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The drive towards green AV solutions

The drive towards green AV solutions

Nov 3, 2014

By Stefan Mayer, Managing director, Corporate AV Integration

Companies around the world are coming under growing pressure to become more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly in the way they run their businesses. With energy costs rising, it’s not just about doing the morally right thing. Greenness can also save businesses lots of money.

South Africa is moving in sync with the green trend emerging around the world. For example, South African government recently unveiled a new green building for the Department of Environmental Affairs. It uses solar power, rainwater, and a range of other technologies and design elements to save resources.

Corporate audio-visual (AV) integrators and vendors are also being called upon to help companies meet the demands of standards such as The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – an international metric for “green” buildings. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating AV solutions:

Product design
AV systems are generally greedy electricity guzzlers. Some manufacturers have taken steps to make their products more energy efficient. Energy Star and TCO certified products are starting to enter the corporate AV market, but are not yet commonplace.

Ask questions about power consumption of any screens, projectors and other gear that you buy. Also consider power management features in the products you evaluate – a truly green AV product is energy efficient while in use, and can be configured to switch off or go into standby when it’s being used.

These systems are not cheap, but the upfront investment translates into lower costs in the future. Once they’re in place, such systems help to drive cost savings through power efficiency and reduced wastage.

Manufacturing process
Responsible manufacturers conform to environmental standards such as ISO 14001 and 14066. They use efficient supply chain partners and are striving towards environmental sustainability into their own businesses.

Your building ecosystem
Today, it’s not enough to offer solutions such as dimming lights and automatically turning off a screen or a projector. Instead, the AV industry needs to embrace a future where AV and environmental systems are tightly integrated. These systems should be able to intelligently communicate with each other and react to varying conditions to optimise energy and cost savings.

To this end, AV vendors such as Crestron and AMX have developed solutions that use algorithms to adjust devices in response to variables such as natural light, temperature, time of day, occupancy, and room usage. For example, a projector and the air conditioner in a meeting room could be primed to turn on 10 minutes ahead of a scheduled meeting. Companies could install motion sensors that activate air conditioning and lights when someone is in the room and deactivate them when there’s no one there.

Blinds could be integrated into building management and configured to adjust in response to the position of the sun. This can allow companies to warm and light rooms with the sun, achieving further savings on air conditioning and lighting.

Disposal of obsolete equipment
Planning the lifecycle of an AV solution is an important element of the green strategy. It’s important to find ways to dispose of obsolete equipment in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, one could donate an old system to a school. Failing that, it could be sent to an e-waste specialist for recycling.

Closing words
Because AV equipment consumes a lot of energy and is often built from toxic materials, it can contribute significantly to an organisation’s carbon footprint. There are a number of ways that you can manage the challenge of energy efficiency, provided you choose your suppliers wisely and manage your AV infrastructure in an optimal manner.

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