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, responsible for shows like Parenthood, The Office and 30 Rock, along with our Universal Cable Productions (UCP), with shows like Syfy’s Warehouse 13 and USA’s Royal Pains, 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 every day work:

American Odyssey, NBC
Produced in New York, NY


American Odyssey is a complex journey through global politics, corporate espionage and military secrets involving three strangers who only have one thing in common… the truth. Behind the scenes, food waste is minimized through a partnership with the NY-based anti-poverty think tank Rock and Wrap It Up! who coordinates the donation of leftover edible food to local non-profit organizations, resulting in nearly 1,000 meals donated in the first season. At the production offices, staff makes use of washable dishes and cutlery in order to lessen their dependence on disposable products. The installation of a water filtration system also helps to lessen plastic waste by reducing the need for individual plastic water bottles. When building sets, the Construction department sources FSC-Certified Lauan from local lumber supplier, LeNoble Lumber. FSC certification ensures that forests are being responsibly managed so that future generations will have the same access to their abundant resources.


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 their 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 their 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 transform 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 the 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 the 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 that 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.