Starring role for solar-powered Bristol studio in new film industry sustainability scheme

May 12, 2023

Bristol film studio TBY2 has become one of the first in the UK to be awarded a new industry sustainability standard.

The £12m film and TV production facility, which opened last autumn as an expansion of the city’s highly successful Bottle Yard studio complex, was the second-highest scorer of the 12 participants in the first cohort for the new Studio Sustainability Standard. 

Launched last year by BAFTA albert, the UK’s industry organisation for environmental sustainability in TV in film, and global engineering and consulting firm Arup, the global, voluntary scheme helps studios measure and reduce the environmental impact of their facilities.

All those taking part commit to making year-on-year improvements to their sustainability going forward.

TBY2, less than half a mile from the main Bottle Yard site in Hengrove, is one of five studios to receive a ‘very good’ rating, the highest grade achieved in the group.

The sustainably designed TBY2 is powered by a 1MWp rooftop solar array – believed to be the largest community-owned scheme of its kind in the UK and the biggest rooftop PV system in the UK studios sector. 

Consisting of more than 2,300 panels, it was part-funded by community-owned enterprise Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) and is capable of generating enough energy to power more than 250 average households per year.

Bristol City Council, which owns and runs The Bottle Yard and TBY2, initially planned to install a 283kWp solar array, but thanks to funding from BEC, the final array, pictured below, was three times larger.

TBY2’s three state-of-the-art sound stages are accompanied by more than 40,000 sq ft of ancillary space with production offices, prop stores, costume/makeup and break out areas, amounting to around 82,000 sq ft of converted floor space in total.

As well as the rooftop solar array, its sustainable features include a sophisticated building management system that controls built-in heating, cooling and ventilation in all stages while optimising energy conservation. 

Energy produced at TBY2 will power the facility with surplus energy over time used through Bristol’s City Leap ‘sleeved pool’ electricity supply model, which connects buildings and ‘sleeves’ energy generated from one to another, reducing energy consumption from non-renewables.

TBY2 is also nominated for a 2023 Global Production Award in the Sustainability Initiative category. Winners will be announced on 22 May at an awards ceremony at the Cannes Film Festival.

Bristol City Council senior film manager Laura Aviles said: “We’re extremely proud that The Bottle Yard’s TBY2 facility has received its Studio Sustainability Standard rating.

“Coming second in class is also very rewarding considering the high calibre of participants.

“By placing sustainability at the heart of our expansion and working with Bristol Energy Cooperative and Bristol Council’s Energy Services team, we were able to achieve our ambitious vision of a state-of-the-art, solar-powered studio.

“The exciting thing about the community ownership model is that it is entirely replicable and brings direct benefits to the local area as well as our production clients. We hope TBY2 will inspire other projects and will be happy to share knowledge with others in the UK film industry and beyond.”

BAFTA albert director Carys Taylor added: “The expertise and quality of UK studios make them among the most in-demand in the world. Now, as participants in the albert Studio Sustainability Standard, they’re on a path to being the most sustainable in the world too.

“The release of the new Studio Sustainability Standard ratings badges will allow studios to show off the progress they’ve already made and benchmark the progress yet to come. And productions will know where to go to get support for their own sustainability missions.”

Bristol City Council Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy, Cllr Kye Dudd, said: “Receiving this standard is a great accolade for the new TBY2 facility.

“The rating is a major endorsement of the journey we are on to deliver Bristol’s 2030 carbon neutral ambition and the approach we are taking to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies in partnership with the community.”

The original Bottle Yard Studios opened in 2010 on the site of a disused wine warehouse.

The largest dedicated film and television production facility in the West of England, it has also become a major hub for the burgeoning industry, with more than 20 specialist companies ranging from prop and costume suppliers to chauffeuring businesses.

Productions recently filmed there include BBC/Amazon psychological thriller Chloe, series one and two of Stephen Merchant’s BBC/Amazon series The Outlaws and BBC One legal drama Showtrial, along with Rain Dogs (BBC/HBO), The Flatshare (Paramount+), and Am I Being Unreasonable? (BBC),

Previous productions have ranged from Hellboy to Poldark and The Crystal Maze to Andy’s Safari Adventures.

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