It’s the organisation people love to hate. But as the BBC’s project manager for environmental sustainability, Hattie Park is on a mission to use the corporation’s unique position to encourage the whole industry to collectively reduce its impact on the planet.
I interviewed her this month for Ethical Performance magazine. You can read the whole thing here (sorry subscription needed). And she was in great form.
Squeezed inside New Broadcasting House (seriously, anybody that wants to accuse the BBC of being bloated and wasteful should visit this place - you can't move for staff sardine-d in, working three at desks designed for two), she gave me a tour of the place before hitting on one of her clear passion points: albert.
No, he's not a colleague; albert is the name of the industry's certification system designed to align the whole TV production sector in minimising its environmental footprint when making the shows we know and love. Enabled by the BBC's unique independence, the corporation has been able to bring the various players from across the industry, including ITV, Sky and Channel 4, as well as a bunch of other indie producers, to sign up to a common sustainability methodology.
The BBC's environmental sustainability lead, Hattie Park
We all know that sector collaboration can be a pain in the backside. But albert is a genuine success. “We're not making tins of beans, so every production is different, every time - and you can’t compare ‘Frozen Planet’ with ‘Flog It’," she tells me. So, albert – created by Hattie’s “brilliant colleague” Richard Smith in 2010 – offers a way for production teams to calculate their own impacts, understand where they can make a difference (whether that’s in making sure cast accommodation is closer to the sets to reduce transport, or saving power by using low-energy lighting) and compare themselves with similar types of productions.
Today, 280 companies have signed up to use albert, and it has more than 1,800 users.
Sector initiatives could learn a lot from albert and the work Hattie and her team has done to 'on-board' the various fragments of the sector - something she says was "fairly easy". The system is now collectively owned by all players in the industry and further developments of it are now planned. Hattie is keen, for example, to use the albert certification badge to try to educate consumers on the measures that have been taken to bring their latest episode of EastEnders to the screen in the most responsible way possible. "To be honest, we're going to need more resources to get that message out there," admits Hattie.
Anyway, it's well worth checking out the interview and exploring albert (and the accompanying albert+ which is taking things even further). Predictably, the BBC is under constant attack as to how it spends its money. Yet stories about how it saves the public purse cash are rarely amplified, and should be.
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