Navigation to come...
Action Guide

Green Budgets

Budgeting is a producer's bread and butter. The production budget is the lens through which almost all decisions are made from start to finish which makes it a critical tool for climate action.
Producers are concerned not only with staying on budget, but ensuring that as much money as possible is spent ‘on-screen’.

Green budgets dedicate a portion of your production's budget to sustainability measures – many of which may have off-screen impacts. Green practices present producers with a conundrum as they can more expensive or less available.
With innovative thinking and the use of new technologies, producers can remove hundreds of tonnes of GHG pollution from their carbon footprint without spending a single dime.
Financial limitations in the budget can be one of the primary barriers to green production. The key to changing this is to consider sustainability at the outset of the budgeting process.  Ask your teams to consider green options when creating department budgets and create visible lines in  your budget to track green costs.  

The Green Premium

The so-called “green premium” is the difference in cost between business-as-usual, and going-green. As the theory goes, the adoption of green practices on a large scale requires that the green premium of sustainable options be brought as close to zero as possible.

The CMPA’s Green Premium Report of 2022 looked at the costs associated with greening high impact budget lines on scripted productions (e.g.: transport, set power, waste, studios) and found a green premium of between 9% and 40%, depending on the line item. However, when the budget was taken as a whole, the additional costs actually produced a net savings in many cases.

A battery power unit, for example, may be more expensive than its diesel counterpart, but the cost is more than offset by fuel savings, resulting in a net budget savings. The CMPA report also found that the budget lines of transportation and set power returned the greatest portion of carbon savings for the cost investment, which should be central to the planning of any green production.
“When creating a green budget, I distinguish between additive costs that push the budget upwards, such as green positions, 3rd party waste sorting, electric generators and subtractive costs such as careful selection of locations, focused on reducing travel distance and the number of unit moves which reduces fuel and transport costs. Some solutions are both - like EVs, the upfront cost is higher, but the savings on fuel over the course of a project may cover this added upfront cost. Taking green learnings from season 2 into season 3, we paid close attention to these two buckets of solutions. Through this analysis, we were able to achieve more impact without major increases to our budget. All of this is so much easier and more likely to succeed if planned well in advance.”
New Metric Media Logo
Max Wolfond
VP, Production / Supervising Producer, Children Ruin Everything

Labour Costs

When the labour cost of the sustainability team is added to the budget  (e.g.: sustainability supervisor, eco-PA’s, green consultants), the cost to the production can grow.  Some producers report that the most savings in greenhouse gases and financial costs were realized when they had a dedicated sustainability team leading the way, setting out a potential business case for the additional labour spend.

Until green practices become the new normal, it is recommended that productions hire sustainability positions where the budget can support it.

Travel & Transportation

Fossil fuel dependent activities such as air and vehicle travel should be the primary priorities when planning and budgeting for green production. Reducing fuel can be a straightforward cost savings on the bottom line and can in many cases mostly or completely offset the premium cost of alternatives like EV’s or battery power units.  Review every line in the budget that has a dependency on burning fossil fuels and opt for alternatives wherever possible.

Sustainable Scheduling

Some departments, like Art, Locations, or Accounting others, may need extra time in prep or wrap to undertake sustainable choices, such as footprints sustainable strikes, rehoming materials or sourcing green materials or equipment. Ensure that you are including the extra time they’ll require into the budget ahead of time.

Climate Overages

If your climate risk assessment uncovers an exposure to the production of extreme weather events, consider setting a climate contingency in your budget. Consider tracking budget line overruns related to extreme weather events and report them as climate overages. Ensure that this information makes its way back to senior leaders responsible for risk assessments, and future planning and corporate reporting. 

Carbon Budgeting

Carbon budgeting is the practice of estimating your carbon footprint based on the expected budget of the production. In other words, tying a greenhouse gas number as a consequence to the dollars you intend to spend. Several free tools are available to producers which offer the capacity to create a carbon budget or carbon estimate in pre-production and some green certification programs may require an upfront estimation of emissions.

A carbon budget is useful as a tool for creating a sustainability plan by grounding your plans in actual emissions estimates and focusing your teams on actions that will have the most impact.  When shared with your team, it can be a great way to increase awareness of the areas of production that are the most carbon intensive, and to target and track the effectiveness of your sustainability initiatives.

Best Practices

Consider the following in your company and in your productions:
  • Ask your production managers, line producers and HOD’s to include sustainable practices in their budget estimates.
  • Budget for a sustainability team, where practical.
  • Consider risk assessments in budgeting and ensure the production is prepared financially to withstand extreme weather. 
  • Track and report on climate overages.
  • Make a carbon budget to estimate the emissions upfront and use it to plan reduction strategies on key emitting activities and track progress through the production. 
  • Make the connection between money spent (or saved) and the impact on the carbon footprint. Report on how much money you spent (or saved) on green practices and use this information in communications with interest-holders and when launching your next project. 
  • Budget for additional time during prep and wrap for teams to deliver on your sustainability plans and goals.