Greening cinemas

Managing resources, protecting the environment, and responding to climate change are increasingly vital issues for motion picture theaters. Over the past years, film exhibitors have seen digitization lead to tremendous increases in energy costs. Using power, heat, and air condi- tioning more efficiently together with the use of renewables can radically reduce energy costs.


Published by the German Federal Film Board (FFA), The Green Cinema Handbook provides an overview of proven methods for reducing the consumption of resources as well as cutting costs. “The broad range of possibilities encom- passes not only small cost-neutral improvements but also significant investments in upgrades that can be offset by funding from a number of programs”, says Peter Dinges, Chairman of the FFA. “For the FFA, it‘s a natural step to present future-oriented measures to reduce energy as well as to promote economic sustainability for motion picture theaters.”


The Handbook focuses on energy efficiency, renewables, concessions, and waste management. “The Green Cinema Handbook advises exhibitors of legal requirements that must be met, environ- mentally friendly measures that can be taken, and successful practices that exhibitors have already undertaken”, says Birgit Heidsiek, FFA Green Cinema Consultant. Investments – that pay off in the medium term – in building insulation, the replacement of a central-heating boiler, or the upgrade of a ventilation system can all contribute to tremendous savings in energy costs.


The best way to achieve one-hundred percent renewables is self-generated energy. Investment in a photovoltaic system is not supported by the FFA but it ends up paying off twice for exhibi- tors: it reduces energy costs and exhibitors are compensated for solar power that they feed back into the grid. The compensation is regulated by law and was established to return investment in photovoltaic systems.


Even micro-investments can make a terrific impact. For instance, the refrigeration system for soft drinks available at the concession stand doesn’t have to run non-stop 24/7; a time switch can instead turn the fridge off during off-business hours. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s saving on energy consumption with renewables, or relying on the use of alternative products — the premise remains the same: ecology works in tandem with economics.


At the concession stand, minimizing plastic waste is of the utmost importance. Paper products are perceived as more environmentally friendly, but they often cannot be recycled. Coated cups, for example, wind up in the incinerator. And there is no system for composting bioplastics in Germany. Meanwhile, The Hamburg-based start-up company Bio-Lutions International is bringing biodegradable tableware to the market which is made of plant waste and is completely compostable.


Waste management is a legal obligation for cinema exhibitors. The amended commercial waste regulations require higher recycling quotas. There are various regulations in the European Union that have yet to be adopted nationally, as in the case of energy-efficient buildings, lighting, eco-design of electric appliances and ventilation systems, the use of renewables, drinking water quality, and the prohibition of the use of plastics as well as the recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).


Photos: © FFA/DR-images/, Bio-Lutions International

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