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August 2014
Issue: January 1, 2009

GOING GREEN

By: Marc Loftus
It's one thing to say you're "going green," but it's another to actually do it. Mark Decena, director at San Francisco's Kontent Films, is doing it. And his efforts go beyond typical recycling initiatives.

Decena regularly works on commercials and independent films, and is using his expertise to help raise social awareness by collaborating with clients that share similar beliefs. Clients such as the Rainforest Action Network, Lenders for Community Development, Avaaz.org, E2 PBS, Urban Revision and the US Green Building Council. His skills at visual storytelling and working with modest budgets help to make these projects engaging and ensure that messages are effectively communicated. 

For the PBS series E2, The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious, Decena wrote narration for 18 episodes, as well as directed an episode that looks at the success of responsible land planning in Oregon. "This project really opened my eyes," he says. "It 'activated' me."

Last fall, Decena wrote, directed and co-produced eight Web documentaries for the 15th anniversary of the US Green Building Council. The project involved shooting interviews of the founders of the green building movement and the final cuts detail the successes and work that still needs to be done in this area.

In-house, the Kontent team has instituted a number of efforts. Decena pays employees to take public transportation, and encourages them to ride their bikes; he's been doing this for years. Office supplies are recyclable and plastic bottles have been replaced with reusable steel and glass. And traditional light bulbs have been replaced with bulbs that are predominantly Energy Star CFL. In 2009, Kontent will increase their use of non-toxic cleaning supplies. "It is a very hard thing to do," he says of going green. "We are making efforts, but we're not completely green."

So how do his employees feel?

"I try to lead by example. I would love to get to a point where the whole industry has changed. I realize that I'm the one who's become the activist and I am respectful of people and change that has to happen gradually for some. But for me, there's no turning back."