Local to global: how Film City Glasgow’s green policy aims to change the way the industry does business – for the good of the planet

March 13, 2014


It was two years ago now that Film City Glasgow first decided to put on their green thinking caps to help combat a then eye-watering projected spend on utilities bills. Ever since donning those environmentally friendly caps, their ideas have  evolved into their pioneering ‘Programme for Sustainability’ which aims to show production companies that by making small changes in the way they run their premises, they can save money, conserve energy and reduce emissions. By setting a good example, The Programme for Sustainability aims to act as a blueprint to change the industry for the better – the world over.

With that in mind, here’s a snapshot into the sustainable inner mechanics of the ‘heart and soul of Scotland’s Film and TV industry.

New Bin Stickers

At Film City Glasgow we began devising the idea behind our Programme for Sustainability two years ago when we calculated that our projected spend on utilities in the next ten years would reach the millions.  It was from this desire to be a sustainable business and to lead the way on being “green” across the Film and TV industry that we began our Programme for Sustainability.  We started by educating our tenants about sustainability; how being more energy efficient by making conscious choices to recycle more and use less energy affects the environment.   It also affects the costs of things like utilities and waste disposal.  We continue to educate and inspire our tenants through “Green Sub-Group” meetings where a representative from each office attends and feeds back information to the rest of the office.  Behaviour change takes time to establish, however we feel that the tenants are already behind our Programme and fully support our ideas for a sustainable future.

Research, Partners & Building Audits

We underwent a thorough research process; developing partnerships with like-minded businesses, undergoing building audits from Glasgow City Council and having consultations with specialists like Carbon Trust.  To make a real impact on our utilities spend we needed some serious capital funds to improve the fabric of the building.  We also needed to change the culture of our building users to maintain this impact.  We partnered with GCC Energy Management unit and Creative Scotland awarded us funds to deliver Project for Sustainability.

Green Sub-Group Meetings

Whilst raising funds presented a significant challenge, the task of inspiring our tenants and building users was far more complex.

We started by creating the Green Sub-Group.  Representatives from each office attend the quarterly green meetings and report the relevant information back to their offices and we keep them updated about changes in the building and in legislature.  Their role is vital to the success of the PFS.

Feasibility Studies, Building Installations and Changes to Recycling

Our first step was to remove the bins and waste paper baskets from each office and replace them with FCG branded recycling bins.  We created posters with instructions on recycling which emphasise the importance of being ‘green’.  These are tools which can act as a quick reference guide for new tenants and building users.  General and paper recycling bins are stationed in public areas of the building.  By doing this we are highlighting the impact and cost of excess waste going to landfill.  Since swapping the bins we have been able to reduce our collections of general waste and increase our recycling collections.

Next was the Main Hall.  The existing retro-fit system was not energy efficient or powerful enough to heat the space effectively.  After extensive feasibility studies FCG replaced the existing system with radiant heating.  It is predicted that this new system will save money whilst reducing gas usage.

We also insulated the loft-space, insulated the pipes in the boiler room, draft-excluded various doors and windows and hung insulating lined curtains in the Main Hall Foyer to reduce heat loss.  Lighting throughout the building is in the process of being changed over to energy saving bulbs.


Our ‘Outpost’ office was given a complete refurbishment, with Kingspan insulated walls, a lowered ceiling, new lighting and electric heating.  This improved workspace is now highly sought after by building tenants and visitors.

Monitoring and Evaluation

In order to properly evaluate the data we collected we employed John Easton from SUSTaim.  John has been charged with creating a report encompassing our data, and completing a building management survey with staff and tenants.

Screening event

We wanted to raise awareness of what we were doing within Film City.  In June we partnered with the Glasgow Film Theatre and hosted a screening of Markus Imhoof’s 2012 environmental documentary “More than Honey”.  The event was well attended and featured stalls from local bee-keeping and biodiversity project Johnny’s Garden, who provided a range of honey-inspired treats for the guests afterwards.

This week marks the launch of the Film City Glasgow’s guide to sustainable location shooting – a must read for professionals in the industry. In the words of FCG:

“If every production implements just one small change, we will protect the environment and save time and money!”

Read it here