December 2021

Sustainability in television: how dock10 is putting sustainability centre stage

Sustainability in television: how dock10 is putting sustainability centre stage

As the UK's leading television facility, dock10 takes its environmental footprint very seriously and strives towards sustainability across its infrastructure, technology and operations. With its efforts extending from studio lighting to tree planting, we talk to Andrew Culley, COO about dock10's environmental initiatives and how they could inspire positive change within the industry.

Q: What is dock10's tree planting initiative?

At dock10, we are aware that we work in an industry with a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment. This is our tenth anniversary and we wanted to mark this milestone by planting 2,500 trees in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil, a commitment that has created an area of forest the same size as the physical footprint of our building – an enormous 12,500 square meters. The trees have been grown from seed and planted as part of an IPE project creating globally important tree corridors that connect isolated patches of rainforest. dock10's 2,500 trees will help form a wildlife corridor to enable endangered animals, such as the jaguar and black lion tamarin, to move between areas - helping to ensure the survival of their species.

Q: What are the sustainability benefits of dock10's virtual studios and is this the future of sustainable production?

Our Virtual Studios capability brings huge benefits for productions both creatively and practically. It provides programme makers with enormous flexibility, from adding a little on-screen virtual magic to building any set imaginable entirely virtually. The creative possibilities of Virtual Studios are literally endless, and they also support more sustainable productions by reducing the need to build large sets with all the extra transportation and storage they require. For example, on a quiz show you might reduce the physical build to a desk for the contestants and have a fantastic virtual background. When it’s time to refresh the show’s look, this can easily be done by updating the virtual elements without the physical build costs. In some cases, Virtual Studios even made it possible to reduce the size of studio needed and therefore the production's power requirements. Productions that have combined smaller actual sets with larger virtual backgrounds have seen great success from this new way of working and with the technology improving all the time we firmly believe this is the future of sustainable production.

Q: How else is dock10 supporting the environment and sustainability?

dock10 is certified to ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 50001 Energy Management that are awarded to organisations proved to be minimising their environmental impact and conserving resources through efficient energy management. Our building has also been verified as net zero carbon. We are proud of these certifications as they underpin our ongoing commitment to sustainability.

We have established a working group of representatives from all over the business who are charged with challenging everything we do to find ways of improving sustainability. For example, all the waste bins have been replaced with recycling points, water bottle dispensers have been removed and filtered mains water installed, and reusable cups have been provided for our galleries instead of single-use plastic. Similarly, our technology and infrastructure are always being reviewed to reduce their environmental impact: replacing old kit with more power efficient alternatives is good for the environment and makes good business sense as electricity is a big cost.

Lighting is a crucial element of any television production and a big draw on power, throughout our facility we are steadily changing all the lighting in our buildings to be high-efficiency LED lighting that is better for the environment. And of course, this is supported by signage and systems that help ensure lights and equipment are switched off when not being used. Inevitably, some of our equipment relies on battery power and we always use rechargeable batteries where practical; where single-use batteries are unavoidable we make sure they are collected and sent for appropriate recycling.

Our media infrastructure comfortably supports remote working as well as the move to remote production that is transforming the way live sports events are broadcast by minimising the crew and kit needed on location. To support this, we invested £1 million in a dedicated multipurpose remote gallery that works seamlessly with outside broadcasts and connects to the dock10 network. The last 18 months has proved how well remote production works, with dock10 becoming a hub for coverage of pandemic-hit events such as the FA Cup, the Euros and the Olympics. But remote production also brings real environmental benefits, significantly reducing travel and transport, helping broadcasters and producers to reduce their carbon footprint and create content in a more sustainable and cost-effective way.