Broadway Stages give film soundstages a green upgrade
When we think about green technology, things like cars and power plants come to mind before entertainment. But Broadway Stages is the first film and TV production company to build solar-powered stages. Not only is CEO Gina Argento a pioneer in a male-dominated field, she’s also on the forefront of green infrastructure and renewable energy in the world of soundstages. Gina Argento talked to Inhabitat about their innovations.
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Inhabitat: How did you get into the business of operating soundstages?
Argento: In 1983, my brother Tony Argento purchased a dilapidated movie theater on Broadway Street in Astoria, Queens and turned it into a soundstage. Numerous commercials and music videos were filmed at this namesake location, including legendary musical artists such as Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Will Smith and others.
The company expanded to Brooklyn where additional soundstages were built in Greenpoint, broadening from music videos to television and film production. I joined Broadway Stages after earning a master’s degree from St. John’s University. Today, our family-owned business boasts over 1.5 million square feet of integrated space with 60 soundstages, unique locations, support space, equipment services and parking throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
I serve as the president and CEO, overseeing the day-to-day operations and together with Tony, provide strategic business direction and client relations. Our stages have been home to hit films and shows such as “BlackKKlansman,” “Halston,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Fight,” “Billions,” “Godfather of Harlem,” “New Amsterdam” and “Harlem,” to name a few.
Inhabitat: When and how did you decide to go solar?
Argento: Broadway Stages’ commitment to the community – economically, socially and environmentally – dates back to the founding of Broadway Stages almost 40 years ago and is at the core of our business philosophy. We have always wanted to make a difference and getting into renewable energy was something that would help offset our environmental footprint.
Renewable energy and environmentally sustainable structures can be seen across the rooftops of our facilities in Brooklyn. As an early adopter and supporter of green roofs, Broadway has invested in more than 100,000 square feet of green infrastructure, including 50,000 square feet of solar arrays.
Our solar energy project was constructed in 2010. We teamed with Greenpoint Energy Partners and Brooklyn-based Solar Energy Systems to install and maintain 50,000 square feet of solar electric facilities on five of our soundstage buildings throughout Brooklyn. With a capacity of 1.6 MW, this project represents one of the largest combined solar arrays deployed on a private facility in New York, and the largest in the film and TV studio production industry. The solar panels have helped to offset approximately one third of our annual electricity consumption, improve air quality, increase reliability of the power grid during peak demand and create jobs.
Inhabitat: How many solar-powered soundstages do you have so far?
Argento: Currently, we have 50,000 square feet of solar electric facilities on five of our soundstage buildings throughout Greenpoint in Brooklyn. We are looking into the possibility of expanding our use of renewable energy sources solar at our other campus locations.