I Fought the LEED and the LEED Won Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED AP If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then surely the key to overcoming insanity is knowing when to quit… and go in a different direction. So, I quit. What am I quitting? I’m quitting LEED. Let me explain. In 2006, I awoke from a long slumber to realize our industry’s future success lay in harnessing the skills and abilities we already possess to join — and hopefully propel — the green building movement. At that time there was no doubt in my mind that our path to this future could be found in LEED, the wildly popular green building rating system created by the U.S. Green Building Council. I saw within my own company’s project portfolio that the vast majority of our clients were pursuing LEED certification for their new facilities. However, there was little the AV industry could add to the conversation; we were simply not represented in any way within LEED. So, it was time to get busy or get forgotten. Waveguide, along with many others, did the classic “getting on board” phase thing: we joined USGBC; we earned our LEED APs; we attended GreenBuild, USGBC’s rapidly growing tradeshow; we attended local USGBC events; and we networked with like-minded professionals in the design and construction industry. Then in 2008, through our trade association InfoComm, we began petitioning USGBC directly by proposing a new videoconference credit for LEED Version 3 (they never read it). We formed the Green Building Technology Alliance (GBTA) with InfoComm, BICSI, CABA and TIA to pursue building-technology centric innovation credits within LEED so our members could begin to offer some tangible value to their clients on LEED projects (we struck out completely). And we offered to pilot technology credits under LEED’s new pilot program (not only did they ignore us, USGBC created a pilot credit around eliminating PVC/vinyl and other halogenated materials from LEED buildings for which they received and dismissed more than 3,000 letters of protest, many coming from those involved with electrical and data cabling industries where PVC jacketing is widely used). The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the rejection of a videoconference innovation credit on my own company’s headquarters LEED Commercial Interiors (CI) project. Recognizing how difficult it is for an AV professional to propose an AV innovation credit on a LEED project, I decided to pursue LEED certification for my own company’s move to a new office in 2008. Sure, I wanted a green facility for my employees to work in, and I was proud to follow the sage advice embedded in LEED for things like where we located the office, how we harvested daylight and outside views for everyone, and how we could improve air quality with low-VOC finishes. But my main goal was to once and for all earn an AV innovation credit so that I could tell all you guys how to go and do the same. Let’s storm the Bastille, I said. We threw everything and the kitchen sink at this credit: We designed two purpose-built, high-definition videoconference rooms in our headquarters to the best practices of our industry, per the AV Design Reference Manual published jointly by InfoComm and BICSI. We rolled out HD videoconferencing to all of our remote offices to cut down on internal travel. We made our VTC rooms available to any client free of charge. We offered fee discounts on proposals where we could replace out-of-town travel for project meetings with virtual meetings via videoconferencing, which we would host. And lastly, we tracked over a 12-month period every trip we eliminated and replaced with videoconferencing so we could calculate the carbon offset from this initiative. It added up to more than 120,000 miles of air travel avoided, representing 55,000 lbs. of carbon emissions saved. The Green Building Certification Institute, the independent body that now certifies LEED projects, sent us a curtly-worded rejection of this credit with the explanation that videoconferencing had become too commonplace, and thus we did nothing extraordinary. Really? Companies of less than 50 people routinely go to this length to reduce their travel through videoconferencing whereas bicycle racks — for which you can earn a credit — are somehow more exotic and… dare I say, extraordinary? Are you kidding me? What really got under my skin, though, was that the GBCI reviewer rejected our credit without any data regarding videoconference penetration into small businesses. However, we couldn’t exactly argue back because, though I called everyone I could think of (Cisco, Tandberg, Polycom, Wainhouse Research and others), no one seems to know what the penetration rate of videoconferencing is among small businesses, or how many miles are currently offset, or could be offset, from videoconferencing. Yes, we could protest our credit rejection and pay $500 to tell the GBCI we think they are wrong, but with no data to support us, we know at this late stage of the game we’re just beating a dead camel with a broken back while he’s down. The GBTA agrees, and last week the GBTA voted to disband itself, knowing a lost cause (technology-based innovation credits) when we see one. So, I’m quitting LEED… for now. But I’m not quitting sustainability. Far from it. As many of you no doubt know by now, earlier this year InfoComm’s Board of Directors approved the creation of the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEPSM) rating system. STEP will be our response to LEED. It’s LEED for the rest of us. Over the coming months I will discuss STEP’s phases and credits in a fair amount of detail. So the journey continues. Epilogue: Upon hearing the news about our rejected videoconference credit, a friend in the industry chuckled and asked, “How you feeling about that LEED AP now?” I smiled and said, “Well, I doubt I’ll kill myself to earn the continuing education credits required to maintain my LEED AP.” However, upon reflection, I’m not bitter at all. Frustrated, yes. Bitter, no. The past several years were all necessary steps in getting us to STEP which, in my opinion, holds much more promise for our industry than a few innovation credits ever could. Stay tuned. Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED® AP, is president and CEO of Waveguide Consulting, a national AV, IT and acoustical consulting firm. Scott is a past president of InfoComm International, and he currently chairs InfoComm’s AV Sustainability Task Force, which is responsible for developing the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEPSM) rating system. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Green AV Winners… and Losers! By Midori Connolly If you missed last month’s debut of my brAVe New World column (tsk, tsk), I discussed a major obstacle to the green movement being the lack of information and depictions of positive outcomes for sustainable behavior. (Well, that and potty training… you might just want to check out the archives if you’re now properly intrigued.) As I emphasized, this column should be a place where we focus on the picture of what works in sustainable AV. It’s a lot less about lecture and lot more about possibilities and encouragement. Thus, I would like to examine what I consider the winners in Green AV. The first winner I have long placed on the medals stand is my poster child for sustainability, an organization exemplary for any industry, AV or not. I’m afraid that I’m going to pile on the praise for Christie. As you read in last month’s Green rAVe (ahem), this company was studying LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) and Cradle-to-Cradle theory long before the terms began showing up in our Google Readers. When I went to my first Infocomm show in 2006 (seven months pregnant, no less – now there’s a funny side story), this company was the only one talking about “green.” Hanging proudly above their booth was a beautiful banner inviting discussion on the company’s green products. In the following years, many conversations with Peter Pekurar uncovered the cool things they were doing, such as the compost bin in their break room. And that’s a hallmark of what is required for a culture of sustainability within a GreenAV company — ingrained methods of thinking and innovation that are standard operating procedure. This is the sign of an environmental winner. But I mentioned losers too, right? Could there be a chink in the recycled steel armor of our industry leader? At the presentation delivered by the inaugural GreenAV award winners at this year’s Infocomm, Christie positively floored us with their environmental achievements. Just the basic change in facility lighting alone had a massive reduction in energy consumption. Properly impressed, my natural question was, “Do you have a measurement of the business implications of these efforts?” The short answer was, “No.” And this is the crucial missing link that is all too often overlooked in environmental programs. In the new economy — whether it’s up, down or sideways — we absolutely must demonstrate returns for our eco initiatives. No matter how much we subscribe to the gospel of green and know it’s the right — or maybe even the only — thing to do, our green practices must be tied to business strategy. The first step must be to set goals relevant to overarching corporate goals, then the impact must be measured and, finally, results assessed in terms of returns to the organization. So, yes, Christie remains a winner. But for the next generation of sustainability programs, empirical support is vital for the survival and growth of this infantile movement. Assessment of returns must be the next step for the many sustainability standards and guidelines currently being released. Join me next month as I name a loser and we study together how and why they may or may not be green challenged. Midori Connolly is CEO and Chief AVGirl of Pulse Staging & Events, Inc. in Escondido, California. She wrote the first-ever set of Sustainable Staging guidelines after discovering none existed. She is the vice-chair of the AV committee for the U.S. EPA’s Green Meetings Standards and regularly speaks and writes about corporate social responsibility and green practices in live events and meeting planning. Reach her at email@example.com
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What Can You Do to Go Green Now? By Gary Kayye, CTS As the GreenAV movement is under construction, there aren’t many GreenAV products, to be perfectly honest. You can search and search, but they’re coming slowly. The good news is they’re also coming more profitably. And, integrators are reporting to us that in the majority of their bids, when they specify GreenAV side-by-side with old AV, the Green stuff is winning more than losing. So, step one for you is to SPECIFY GreenAV products. We’ve already reported on almost a dozen of them in just the first two issues of rAVe GreenAV – check here to bookmark our archives and read over Issue 1: http://www.ravepro.com/green/ But there’s still more you can do! Here’s a guide to what you can do now in specifying AV systems to be MORE GREEN!
