About six months ago, Albert started working at the BBC. Albert was tasked with helping our programmes become more 'sustainable' and quickly became well known for asking difficult but important questions to which we didn't always have the answer. Albert was available for work 24/7, never slept and never left the BBC.

OK no surprises, Albert's not a person, it's an online tool, a carbon calculator which was built at the BBC specifically to work out the carbon emissions of any TV programme. 'Albert' was a working title that just happened to catch on.

Albert enabled us to quickly and cheaply learn what a typical hour's worth of BBC TV production means in terms of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases mean climate change - we want our programmes to change the world - but not in that way! So the goal is to drive down emissions and drive up production sustainability...

Up to now, as I say, Albert's never left the BBC - it lives on our intranet site. But in the autumn that will change. We've formed a partnership with BAFTA and we'll be sharing Albert with the rest of the UK TV industry. Channel 4 and ITV have committed to using the new-look Albert along with indies, IMG, Kudos, Shine, TalkbackThames and TwoFour.

This is just the beginning of a great partnership and if you want to be involved, get in touch with BAFTA.

Our aim is for the UK to lead the world in the area of sustainable production and we will meet every month to discuss how we can improve Albert and to share best practice...

Albert's not moving house by magic so the BAFTA group has an equally impressive list of technical partners, all working with us on a charitable basis: AMEE, Aerian Studios, Microsoft, Mason Hardy, Outsourcery, Sharepoint City - all ensuring Albert is a practical tool that speaks the language of programme makers while based on a solid foundation of scientific know-how behind the scenes.

Tracking carbon is a moving target, particularly to an industry like ours that's not used to doing it. So in the words of the founder of AMEE - the people the Department of Energy and Climate Change use to check their sums - Albert is 'a fantastic prototype', not the definitive article. Mike Berners-Lee, author of a book called The Carbon Footprint of Everything, has likened today's carbon footprints to the maps drawn up by the ocean-going pioneers who first explored our world: full of uncertainty, with holes around places where we've not been yet, but essential as a first step towards getting us to the next level of knowledge.

Albert is the UK TV industry's first carbon map, our first step. The BBC will be publishing some Albert data later this year. Through our partnership with BAFTA and all the organisations listed above, the map will become more detailed, a little more complete, pointing us to where we need to go to build a sustainable future for content production.

Sally Debonnaire is Controller, Production Operations at the BBC

  • Read the BBC's press release about Albert's new departure on the press office web site.
  • The BBC's Head of Partnerships, Adrian Ruth, wrote about some recent breakthroughs here on the blog on 3 May.
  • The picture shows a TV camera in use at the BBC. It's from the BBC's picture library.


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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Phanatomic

    on 9 Apr 2012 17:54

    Wow that's a very nice tool. I'm doing my school project, and I have to figure out and compare the carbon emission levels of various miscellaneous sources including TV programmes. I use an online tool to compare two spreadsheets to organize all the values and data so the comparing part isn't much of an issue, but it'd be really great if I can just have access to Albert to get the values lol.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Orlando Sports Uniforms

    on 23 May 2011 20:04

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 4. Posted by Sally Debonnaire

    on 23 May 2011 15:25

    In response to JustMe:
    MediaCity UK - the BBC's new base in Salford - is built to a high standard and is classified as "excellent" by the rating system BREEAM. That means it'll be more environmentally efficient than Television Centre in London where staff are moving from. Looking at the wider aspect of sustainability, having a diverse production base across the UK means we should be helping local economies and reducing the focus on London.

    Sally Debonnaire - Controller, Production Operations

  • Comment number 3. Posted by Sally Debonnaire

    on 23 May 2011 15:21

    In response to Kit Green:
    We needed to build Albert because no existing software did what we wanted it to do - and that's why we want to share it with the rest of the industry. Albert is unique in that it looks at all the major aspects of programme production - the office, travel, studio energy, overnight accommodation, editing and diesel usage - and is designed to be as simple as possible to use by programme makers. You're right that several of these categories are of course common to other industries. But it's the combination that makes programme production unique and why we felt creating our own industry calculator was necessary. We'll be sharing more about what we've learnt from Albert later in the year.

    Sally Debonnaire - Controller, Production Operations

  • Comment number 2. Posted by JustMe

    on 20 May 2011 12:29

    Let me do a calculation for you, and I don't need a fancy tool to do it. Any carbon emissions you manage to save with this tool will not in a million years offset the amount you burnt by a pointless political move to Manchester.

    Silly gestures like this will not save the planet, and when they are at the public's expense they are not welcome.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Kit Green

    on 20 May 2011 09:37

    Whilst I agree that producers should be aware of their impact in this area I do find it strange that a dedicated film industry solution is required, rather than off the shelf software. (It may be that in fact your Albert solution can be adapted for other industries so all the better and feather in your cap.)

    Surely the bulk of the carbon footprint of a production will be transport of cast, crew, sets and equipment (not forgetting the catering truck!). After that I would expect that buildings themselves should be included, as in a percentage of original build impact (Media City?) and the footprint of ongoing building usage.

    Is there any information in the public domain that breaks down a typical production? It is rather crucial to understanding the subject.

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