to help production teams reduce their impact on the environment and to embed sustainable production values in all our shows”.

Albert was developed after an initial, in-house carbon footprint scheme was trialled for Blue Peter in 2008. It has since been managed and supported by the BAFTA Albert Consortium. In May 2014, the Albert logo appeared on television for the first time during an end credit sequence.

Certified shows are given a rating between one to three stars and to date, the likes of BBC Breakfast, Blue Peter and EastEnders have all reached three-star certification.

The Casualty production team, ranked three stars as of 2015, saved more than 750,000 sheets of paper in the first year of the scheme, equivalent to 90 trees. The Springwatch production has turned to waste vegetable oil and solar-powered generators to power the facilities at RSPB Minsmere. BBC Breakfast also encourages the use of public transport and low-emissions hires and taxis in order to reduce emissions.

The decision to make tracking compulsory has been backed by PACT, the trade association for independent media firms and television companies.

PACT’s deputy chief executive Max Rumney said: “Pact members understand the importance of transitioning their productions to environmental sustainability and welcome the BBC’s commitment to this goal by making the use of the Albert production calculator mandatory.”

Reality TV

The BBC’s project manager for environmental sustainability Hattie Park and Adrian Ruth, director of the in-house lean transformation team BBC Spark, were both speakers at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum last month.

The two spoke of how the BBC is pushing the climate and sustainability agendas both behind-the-scenes and on the actual shows.

The Hugh’s War on Waste series, which has seen celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall call out retailers over issues including food waste and coffee cup recyclability, has made the public more aware of sustainability issues, the two suggested.

EastEnders has started to incorporate energy saving initiatives such as smart meters into its storylines, while Blue Peter now makes its famous badges from old yoghurt pots.

Park revealed that the average hour of BBC production equates to about 12 tonnes of CO2 emissions and that the Albert scheme was helping to reduce this further.

“We need to be sharing the information and keeping the momentum going to encourage and motivate,” Park said. “From Albert, there is a catalyst to include renewable energy schemes, training and more.

“I’m seeing more coverage of climate change [on television]. There needs to be more, but it is coming through. We are in a position where people have heard about climate change but they don’t know about the scale of the challenge and the urgency. That is a message we need to get across more.”

Matt Mace

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