Film: Sunset Gower gets an eco facelift

Studio's plans include electric vehicles, recycling

At Sunset Gower Studios, going green starts with the little things.

The 86-year-old studio — formerly headquarters for Columbia Pictures and filming location for films like “It Happened One Night” and “From Here to Eternity” — began a major renovation and expansion process after it was purchased by GI Partners in 2004, and seeks to refashion itself as a preeminent green facility in the process.

(Commercial real estate firm Hudson Capital announced it was buying the property from GI Partners at the beginning of July, though there’s no indication that this will disrupt operations.)

As for the greening process itself, the refurbishment involves a number of big-ticket items, such as electric vehicles, stepped-up recycling proceedures and plans to build solar panels above the parking lot. But smaller changes, from clean janitorial and office supplies to paints and appliances, are equally vital. For these changes to make a difference, visiting productions will have to pledge their support as well.

“When people are concerned about environmental measures, the concern usually comes down to either cost or ease,” says Janet Viscome, Sunset Gower’s vice president of studio services. In order to reassure onsite productions that they will have no extra hassles or costs to contend with, the studio is in the process of compiling a list of eco-friendly vendors, products and procedures to distribute to tenants.

As for ensuring the studio’s tenants maintain those standards, that’s a more difficult matter. Viscome says they have considered levying fines for particularly egregious violations, but CEO Robert Papazian doubts such means will be necessary.

“It’s like anything else,” he says. “Once there’s a system in place, no one really has to think about it.”

Sunset Gower hopes to gain an EMA green seal certification when the refurbishment is complete.

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