Remember Jared, the guy who lost all that poundage by eating at Subway? That media campaign launched the chain's reputation as the healthy fast-food place, and has since spawned something else: a greener Subway. (More about this later.)
Subway, along with IBM, General Motors, NBC Universal and several other companies were featured guests at Hollywood Goes Green, a two-day confab (December 11 and 12) hosted by iHollywood Forum, giving industryites a place to hear eco-news from influencers, share green branding secrets and find ways to apply initiatives to their own businesses and brands.
At the same time the United Nations was discussing climate change in Bali, Hollywood insiders were finding out how 6,000 computer servers were used (and eventually landfilled) during the creation of movies like "Lord of the Rings." Who knew that information technology (IT) was such a green Gollum?
IT--the core of most businesses, including media and entertainment--represents 2% of global emissions! Not only are the six million servers in America's data centers a predicament, they need to be housed in a specially controlled climate (read: heavy-duty air conditioning) and they burn through 100 times the power of an average office.
IBM to the rescue. The tech giant has committed significant money and resources to transform the world's business and public technology infrastructures into "green" data centers. Imagine: For each 25,000-square-foot data center, an IBM client could save up to 42% in energy.
And servers aren't the only film-industry blight. Tom Burns, director of post-production and infrastructure at Technicolor, talked about the ongoing research to find a nontoxic substance to clean film. "Every facet of production is being scrutinized," he says.
This would be good news for one audience member, a makeup artist whose last job was on the set of a preserved historic building: the warehouse where Howard Hughes built the Spruce Goose. Sound glamorous? Hardly. She says it was filled with so much mold and contaminants that she wishes she hadn't taken the job. At the green-housing session, an industry set builder complained about the enormous waste he witnesses every day on the job.
"The future is all about regulation," asserts Ted van der Linden, from the U.S. Green Building Council--the guys who created The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. It's true there are still many city ordinances and codes to deal with, REThink Development's Greg Reitz says, but eventually we need to get to a place where every building meets the LEED scorecard.
One unexpected building did get LEED certified: Subway's first "eco-store" in Kissimmee, Fla.--one they hope will be the first of many. Solar panels line the shop's roof providing energy, the bathroom lights trigger on only when it's occupied, and all trash gets recycled. Probably most hopeful is the move toward distribution centers (the places that supply the bread, meats and veggies for Jared's foot-long) located closer to the chain's 27,000 stores, which means increased opportunity for locally sourced food.
As expected for a Hollywood Goes Green agenda, studio execs took the stage to tout their respective eco-programs. NBC Universal Green Council Chair Lauren Zalaznick shares how the Universal is Green program was born in 12 short weeks. The studio committed one week to "Green is Good" programming. Zalaznick says the "Today" show with Matt Lauer reporting from the Arctic, Ann Curry from Antarctica and Al Roker at the equator was a ratings booster.
The overall green effort, Zalaznick says, mobilized the studio in a way never before seen (synergy at its best)--and reached well over 100 million people including consumers, media and the blogging communities. The studio delivered 150 hours of green programming, even launching an online presence at Universalisgreen.com.
But the biggest barrier, Zalaznick says, is overcoming skepticism from consumers, from activists, from the industry itself. She found that people want actionable information. So PSA eco-messages were filmed with talent from all walks of NBCU's family--Alec Baldwin and Howie Mandel from NBC, Tricia Helfer (Sci Fi Channel), Jeffrey Donovan (USA Networks) and Maria Celeste (Telemundo).
Sundance Green Channel has Robert Redford in their corner, giving their blocks of eco-programming credibility and cachet. Discovery launched the 24-hour Planet Green network and garnered applause after showing a promo for "Eco-Town," a Leonardo DiCaprio-produced 13-part docu-series about the rebuilding of a tornado-ravaged Kansas town.
Conference speaker Larry Hagman probably had the best line of the day when he talked about his Ojai home, which sports the largest residential solar system in the country. "I'm just so proud of myself!" says the 76-year-old eco-maverick. In a press release Hagman also proclaimed: "The thrill of not using electricity is wonderful. It's not better than sex, but it's better than a bowl of oatmeal." Tip of our hats to you, J.R.
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