STEP Explained, Part 1: Initial Planning/Program Phase By Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED AP In March of 2010 the InfoComm Board of Directors approved the creation of the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEPSM) Rating System. Soon after, a task force was formed to develop the credits within STEP. This article is the first of a five-part series outlining the five phases of a STEP project. This month’s article focuses on the initial planning/program phase. ****************** When the InfoComm AV Sustainability Rating System Task Force first met to craft STEP’s framework, we began with the idea of taking everything we already do on a project and doing it greener. We also saw the need to add green tasks to our design, integration and operational processes that we should have been doing all along had we been energy-aware, waste-conscious, and resource-conservation minded. The goal of STEP is to deploy AV solutions that reduce our clients’ energy consumption, travel and waste while also greening the design and integration process along the way. However, rather than simply awarding points by hitting certain energy- or waste-reduction targets, STEP outlines the process to achieve these goals in a phase-by-phase manner, providing the design and integration teams with a methodology to navigate these new sustainability terrains. Earlier this year, InfoComm published its second ANSI standard, ANSI/INFOCOMM 2M-2010 Standard Guide for Audiovisual Systems Design and Coordination Processes, which we used as a backdrop for our approach to STEP. The first phase of a proper AV design process, as outlined in the standard, is the planning/program phase, so STEP defines how to approach the program phase from the lens of sustainability. The credits in STEP’s program phase are as follows: Credit P1: Establish/verify a STEP plan. One of the exciting aspects of STEP is the creation of a new profession in our industry, that of the STEP administrator, and the emboldening of another, that of the integrated-building technology project manager. In credit P1 the STEP administrator –who could be the AV designer/consultant, integrator, software developer, or an independent STEP consultant who oversees and manages the STEP process — kicks off the project by holding a STEP charrette, which is similar to a LEED charrette for those familiar with how LEED projects begin, wherein the sustainability goals for the project are outlined and the STEP credits to be attempted are indentified. Attendees to this charrette would include all members of the technology team (owner’s key stakeholders, designer/consultant, integrator, key manufacturers, etc.) who are identified at that stage of the project. At this meeting roles of responsibility are assigned for each credit to be attempted. Throughout the course of the project the STEP administrator manages the STEP process to ensure that all parties are doing their part as outlined in the checklist. Credit P2: Establish a paperless delivery process. Under the heading of “greening the process,” the task force wanted to incentivize processes that reduce waste throughout design and integration. In the architecture and construction industries, a great deal of paper is used to create reports, check sets, and the multiple copies of drawings and specifications that often sit rolled up in the corner of some office until they find their way to a dumpster. This credit rewards the creation of a paperless delivery process where electronic documents can be shared more widely across the project team with people only printing what they need for field-coordination purposes. Credit P3: Identify applicable sustainability requirements, programs, and products for the project. To prevent the technology team from flying blind of sustainability opportunities specific to the project, this credit awards points for the STEP administrator researching applicable federal, state and local government sustainability laws, regulations and directives, and government or industry incentives to the owner, and communicating them to the technology team prior to the commencement of any design efforts. Credit P4: Undertake a needs assessment process and publish a program report. Creating a comprehensive AV program report is already a best practice in the AV industry. The task force believes creating a clear program statement pertaining to the specific functional goals of the project can also be a green best practice in that systems can be designed to meet a clear program requirement versus being designed from a cookie-cutter approach to encompass functional requirements not requested by the owner, the result of which can be system bloat, unnecessary energy consumption, and waste. Credit P5: Provide five-year energy use/cost projections with program report and identify strategies to minimize ongoing energy consumption. Now we get to our first real game changer. Program reports typically include budgets pertaining to technology system first costs, but historically few program reports have truly dealt with life-cycle costs such as the energy to run those systems over, say, a five-year useful life. This credit awards points for calculating the anticipated AV system energy cost but also for identifying strategies such as the use of motion sensors and schedulers to shut off systems or the integration of control systems into building management to lower the overall energy consumption of the system and offset AV energy consumption through savings in other building systems, such as lighting and HVAC. Credit P6: Identify opportunities to use reclaimed equipment in the system design. E-waste is becoming a serious problem in this age of electronics. A sustainable approach to AV would maximize opportunities to reduce e-waste whenever and wherever practical. In the program phase, the designer/consultant would earn points for identifying equipment that could be reused in the new design. Where existing equipment is not reused, the designer would highlight the justifications for not reusing equipment. Credit P7: Identify end-of-life options/programs for all new and existing equipment. Knowing that in a renovation or relocation project, not all existing equipment should be reused, points are earned in credit P7 for identifying end-of-life options for old equipment, as well as new equipment when it reaches the end of its useful life. These options could include specifying equipment from manufacturers with take-back programs or identifying potential integrator programs for electronics recycling. Credit P8: Identify opportunities to interface and integrate building systems and enterprise software. STEP awards many points throughout the process for integrating building technologies to