BBC travel emissions up, finds annual report

Airplane landing at Heathrow Transport emissions per person are up 3% from the year before

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In the month that climate change made headlines around the world, the BBC has released figures showing that it has only made minor progress in becoming a more sustainable and green organisation.

It still faces an uphill struggle in key areas, particularly its travel emissions. These are the latest findings from the BBC's annual review into its corporate responsibility performance, published in September.

The BBC has made small improvements in its energy and water consumption year on year, but its carbon emissions related to business travel per person have gone up.

According to the latest figures for 2012/13, transport emissions per person have risen 3% in a year. The BBC has a target of reducing its transport-related carbons by 20% by March 2016. It currently has reduced travel emissions by 5% per person since the targets were first set in 2007.

Last year's corporate responsibility report showed that the BBC had made notable improvements in this key area, having doubled the reduction of travel emissions recently, from 4% in 2011 to 8% in 2012. But this year's data reverses the downward trend.

Difficult to crack

Hattie Park, the BBC's project manager for environmental sustainability, says: 'Travel is undoubtedly a difficult area to crack, and we need to travel to do our jobs - but there are things we can and should do to cut down on the unnecessary trips.

'Think before you travel - try Lync for internal meetings, and really question the need for domestic flights; they still make up a hefty chunk of our travel CO2 emissions despite our "rail as default" policy.'

The project manager, who will be in charge of setting the BBC's new environmental targets for 2016 and beyond, doesn't believe the current ones are unrealistic, with the exception of business-related travel emissions, which she acknowledges will be an ongoing 'challenge'.

Recycling rates

In the other key areas - water, energy and recycling - the numbers are all down from the previous year. Recycling across the corporation now stands at 65%, a big jump from last year's 51%. This means the BBC is well on its way to hitting its target of 70%.

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Water usage is down to a total reduction of 7%, but the BBC's target is 25%, which leaves a way to go. Energy consumption is similar, with a target to reduce it by 20%, while currently it stands at 4%. Overall CO2 emissions from buildings and technology is 6% down since 2007, which is a 1% improvement on last year's figures. It also has a target of 20%.

One of the BBC's main strategies for hitting these targets in 2016 remains reducing its overall property portfolio and concentrating staff into fewer, more energy-efficient buildings.

The closure of TVC - one of the least efficient buildings in the portfolio - will have a bigger impact on the BBC's environmental targets when the final handover to Stanhope happens in 2015, but at the moment the building still continues to affect these percentages.

Collaboration

The BBC and Bafta continue to work together to spearhead sustainability best practice across the industry. One of the main methods is through the use of Albert, which calculates how many greenhouse gases are being released into the environment as a result of making a programme.

A new companion method, called Albert+, is currently being tested at the BBC by a number of different productions including CBBC's Wizards vs Aliens.

Albert+ is essentially a checklist that covers all aspects of a production and nudges programme makers to make greener choices. Park hopes that eventually productions will be given an environmental rating - this could be a star or some sort of end-credit credential - if they hit certain targets.

Better resources

Media Greenhouse, meanwhile, is a new website and newsletter launched by Bafta. Its aim is to help programme makers across the industry to make more sustainable productions. The website has a number of case studies which programme makers can follow, with most of the case studies about BBC programmes and productions.

The BBC's sustainability team has also collaborated with the BBC Academy to produce a training film about sustainable production, presented by Dragons' Den regular Deborah Meaden and available to watch on The Difference website.

In order for the BBC and other broadcasters to get better at offsetting their environmental impact, it's fairly clear that there will need to be a concerted effort to pull together.

Park says, 'Collaboration and education is fundamental to the evolution of our work in sustainable production.'

  • To find out more about making a difference at work, visit The Difference or join the Yammer Environment group and be part of the conversation.

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