published at 25.04.2014, 13:42
Urban Mobility

Green Me and Green You

Ecological pioneer Nic Niemann on sustainability and the BMW C evolution

The Green Me Film Festival takes place as part of the Berlin International Film Festival every year and connects the love for film with the love for the environment. It was started by Nic Niemann in 2008 to provide an opportunity to brighten the awareness for environmental issues through films and has since developed to include its own international competition for the best green films, as well as script funding, where the winners receive up to 5000 euros and the Green Me award. As a passionate advocate of sustainability and an early adopter of electro-mobility, Nic was keen to try a BMW C evolution e-scooter. He shares his findings in this exclusive interview with BMW Motorrad.

Since you initiated the first Green Me film festival seven years ago, it has become a firm fixture in the Berlinale calendar. What originally motivated you to bring the Green Me to life?

It was actually two things: first of all, we wanted to do something positive for the children, who will inherit the environment we leave. Secondly, we had a large community of NGOs who contacted us and said they wanted to do something together.

Green Me is also a film production company. What topics deserve special focus in your movies?

We had a film development prize at the festival for four years and a script development prize, which attracted over 250 scripts. Several movies have been made from the prize-winning scripts. There is a movie about the founder of Greenpeace, there are several TV programmes being created for German television and international co-productions as well. The company is busy shooting video films, commercials and developing feature films as well.

Film productions are generally not known for being neutral as far as CO2 footprints are concerned. How do you succeed in producing movies or festivals in a sustainable way?

It is easily done because of our network. For example we have a German power supplier doing the carbon footprint equalisation, so we do not have to worry about it. Of course we are careful not to use too much power, but we have partners who make sure that everything runs in balance with our environment. So, just like people do in their private lives, we are also aware of our responsible use of resources on all levels. For example, we made sure that the wood used in the picture frames for our awards was sourced from ecologically fair-traded woods. Also, we had a very beautiful situation this year for our green carpet. We found somebody who had a woollen hand-crafted green carpet for us to use, which all the festival visitors and gala guests walked on. After the festival the owner told us he was going to put it in a wool washer and then reuse it. So we learn from all our partners how to do things better.

From a financial point of view, would you recommend sustainable working methods to other production and event companies?

Definitely! I am involved with the development of a film school in the south of Berlin, and they are teaching this in their classes. They found out that the Empire State Building underwent a renovation and saved 250 million dollars by doing it ecologically. Of course after that you need less power to run the building so you save even more dollars every month. It's the same for us in the film making world: if you focus in reusing and optimising then you notice that the financial and ecological benefits basically go hand in hand. The situation in Berlin for power suppliers has also changed, the cheapest power supplier is now a green power supplier and not the one working with nuclear power.

To what extent is the urgency that world populations need to change to alternative energy methods?

The most descriptive picture we had this year at our festival were the melting glaciers at the North Pole. The scientists told us that if these keep melting we simply will not have the North Pole anymore. Of course, cities like Hamburg will have a problem if the North Pole melts. Making a change is a personal decision everybody has to take and we do not want our Festival to dictate to people, but at the same time we want to say “hey if you want to know more, come and see us!”

You had already ridden an e-scooter in the past. How was the experience?

It was very beautiful as you can talk to your passenger because there is no noise, not to mention engine vibrations while waiting at the traffic lights.

How can you describe the transition to gasoline-free driving?

For me it was fascinating. I was able to charge my vehicle at my office and suddenly I did not need a gas station anymore, although I missed buying chocolate there! One of our partners specialised in inductive charging and put a rubber device in front of our house. So we just needed to place the scooter in front of our house and it would automatically charge like a toothbrush. That was fantastic and it saved me a lot of time.

How do you feel about the current C evolution in comparison to this e-scooter you first rode six years ago?

Of course the speed, the reliability and the safety features have completely changed. In the early days there were many suppliers from China having completely different regulations about safety – also the electricity was very dangerous. The way the BMW e-scooter is constructed is very safe because everything is enclosed in a huge box. I remember when the hybrid system was introduced in Formula 1 cars and the drivers would always climb up their cars so as not to have one foot on the ground in case of electric shock! I think these days are over now, thankfully.

What do you like the best about the C evolution?

You can just ride and enjoy and have a good time with a vehicle that is fit for urban society and big cities. You are able to move about and park easily and you are free spirited about the way you move.

How do you think urban mobility is going to develop in the future?
I think we're going to see more electric power because once people have tried these vehicles they do not want the sounds or the smells back. If I imagine that the roads around my home will be only used by electric vehicles, then this would be a very beautiful situation.

Do you ride an electric vehicle now?

I still have my own prototype, it is a Vespa that we converted to electric power. It is still running and does not have any problems.

How do you compare the silent ride of a C evolution with that of a regular scooter?

Well I think this is mostly an emotional thing, because technically they are similar. Of course you have similar acceleration and you do not have to change gears but still you have an effortlessness about the C evolution which is very specific.

Thank you Nic.

Interviewer: Sophie Adell