“No Orangutans Were Harmed In The Making Of This Scenery.” That was a proposed slogan that came out of a brainstorming session during a green marketing seminar held recently at Showman Fabricators. As a New York commercial scene shop, we have made a commitment to sustainability over the last few years and used this seminar as an opportunity to help with future plans. (Another idea was edible scenery, but we won't go there.) Fortunately, there are many established green practices that have become standard at Showman and other shops, so orangutans and edible scenery can be left out of the marketing plans. Showman's EMS (Environmental Management System) is a detailed roadmap, structured in two parts, charting a course for personnel to act green. The first part outlines best practices, and the second part provides clients with solid options to greatly lessen the environmental impact their projects have. Getting the word out is the first of many steps to encourage clients to think beyond what they've always done.

As we try to maximize sustainable practices both as a supplier of scenery and as a consumer of raw goods and energy, we intend to have policies that make being green much more than just a passing trend. Every aspect of company operations is being scrutinized to see what's green and what is not as green as it could be. For instance, while we have long-standing practices to recycle steel, aluminum, and plastics, the shop floor can now recycle significant portions of wood waste, drastically reducing what ends up at a landfill.

Beyond one scenery fabricator, greening in the entertainment industry is still largely in its infancy. But, there are many folks in the business taking the first steps toward making sustainability a part of everyday business practices:

  • Wicked sponsored a Town Hall Meeting to open the discussion in the Broadway community with featured speaker Allen Hershkowitz from the National Resource Defense Council. Department heads from the Wicked company discussed the numerous efforts practiced daily, including battery reuse and proper disposal, reducing printing of stuffers, double-side printing of all documents, reducing what is printed, converting to LEDs where practical, and using environmentally-friendly detergents.

  • Broadway theatre owners are well into a program to convert marquee lights to LEDs, change dressing room lights to compact fluorescents with good color rendering, and upgrade HVAC units to higher efficiency models.

  • The Broadway League has sponsored an ad hoc committee to make recommendations to production personnel and theatre facilities.

  • Clark Transfer is offering carbon offsets through its Touring Green program to all touring customers including Broadway, orchestras, and ballets, as well as researching new technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

  • Silvercup Studios, one of New York's largest television and film facilities, has installed a 35,000sq-ft. green roof (New York City's largest) to reduce its energy consumption. Green roofs significantly reduce cooling costs, absorb water run-off, convert CO2 in the air to oxygen, and provide excellent sound insulation.

  • LDI 2007 sponsored a panel discussion about sustainability in the entertainment industry and will have several follow-up panels at LDI 2008 in Las Vegas. (See the conference schedule at www.ldishow.com for further details.)

  • Hollywood Goes Green Conference will have its second gathering in Los Angeles this year to address environmental issues in the entertainment industry.

  • PLASA gave an Environmental Award to recognize products that lead to essential environmental gains.

  • The Environmental Media Association (EMA) is linking celebrity awareness of sustainability to the film industry by giving various productions EMA Green Seal Awards, recently recognizing The Incredible Hulk, the first film to include the EMA Green Seal in its credits.

Like almost every other industry, being green in the world of show biz can have dramatic results such as:

  • Fighting soaring energy costs through reduced lighting loads, more efficient HVAC, energy-efficient transportation, and numerous other best practices.

  • Reducing natural resources consumption by remembering the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

  • Providing safer and healthier workplaces for actors, production personnel, and management through the use of low- and no-VOC paints, cleaners, etc.

  • Reducing one's impact on long-term global warming.

Green practices can and should be both big and small. In many cases, taking baby steps is the best way to start. While printing on both sides of a piece of paper may not save as many trees as replacing paper towels in all restrooms with hand dryers, it is nonetheless an important, easy step that will immediately raise consciousness and potentially inspire further action.

The entertainment industry also has one added benefit (and responsibility) to being green that perhaps most other industries don't. As Hershkowitz pointed out at the Wicked Town Hall Meeting, being green in the entertainment business goes well beyond just the direct benefits to the planet. The industry is all about communication in one form or another. Every time audiences see that a production has made efforts to be as green as possible, they walk away with the idea that they, too, should be green.

Check out www.showfab.com for other green suggestions and resources.