Sustainable Technology: Communications

May 1, 2008

Green AV

By Randal A. Lemke, PhD

As more of society embraces the green movement at home, people are seeking buildings, workplaces, and public spaces that mirror this environmental ethos. At the same time, digital signage increasingly appears in retail spaces, lobbies, and on the outside of office buildings. Projectors, HD displays, screens, and videoconferencing equipment populate board rooms. How can these seemingly conflicting desires be reconciled?

The green AV movement is under way. In large part, this is because those who design buildings and manage facilities need to minimize the energy used by equipment and limit the environmental impact on those who use these spaces.

There are ways audiovisual equipment can be used to boost the environmental friendliness of a facility. A control system allowing a centralized and automated audiovisual system to be integrated into a building management system can be a source of energy savings. In addition to managing lights, shades, and HVAC, AV room scheduling software can be used so energy is not wasted heating and cooling rooms that are not in use.

High definition and LCD screens are more energy efficient than CRTs. The cumulative effect of having more HD and LCD displays is significant. The higher efficiency of these technologies results in a lower heat load. This means smaller HVAC equipment is needed, resulting in less power usage and smaller physical plant areas. Solar and room darkening shades can also provide significant energy savings.

AV can also be used as an alternative to transportation. Distance learning, telepresence, and videoconferencing provide an alternative to travel and reduce the carbon footprint of an organization. Having adequate AV in classrooms and training facilities locally encourages students to learn closer to home, bypassing the need for longer commutes and out-of-town travel.

Alternatives to traditional materials can also help make AV greener. Recycled denim can be used in place of fiber glass when creating acoustical batting. Use of recovered materials in manufacturing, such as heavy metals like gold and lead, is becoming more common. Documentation of the recycled content of these products in the future may be made increasingly available to AV system designers and architects for preferential specification in LEED® projects.

Of course, one of the easiest ways to keep AV green is to properly install equipment and make sure energy is not being wasted with the AV system. In the future, AV manufacturers may move toward benchmarking standby and maximum power consumption in order to help designers and architects achieve LEED points.

The AV industry has been joining architects and building professionals in helping address green issues. Several AV manufacturers and AV design firms have staff who have earned the LEED Accredited Professional® credential. InfoComm also partnered with ARCHI-TECH to add green preference points to the AV Awards program.

To ensure the industry is attuned to the environmental concerns of architects, the building industry, government officials, and the public, InfoComm is developing a green AV curriculum. This program will debut at InfoComm 08 in Las Vegas (see "InfoComm Preview"). Throughout the year, InfoComm will release additional resource materials for the AV industry and architects addressing green AV. Later this year InfoComm and ARCHI-TECH will collaborate on a green AV webinar to ensure that both communities have an understanding of how to work together and know which environmental goals are achievable through AV.

I hope you will join us in Las Vegas as we debut this important program.

Randal Lemke ([email protected]) is the executive director of InfoComm International.

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