The paperless office on-set is on the upswing. Scripts and call sheets are no longer printed out as hard copy in large numbers. But digital data transfer is not climate- neutral, because smart phones and tablets consume much more energy than the charge in their batteries. The increasing amounts of data stored on cloud servers are leading to a rising demand for energy in data centers. “One Google search can take you sixty meters in an automobile”, says Helge Gallefoss, CEO of the Norwegian company Fjord IT, whose green data center is more than 98%-powered by renewables from wind- and waterpower stations.
In most countries, the energy mix supplied by the power grid is generated by either coal or nuclear power stations. In Germany, the share of power generation from renewables increased to 46 % in 2019, but more than 30 % of the power is still being generated by coal. The energy consumption of data centers worldwide is between 200 and 500 billion kWh. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior, data centers generate 3.7 % of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, and they leave a greater carbon footprint than the sum total of all air traffic. About 80 % of these digital transfers is attributable to video streaming. Due to video-on-demand services, more than 100 megatons of carbon emissions are generated every year, which equals the carbon footprint of Chile.
Due to the introduction of 5G cell-phone standards, which will enable high speed data connections of 10 Gbit/s and latency below one millisecond for video streaming in real-time on mobile devices, the energy consumption of data centers will rise sharply. According to early indications from The Shift Project, the ICT industry’s (Information and Communications Technology) carbon footprint could double to 8 % of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. According to this forecast, the yearly energy consumption of data centers could reach 2,000 billion kWh by 2030.
The IT industry is already at work on solutions to increase energy efficiency. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) serves as an indicator, which represents the relationship between the energy demanded of IT versus the total energy expenditure of data centers. Besides electrical power for IT, cooling, power supply, lighting, sensors, and security systems also have to be powered.
More than a third of the energy consumption is devoted to cooling servers to temperatures of 21°– 25° C. The American standard organization ASHRAE created models to increase the temperature to the 27°– 30° C range so that energy devoted to cooling could be subs- tantially reduced. “The willingness to accept higher temperatures is limited”, admits Günter Eggers, Deputy Chair of the industry working group Datacenter & Hosting, “because there is less of a buffer zone in case of a power blackout.”
Industry giants Google and Amazon are building data centers in areas that have naturally low outdoor temperatures. Microsoft is experimenting with energy supplied by fuel cells as well as with underwater data centers. The Norwegian data center is also using natural cooling systems. At the AM3 Datencenter in Amsterdam, cooling water is pumped from a depth of 170 meters below ground, while a green roof improves the building’s insulation. Recycling heat waste holds vast potential. In Germany alone there is 14 TWh of heat available in data centers. “With half of this secondary heat, we could heat tens of thousands of buildings”, sums up Eggers. “But we lack the infrastructure."
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.