2020: Green Film for a Green Metro Vancouver?

Metro Vancouver is abuzz with Green Thinking!

Vancouver 2020 Plan

The City of Vancouver is mounting the Progressive Pedestal with its vision to be the world’s greenest city by 2020.  According to the Vancouver City Council’s very detailed time-frame, by 2020 the average citizen should expect to enjoy cleaner air, water, a lighter carbon footprint, increased access to natural landscaping, green transportation, local produce, and twice the amount of green job opportunities. The Council pledges to deliver and are gradually producing results with updates every year on how the project is progressing. 

From plans made by the North Vancouver Sustainable City Dialogues, held in 2011 and 2013, to the Vancouver street-tree planting initiatives and Live Smart BC Sustainability program for small businesses, the award-winning carbon-slicing maneuvers being made are advancing the Metro area in a bee-line march towards sustainability.

Individual citizens have duly been asked to do their part; in fact, through attendance at monthly council meetings, residents have shared and shaped much of the Action Plan.

Where does Vancouver’s Motion Picture industry lie in this equation?

In order to completely fulfill the Metro plans and the 2020 sustainability mandate set by the City of Vancouver, carbon cuts need to be issued across the economy.  Vancouver’s industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors happen to contribute 20% of the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In a 2006 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) study, the Los Angeles (L.A.) film business was found to be one of the city’s most wasteful, polluting industries. Energy consumption for the L.A. metro output was measured at approximately 100,000 terajoules - that's the equivalent of powering 833,000 houses for one year.

Energy B.C.: Where does our energy come from?

Energy B.C.: Where does our energy come from?

Fortunately, B.C. obtains 86% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams. While this reduces the emissions produced by much on-set activity, the transportation demands within the industry contribute  to local emissions. Vancouver, similar to L.A. in its claim to fame as one of North America’s most popular production destinations, must have its productions consider their transportation activities as major carbon contributors. 

The 2006 UCLA report was a wake-up call to the film industry in L.A. In response the “Big 6” studios have formalized their sustainability programs. Up here in 'Hollywood North' the groundwork has been laid and the opportunity to advance sustainability has never been better.  

Initiatives such as the Reel Green B.C. forum opened up the conversation in 2007 and provided a best practices sustainability guide for local productions. Okanagan and Thompsons Nicola Film Commissions, among others have publicly declared themselves part of the “Reel Green Movement.” Earlier that year VFS (Vancouver Film Studios) became Canada’s first film production studio to declare itself carbon neutral. Recycling and composting has been widely adopted on big productions with almost every major show in town currently using one vendor for all their needs.

While these first steps have certainly started the sustainability momentum in the Motion Picture industry, there is still much we can do for keeping up with the rest of the increasingly green-minded Metro area and the City's 2020 Action Plan.

In 2002 stakeholders in B.C. film created the MPPIA, or Motion Picture Industry Association of B.C. The organization was formed based on the belief that increased industry unity meant a higher chance of maintaining the policies and practices necessary to preserve regional success. It is organizations like this that help maintain, sustain and bring sustainability to the local industry.

The Metro Vancouver sustainability plan and City of Vancouver’s 2020 mandate may present a worthwhile opportunity to further Industry solidarity. Considering the unique role of the motion picture business in helping solidify public opinion, the industry has a great opportunity to align with the local sustainability movement.  It is with this awareness and collaboration that forward progress is made and great things happen. What an exciting time for our industry!