- Use Smart Power: Our favorite is SurgeX (www.surgex.com) but whomever you use, you’d better be using power conditioning in EVERY RACK — and not just to save your AV gear from power surges and failures. Smart power is way, way more than that. Did you know that you can turn off unused AV gear that’s a huge power hog when you’re not using it? Think about the temperature of your DVRs, your CableTV boxes, your satellite receivers and your audio amps when you’re not using them. Where do you think that heat comes from? You go it: power = hot. Smart power conditioners can automatically (or via programming) turn off boxes that simply don’t need to run all weekend when you’re not at the office or during the day when you’re not at home. Not only will this save you money, but also it’ll make you greener!
- Get Educated on Green: The standards for GreenAV are being written right before your own eyes. Below, you’ll see a story on InfoComm’s Sustainable Technology Environment Program and they’re asking for YOU to provide input on what the GreenAV standards and practices should be. This is a landmark document that will leave an indelible impact on the AV market for decades! Don’t you want to be a part of it?
- Use GreenAV Stuff: Some of the GreenAV marketing coming from manufacturers right now might be hype, but most of it is better than nothing. In fact, statistically, clients are asking for green gear more than ever before. And, it’s only a matter of time before all government purchasing favors green over non-green stuff. It’ll happen. So, why not lead with GreenAV? Again, make sure you’re tracking everything we’re writing about in the world of GreenAV and you’re doing your part by selling green — and making more money in the process.
Update: InfoComm’s Sustainable Technology Environment Program (STEP) Infocomm says their AV Sustainability Rating System Task Force continues to make great strides in developing the Sustainable Technology Environment Program (STEP) rating system. This is intended to eventually be a set of benchmarks that could be applied to the technology aspects of a building. It is modeled after, and complementary to, the LEED rating system. Where the LEED system addresses the construction and infrastructure aspects of the building, the STEP system addresses the low-voltage systems (AV and IP). But, they NEED our help — the help of the industry. The STEP group is currently looking for feedback on the draft form. And, because they will meet face-to-face in Chicago on September 13-14 before entering the final phases of development, which will include a STEP reference guide that will accompany the rating system, they need your feedback NOW. Don’t wait until the standards benchmarks are already established to complain. Be a part of the process and participate by reading the draft proposal and providing InfoComm feedback. It’s simple, to request a copy of STEP in draft form email Rachel Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oculus — The World’s Only Green (Biodegradable) 3D Glasses Little known Cereplast out of El Segundo, California, has started shipping the world’s first 3D glasses that we’d consider Green – and as 3D gains in popularity in the home theater and even medical imaging markets, this is a sell-up opportunity for GreenAV. Although aimed at the cinema market where it’s estimated that over 10 million pairs of 3D glasses were shipped in summer 2010, the 3D glasses will make their way to the high-end home and corporate AV markets in 2011. Teaming up with Oculus3D to distribute them, Cereplast says the biodegradable plastic 3D glasses are made of proprietary plastic resins called Poly-lactic acid (PLA). These resins allow for the manufacturing of glasses made of renewable material and create a truly compostable product. If discarded at a compost site, the 3D glasses will return to nature in less than 180 days with no chemical residues or toxicity left in the soil. Here’s an interesting video from CNNMoney.com on the technology: http://money.cnn.com/video/fortune/2010/04/27/f_bsg_bioplastic_cereplast.fortune/
