Sustainability Is a Process

Marten von Velsen-Zerweck’s Hamburg-based company nserve Environmental Service develops cost-efficient strategies to reduce emissions for corporate customers. Film and television producers can also benefit from his know-how. Eco-friendly compensation projects with a cross-media potential open up paths to increased viewer loyalty.

‘All commodities are getting more expensive and this is reflected in the budget for film and television productions‘, explains Marten von Velsen-Zerweck, co-founder and Managing Director of nserve Environmental Services GmbH. ‘Ecological sustainability pays off for film productions because sustainable management also directs attention to costs. The emission hotspots – i.e., areas where a lot of energy is used – correspond with high expenditure hotspots.’ nserve’s core business does not simply register emissions but it also develops a strategy for reducing them as well.

In areas that offer no potential for optimization, the carbon balance can be offset by investments in ecologically sustainable projects. ‘This spawns direct long-term business partnerships between developing nations and industrialized countries,’ the climate protection expert states. ‘Transferring technology and know-how is an innovative approach to find an international solution for a global crisis.’ The compliance of the emission reduction projects with the quality standards is ensured by multi-step audits. The specifications in use were developed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn.

‘Producers or broadcasters can support a project on a long-term base by buying certificates and communicate their commitment across all media platforms’, says von Velsen-Zerweck. TV series in particular have a high potential for generating loyal audiences. For example, a reforestation project could help protect a certain animal species and this could be documented in a making-of. ‘The audience can participate directly and periodically receive blog posts and images via social networks and websites.’

Other conceivable options include emission projects that have a thematic link to a film that is being shot – for example – in South Africa. Again, the fans could see for themselves that there is no greenwashing going on.

‘Sustainability is a process,’ resumes the nserve co-founder. A producer can’t work with complete sustainability from one day to the next and cut emissions by one hundred percent. ‘Improvement is achieved incrementally from production to production.’ The remaining CO2 emissions can be compensated in an ecologically worthwhile way via sustainable projects.

‘The certificates are clearly linked to specified projects that deliver reductions in emissions‘, emphasizes von Velsen-Zerweck. ‘It is important to familiarize oneself with these and to be ready for controversial discussions.‘  As a matter of course, it would not be contradictory to back sustainable production yet still occasionally take the plane for reasons of time and cost.