In 2009, the Emmy Award-winning drama series 24 became the first ever television production to go completely carbon neutral. The crew pioneered a set of innovative sustainability measures that have since become common practice in the industry, prompting a featured story in The New York Times. Dana Walden, Co-Chairman/CEO of the Fox Television Group, told the Times that she hoped the result would be "a more gratifying viewing experience, even if it is at a more subconscious level." This year, the show returned as the 24: Live Another Day event series, and the team at Twentieth Century Fox Television seized the opportunity to continue the groundbreaking green production work they had begun five years before.
However, the new season of 24 presented a new set of sustainability challenges. While past seasons had been filmed in Los Angeles, the series would now be shot on location in London at a vacant Gillette razor factory built in 1937, preventing the team from taking advantage of the green production programs already in place on the Fox Studios Lot. Yet, this change allowed them to expand the scope of the project beyond carbon emissions tracking to include waste management, responsible set design, and sustainable food purchasing.
See below for more detail on the sustainability measures taken during the production of 24: Live Another Day.
Before filming began, the team took care to establish a sustainable work environment in which to shoot:
- 100% of the lumber purchased for set construction received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible management of the world's forests.
- Where possible, sets were constructed with disassembly in mind so that materials could be more easily recycled or reused.
Reduce, Reuse, Donate
The production established three essential guidelines to help them reduce waste: 1) use less, 2) reuse materials whenever possible, and 3) donate items that could be used by others. By enacting these principles, the team was able to divert 98% of the show's waste from landfill.
- The Property Department rented and returned items whenever possible. Furniture items used for stunt work were purchased from a charity shop and were not in saleable condition before they were used, thus giving them a second use.
- The Costume Department brought a set of stock attire that was reused episode to episode with very little waste at the end of production. Any remaining stock was archived as a studio asset or was taken to be used on another production.
- At the end of production, all sealed food and drinks were donated to the YMCA hostel in Ealing, a supported housing project for young people aged 16-35.
- Production offices used only recycled paper from ethical sources, and any leftover stationary was sent to other productions for reuse.
- All office materials were either donated or sold to other productions including fans, heaters, furniture, kitchen items, kettles, and stationery. Very little waste was generated by clearance of the production offices.
- 200 unused hard hats and high visibility vests were given to Palace Scenery Construction to be used for future productions.
- Rather than throw out empty containers, the Makeup Department reused packaging whenever possible.
- Polystyrene sculptures and leftover foam were donated to a prop house.
Sustainable catering is an important component of green production, including the responsible sourcing of food and the careful treatment of waste:
- Instead of individual plastic water bottles, all cast and crew were given reusable water bottles, and water was delivered in bulk. 19-liter bottles were used in the studio, which were returned to the supplier for reuse after shooting wrapped. On location, the team supplied 10-liter boxes of water from which cast and crew could refill their bottles. This strategy allowed the production to avoid the use of 30,640 plastic water bottles.
- Local, seasonable, and organic food options were purchased wherever possible, and no red-list seafood was used. Deliveries to site were kept to a minimum to avoid traffic, and recyclable boxes were used during supermarket trips instead of plastic bags.
- When meals were served, the default option for cutlery and plates was reusable, and all takeaway boxes were 100% biodegradable. Throughout production, compostable cutlery and takeaway items were used. Bowls and boxes were made from sugar cane and cutlery from sustainably-sourced birch. Food waste was separated out for composting.
When 24 began monitoring its carbon emissions in 2009, the team found that the show's largest source of emissions was fuel used in transport vehicles, special effects, and onsite generators. The 24: Live Another Day team kept this in mind when crafting a strategy for fuel efficiency:
- At the studio in London, all unit base trailers, catering vehicles, tech vehicles, and battery charging were powered using grid power instead of a 100kva diesel generator, which saved more than 3,400 gallons of diesel and reduced carbon emissions by 35 tons.
- No private jet travel was allowed, and the showrunners and cast were allowed only one set of return flights to the US.
- Through a partnership with Climate Cars, only hybrid cars were available for hire, saving an estimated 142 gallons of gas and reducing carbon emissions by 1 ton.
Emissions data compiled by Deloitte.
24: Live Another Day will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the US on Tuesday, September 30. For a preview of the featurette on Green Production, which will be included on the DVD and Blu-Ray, watch the video below.
Fox is proud to support the Green Production Guide, a project of the Producer's Guild of America promoting best practices in sustainable film and television production.