HOLLYWOOD - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) made history tonight by partnering with the producers of the 79th Annual Academy Awards to significantly reduce the impact the telecast and related events had on the environment, setting a high profile example for an estimated 40 million viewers at a time when global warming, soaring energy demand and threats to forests and other landscapes are the focus of rising national attention.
The Academy Award's first-ever greening initiative -- which included a variety of energy-saving solutions -- was led by NRDC in collaboration with Oscar producer Laura Ziskin. The effort included offsetting carbon emissions of the pre-show, the red carpet event, the telecast, and the Governor's Ball; incorporating environmental features into the greenroom design; promoting recycling and reducing waste generated by the annual event; and using recycled materials in paper products, including the Oscar ballots themselves.
Leonardo DiCaprio, an NRDC trustee and nominee for Best Actor, announced this landmark initiative with former Vice President Al Gore during the live Oscar telecast. According to Mr. DiCaprio, "For the first time in the history of the Oscars, environmentally intelligent practices have been thoughtfully integrated into the planning of tonight's event to make our world healthier and help combat the threat of global warming."
This innovative project, which will be further enhanced at Oscar events in years to come, targeted ecologically significant impacts, including global warming pollution and energy use, paper products, set design, transportation, and food service.
"By announcing this initiative from such a legendary and respected stage, the Academy is reaching tens-of-millions of people across the world with a message that cleaner, more sensible energy choices and a simple commitment to environmental stewardship are Oscar-worthy endeavors for everyone," said Frances Beinecke, NRDC President. "On behalf of the NRDC, I would like to salute Oscar producer Laura Ziskin who worked to reduce the environmental impact of this production by making the Academy Awards carbon neutral, cutting waste, and choosing environmentally preferable materials."
NRDC, the nation's leading environmental research and advocacy organization, was instrumental in helping to oversee every aspect of this collaboration with the producer to assure that ecologically intelligent practices were implemented. The organization arranged for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to conduct an energy audit of the production and related events to assess their impact on the environment, and advised the production team on changes that could be made to save energy, encourage the use of recycled paper, prevent waste, and offset carbon emissions.
*Energy audit of Kodak Theatre; efficiency plan and recommendations.
*Renewable energy credits were purchased from Bonneville Environmental Foundation to offset carbon emissions from pre-show, red-carpet event, Oscar telecast, and Governor's Ball.
*Use of ecologically superior paper for telecast and non-telecast event materials such as nomination ballots, envelopes, press materials, programs, invitations, and certificates.
*Hybrid vehicle transportation provided for presenters and staff.
*Comprehensive recycling system instituted for event waste.
*Crew meals and craft services included reusable service materials and accessories, post-consumer tissue products, and biodegradable dishware.
*Governors' Ball menu featured organic and environmentally-friendly food, including seafood, dairy, produce, and even the large chocolate Oscar.
*Left-over Governor's Ball food donated to Angel Harvest.
Collectively, these impacts enable selected events of the Academy Awards to be "carbon neutral," a coveted environmental designation which means the event has reduced or prevented the accumulation of global warming gases in the atmosphere to make up for the gases that it has inadvertently emitted. Carbon neutral status is achieved by increasing the availability of renewable energy, supporting energy-efficiency improvements by industry or capturing and sequestering emissions. This landmark "greening" initiative has yielded immediate measurable benefits. Greenhouse gas offsets equivalent to 178 MW-hours of electricity were purchased, and the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the Academy Awards are presented, hired a new waste disposal company to implement a comprehensive recycling program that accurately and efficiently captures all recyclables.
A major goal of NRDC's collaboration on this project is to advance cultural momentum towards environmentally intelligent production and consumption by other mainstream businesses and organizations. By engaging with influential organizations and events such as the Academy Awards, NRDC is seeking to reach broad audiences and establish that the steps toward environmental health are accessible and adaptable to everyday life.
"We hope viewers will come away with an understanding that environmental change can be achieved through a series of deliberate, but relatively simple first steps," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at NRDC who managed the greening effort. "For example, when planning the Oscars, the organizers chose supplies, resources and services that reduced the production's ecological footprint. These decisions established a great precedent for a more extensive, long-term program in the years to come."
"The amount that we accomplished during this inaugural effort exceeded our expectations. The intelligence and energy the production team brought to this noble endeavor sets an example for future productions, as well as for businesses," said Hershkowitz. "By advocating environmental responsibility and encouraging action against global warming and to protect intact forests, from the world's best known stage, we hope to promote positive changes in the way businesses and individuals think about our Earth, and, especially, how they act."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.