Leviton’s Green Products to Debut at CEDIA Using self-powered (no power from the grid required) technology, Leviton’s LevNet RF “wireless self-powered solutions” are actually easy to install and are fairly maintenance-free — making them GreenAV power products. Integrated with EnOcean technology that apparently allows energy harvesting, LevNet RF Transmitters can operate indefinitely without the use of batteries. The motion of a switch actuation, light on a solar cell, or temperature differentials in the environment provide power to LevNet RF Transmitters, allowing zero-maintenance wireless devices. The LevNet RF line includes multiple products that operate in the uncrowded 315MHz band, offering a transmission range of 50 to 150 feet, depending on the construction. Want to know more about EnOcean technology? Go to http://www.enocean.com/ Want to see the Leviton LevNet RF? Go to: LevNet RF Wireless Self-powered Solutions
Polycom Launches Green Assessment Service Called ‘Go Green’ During a Polycom Go Green Assessment, they say they’ll conduct a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s meeting and travel requirements, telework opportunities, and current collaborative tool usage. Polycom told us that upon completion of the assessment, you’ll receive a summary report that outlines your client’s current carbon footprint, and what impact their current collaboration technologies (if they have any) or “traditional travel” have on that footprint — essentially establishing a baseline for their (and your) GreenAV efforts. Of course, the report also recommends further ways to improve productivity and efficiency in your organization so you can help sell and integrate a long-term carbon savings – and, of course, sell Polycom technology! Quite honestly, this is an awesome service from Polycom and we expect all the high-end manufacturers to use this as a marketing tool to help you sell GreenAV gear in the future. No one can really justify an ROI on VTC versus travel as it’s never been the true equal alternative to “being there in person,” but if the clients you work with have a green concern or are moving towards sustainability in their future, this is a great start. Want to learn all about it? Go to: http://www.polycom.asia/services/professional_services/go_green.html
Da-Lite’s Screen Green Program The only ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification that currently addresses environmental issues pertaining to equipment in the AV market is the 14001:2004 certification. Da-Lite already has it and is actually a model for the rest of the GreenAV market. In the Warsaw, Indiana corporate headquarters, for example, the levels of VOCs were drastically reduced with the final implementation of a low-emission powder coating paint system. The company also launched the new Da-Lite Screen Green Exchange Program for recycling old screens replaced with new Da-Lite screens. You can read all about the program here: http://www.da-lite.com/downloads/ScreenGreenFlyer_revised.pdf And, Da-Lite has achieved GREENGUARD certification for the largest number of fabrics in the audiovisual industry, including the GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certification program. Here’s a comprehensive overview of their GREENGUARD certification — something no other screen company has achieved: http://www.da-lite.com/screengreen/GREENGUARD_8_21_08.pdf
Well, that’s it for this edition of rAVe GreenAV Edition! Thank you for spending time with us as we muse the industry’s happenings. To continue getting my newsletter, or to sign up a friend, click the link below. To send feedback, don’t reply to this newsletter – instead, write to Publisher Gary Kayye at email@example.com or Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at firstname.lastname@example.org A little about Gary Kayye, CTS, founder of rAVe and Kayye Consulting. Gary Kayye, an audiovisual veteran and columnist, began the widely-read KNews, a premier industry newsletter, in the late 1990s, and created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which later became InfoComm IQ. Kayye Consulting is a company that is committed to furthering the interests and success of dealers, manufacturers, and other companies within the professional audiovisual industry. rAVe Pro Edition launched in February 2003. rAVe Home Edition, co-sponsored by CEDIA, launched in February 2004. rAVe Rental [and Staging] launched in November 2007. rAVe Ed [Education] began publication in May 2008. rAVe DS [Digital Signage] launched in January 2009. This publication, rAVe GreenAV, was launched in August 2010. Subscribe to our newsletters! https://www.ravepubs.com To read more about my background, our staff, and what we do, go to https://www.ravepubs.com
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