Green is Universal | TV Production

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TV Production

Both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, NBCUniversal is integrating sustainability into our TV productions. The work we do to promote awareness about the environment on-air is highly visible. But what our audiences might not realize is that their favorite shows are also working hard behind the camera to green their own production practices. Our Universal Television (UTV) division, along with our Universal Cable Productions (UCP), has implemented a solid set of green best practices. Here are some highlights of these sustainable practices, along with other green initiatives from across our television operations:

  • NBCUniversal and the UTV and UCP shows developed a green Television Production Guide to share information, resources and best practices with each department to achieve more sustainable production.
  • UTV and UCP productions establish food donation partners, resulting in thousands of pounds of food being donated to those in need each season and reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfill.
  • We’re using reusable water bottles and water-filtration units on our productions wherever practicable.
  • We reuse set materials within shows and between shows when possible.

Here’s a closer look at some of the ways production crews are implementing green practices into their everyday work:

Mr. Robot, USA
Produced in New York, NY

Peter Kramer/USA Network

Peter Kramer/USA Network

Mr. Robot follows Elliot (Rami Malek), a young programmer who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and as a vigilante hacker by night. Elliot finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious leader (Christian Slater) of an underground hacker group recruits him to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. Compelled by his personal beliefs, Elliot struggles to resist the chance to take down the multinational CEOs he believes are running (and ruining) the world. The series also stars Portia Doubleday (“Her”), Carly Chaikin (“Suburgatory”) and Martin Wallström (“Simple Simon”).

Behind the scenes, the crew of Mr. Robot took steps to reduce their environmental impact through implementing sustainable production practices. In addition to recycling in the offices and on set, the office staff composted their food scraps through the NYC Compost Project. Diverting excess food waste from landfills through composting helps reduce the amount of methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere.

On set, the Lighting Department utilized energy-efficient LED set lighting. LED lighting requires less electricity to power the set lights, therefore reducing the energy demand required on set. After lunch, the catering department coordinated to donate leftover catering through Rock and Wrap It Up! This practice not only helped to reduce food waste, but it also gave back to the local community by feeding those who are food insecure throughout New York City and the surrounding boroughs.


Shades of Blue, NBC
Produced in New York, NY

SHADES OF BLUE -- Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r)  Jennifer Lopez as Detective Harlee Santos, Dayo Okeniyi as Michael Loman -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) is a charismatic single mother and resourceful detective at the heart of a tight-knit crew of Brooklyn detectives, led by enigmatic Lt. Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) who often steps outside the limitations of the law in order to effectively protect their precinct and their own. As a big illegal job looms on the horizon, the FBI catches Harlee in the act and pits her against her own unit. As newly turned informant, Harlee struggles to safeguard her work “family” and avoid arrest in order to stay with her daughter as she engages in a perilous dance with the FBI. Meanwhile, Wozniak, acting as the unit’s patriarch, begins an all-consuming hunt for the informant.

While filming in New York, the crew worked to incorporate sustainable production practices into daily operations. To help reduce the production’s dependency on conventional diesel, the Transportation Department sourced a B20 blend of biodiesel from Tri-State Biodiesel for use in the basecamp generator and several trucks. The Construction Department built set walls using FSC-Certified Meranti plywood from LeNoble Lumber. FSC certification ensures that the Meranti lumber is harvested responsibly and sustainably. The office crew actively recycled and composted their excess food waste through Kaufman Astoria’s recycling and composting program.

Shades of Blue has incorporated LED set lighting, both on stage and when shooting on location. The energy-efficient technology of LEDs also helps to reduce the energy demand required by the production. The caterers worked with the non-profit Rock and Wrap It Up! to donate leftover set catering. These donations not only helped reduce excess food waste, but also fed the food insecure community of New York City.


Suits, USA
Produced in Toronto, Ontario

Suits - Season 4

Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network

On USA’s hit legal drama Suits, the crew is working behind the scenes to ensure they are doing all that they can to reduce their overall environmental impact. These practices include a comprehensive waste diversion plan, which is implemented and observed throughout the offices and on all sets, where as many items as possible are recycled or composted. But before hitting the compost bin, leftover edible food from catering is donated to Second Harvest Toronto who distributes it to local nonprofit organizations to feed those in need. In Season 4, over 2,700meals were recovered for the hungry. In 2014, Suits was recognized with an EMA Green Seal Award honoring its outstanding sustainable production practices.


Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, Bravo
Produced in Vancouver, BC

Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce - Season 1

Photo by: Katie Yu/Bravo

Behind the scenes of Bravo’s first scripted series, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, the crew makes concerted efforts to lessen its environmental impact through the guidance of the NBCUniversal Sustainable Production Program. Recycling and compost bins are set up throughout the production offices, stages and when shooting on location. This important practice recovers recyclables that can be transformed into new material, and prevents organic waste from entering landfills where it can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. On set, single-use water bottles are kept to a minimum through the use of bulk water dispensers, creating an environment where crew can easily refill reusable water bottles. In addition, the crew of Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce works diligently to invest in the surrounding Vancouver community through the donation of surplus props and wardrobe to local nonprofit organizations.


Grimm, NBC
Produced in Portland, OR

Grimm - Season 4


Grimm is a drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales. After Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he’s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” he increasingly finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a Grimm.

The unique look and feel of Grimm’s sets can be partially attributed to sourcing reclaimed lumber from Aurora Mills, a local architectural salvage. By doing this, the demand for virgin lumber is reduced and a second life is given to lumber from old barns and buildings. The catering department sources produce from local farmer’s markets to serve at crew meals, and production trucks are fueled with B20 biodiesel when possible. From comprehensive composting and recycling to eliminating bottled water, the crew of Grimm implements sustainable production practices day in and day out.

Grimm has received an EMA Green Seal Award for seasons 1, 2 and 3, which honors their progress in sustainable production practices. In addition, Grimm was also the recipient of a Travel Portland Green Award during their 1st season.


Defiance, SyFy
Produced in Toronto, Ontario

Defiance - Season 2

Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Defiance takes place in the year 2047, and it’s a new Earth–with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. Behind the scenes, the set lighting is looking futuristic as well. Defiance uses LED fixtures from MachTech LED, reducing the amount of electricity needed to light sets. Like other NBCUniversal productions, a comprehensive plan for waste diversion, that includes recycling and compost, is observed by the crew both on set and in the offices. Leftover food from catering that is fit to donate goes to Second Harvest of Toronto, a nonprofit aimed at reducing food waste and hunger. This practice, instituted across NBCU productions, not only feeds those who are hungry, but also helps divert food waste from landfills and contributing to further methane gas emissions. Furthermore, Defiance is tracking its carbon footprint throughout the production to identify additional ways the production can reduce its environmental impact, this season and beyond.