Menu Menu

The studio aiming to make Hollywood productions sustainable

Atlanta based movie studio, Electric Owl, is aiming to lower Hollywood’s hefty carbon footprint by offering green amenities to production companies.

Watching movies and television is far and away the biggest pastime within the United States, with adults consuming an estimated 17% more of this content than 25 years ago.

Our ceaseless demand for watchable entertainment has come at a severe environmental cost, however, with data suggesting each big-budget film generates around 3,000 tons of CO2.

As this average worsens year on year, the industry will inevitably be forced to reckon with its harmful practices in the near future. Thankfully, several alternative studios are already popping up with a distinct focus on sustainability.

In recent years, extortionate prices for filming spaces in LA and New York have driven movie and TV productions to Georgia – which, conveniently, is also home to a burgeoning studio offering the chance to meet green quotas.

Electric Owl Studios, opening next month, is the first purpose-built studio campus on the planet with a gold rating in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Its grounds sprawl 312,000 square feet across six sound-stages and mill spaces set for construction.

Its eco-friendly amenities include solar panels, high efficiency HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems), 48 charging stations for electric vehicles, solar-powered golf carts for on-site accessibility, and systematic operations for recycling and food composting.

While film sets are typically demolished and sent to landfill, Electric Owl is working with a company called Lifecycle Building Center to collect elements of retired sets and sell them to other productions. Leftover lumber, meanwhile, will be donated to circular groups like Habitat for Humanity.

Where possible, the studio will aim to give away catered food left by film crews to charities and food banks. Unsuitable items can reportedly be repurposed for use on campus after being dehydrated on site.

As we’ve seen countless times from big names in the energy sector, high production costs associated with renewables will turn away most companies with a strict bottom line. In the case of Electric Owl, however, all of its sustainable infrastructure has added just 1% to its budget.

The key to achieving this competitive price was finding the right partner for each aspect of the build. When it came to securing the sizable power needed for lighting, for instance, Cherry Street Energy installed solar panels for free and created a plan to charge at a kilowatt-hour use rate.

‘We could not have afforded to buy solar panels and pay for the installation ourselves,’ said studio co-owner Dan Rosenfelt. ‘That would have blown us out of the water.’

‘If prices are competitive, the green facilities are a way to stand out from the crowd,’ he explained. ‘We want to be a very special boutique hotel for movies and TV shows.’

In the context of the wider industry, major Hollywood producers are beginning to seriously consider sustainability targets. Netflix is aiming to halve its greenhouse emissions by 2030, and NBCUniversal is striving for carbon neutrality by 2035.

With operations slated to launch next month, Electric Owl could quickly land itself a serious clientele list. Let’s hope this is the start of a more ecologically responsible entertainment industry in the US.