In the Netherlands, green broadcasting is part of the business model
by Birgit Heidsiek
By introducing the first sustainable Outdoor Broadcasting (“OB”) van, the Dutch service company DutchView is setting a new benchmark in the broadcast business. This energy-efficient television production vehicle consumes 30% less energy than a traditional OB van, which makes it a real cost cutter.
“We are trying to be as sustainable as possible in the broadcast market”, is how Dimitri Traas explains DutchView’s philosophy. The company operates 14 studios in Amsterdam and Hilversum where large-scale television productions, such as entertainment and talk shows, are produced. The company, the leader in the Dutch market, also owns a huge fleet of OB vans for broadcasting Netherlands national soccer league matches as well as outdoor festivals. “When you put together a TV production truck, you have to take into account its different aspects, such as the vehicle, the technical equipment, and the air conditioning in order to see how you can make it a bit more sustainable“, reports Project Manager Peter Slot.
Back in 2010, when DutchView began developing the idea of a green OB van, many essential elements of sustainability, such as LED lights and OLED monitors, were hardly available for high-end production. “LED lights were available in the market at the time, but our main challenge was creating an LED lighting scheme for the truck,” says Trass. “We were early adaptors when we tried to get professional video monitors without tubes“, says Slot. “Nowadays, it‘s not an issue anymore because the whole market has shifted towards OLED and LED screens.“ This advantage pays off twice because LED lights require less air conditioning. This Dutch service provider was also in the vanguard when it set up a separate equipment room in the truck and supplied it with its own air conditioning system. This is more efficient because computer servers need lower temperatures than does the crew. In the meanwhile, this solution has become a benchmark of quality in the broadcast industry.
The choice of truck is also of critical importance. “We chose a diesel engine that runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) because a fully electric or hybrid vehicle was not an option for a 25-ton truck.“ OB vans don‘t usually have to travel long distances in the Netherlands in order to get to a production location. But in 2014, a DutchView crew drove to the Olympic Games in Sotchi in a sustainable OB van.
When it came to the television production equipment inside the OB van, the goal was to develop switchers and routers that consumed less energy. “At that time, Grass Valley had the best offer in terms of quality and power consumption“, says Slot.
Even the furniture has been designed to be produced sustainably. The wood for the desks has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a trademark for sustainable forestry in Germany. Natural products are used for the walls and ceiling; the flooring is recycled PVC.
The bottom line is that a sustainable OB van consumes 30% less electricity. “That’s saving money for our clients”, says Dimitri Traas, summing up the benefits. “If everybody built a sustainable OB van, we would have a much greener broadcasting environment.”
The original version of this article was published in the 2015 edition of Green Film Shooting here.