promote a smart and green facility for the owner. This credit awards points for identifying opportunities for the building systems to share sensor information, user interfaces and network resources to lower installation costs through an integrated systems design. Credit P9: Discern the project capability requirements to include the integration of a scheduling system with the other building technology. Building upon Credit P8, P9 awards a point for identifying strategies to track the physical location of people throughout a building to achieve the highest level of efficiency for energy-consuming building systems. To achieve this credit, the project team needs to document how the scheduling application will be leveraged to improve room utilization, reduce energy consumption, improve the end-user experience and utilize scheduling touch panels, if applicable. Credit P10: Identify an integrated-building technology manager on the project team and create an integrated building technology design brief. Credit P10 recognizes that integrated, intelligent, efficient buildings are more likely to be achieved if someone is hired to manage the technology integration process across the many disparate technology trades within the building. Points are awarded for the owner hiring an integrated-building technology (IBT) project manager to oversee this process. This new role could be filled by a seasoned AV industry veteran with knowledge of AV, IT, security and building automation technologies. Credit P AV1: Capture/review data on owner’s current annual travel metrics; present findings in report. With credit P AV1 you will recognize a difference in the credit number designation. Why the “AV” descriptor? Well, as the task force was outlining STEP, we had in mind the broader goal of building STEP’s framework to fit any low-voltage building technology deployment, not just AV deployments. In indentifying the 67 credits currently in STEP, we realized that roughly 80 percent of them could be applied to any building technology. Credit P AV1 is the only AV specific credit in program phase. For projects where videoconferencing or rich-media capture play a role, this credit tasks the owner, with help from the designer or perhaps a videoconferencing manufacturer, with gathering the owner’s “before” travel metrics. One of the goals of STEP is to move the conversation from hardware specs or end-of-the-year “specials” to return-on-investment calculations. To make a valid ROI assessment, current travel metrics must be gathered to determine realistic travel-offset potential from a new deployment. ************** STEP is a new way of doing business and offers new opportunities for smart technology companies to differentiate themselves in an increasingly commoditized market. By delivering greater value to our customers, we should be able to increase revenues and profit margins while simultaneously reducing our clients’ long-term total costs of ownership. AV providers will be challenged to create the new templates and deliverables STEP will require, but once we build our processes around STEP, the upside for all parties will increase. Is your company ready to take that STEP? 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 email@example.com
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Incommunicado: A Nasty Epidemic By Midori Connolly As the sustainability movement has matured, a troubling behavior has swept across industries faster than the snorting fury of the H1N1 flu. This unique virus has rendered companies frozen with inactivity when it comes to the communication of their sustainable practices. The nasty situation is comprised of the loudmouth greenwashing, the brazen green fatigue, and the ugly and silent (yes, haha) cousin of greenmuting. Probably the most well-known communications blunder is greenwashing. If you’re not familiar, you need to read the Seven Sins of Greenwashing, brought to you by the brilliant people at Terrachoice Marketing. But, basically, greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. It ranges from outright lies to the claims of being green for doing something that is already required by law (e.g., no CFCs). Another distant cousin that presents a challenge to organizations is green fatigue – the perception that people just aren’t interested in green anymore because it was a fad. Finally, like the tickle of a chronic cough, there is the annoying persistence of greenmuting that seems to permeate the AV industry more than anything else. Greenmuting is simply not talking about environmental efforts being made within an organization. In last month’s column, I singled out a prime example of the situation of greenmuting. As impressive as the company’s environmental efforts have been, there is a frustrating lack of information available to the interested consumer. But, it was unfair of me to point out only one organization. As a business owner responsible for the procurement of audiovisual equipment, I frequently have to deal with this issue. For a recent event of ours, of 19 manufacturers represented, I could only find seven that had made any kind of public statement on their environmental policies. And that is with an extensive focus on buying from environmentally conscious companies! But the onus doesn’t lie just with our manufacturers. We — rental and staging companies, integrators, installers, designers, consultants… all AV professionals — have a responsibility to take stock of how we operate as well. You see, if we establish our own culture of sustainability, then we will begin to systematically focus on how to best achieve energy efficiency or discover which products would be of most benefit to our or our clients’ green goals. This is how to transform an industry, with the creation of a culture. Next month I’ll provide you with some concrete steps that you can take to battle these communication ills and begin to generate your own green culture — whether you are brand new to sustainability or a veteran of the movement. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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NEC’s New M Series Uses Less Than One Watt in Standby Last month, NEC announced the new M Series projectors, including the NP-M260X, NP-M260W and NP-M300X. These models were developed to address the needs of schools on a tight budget that require a bright, wired network projector with remote monitoring and control capabilities. The model transitions include the NP-M260X replacing the NP410, NP-M260W replacing the NP410W and NP-M300X replacing the NP510. All three XGA (1024×768), eco-friendly, portable projectors are what NEC calls “value-driven” and feature wired and wireless (optional) networking, HDMI and USB inputs, high contrast (2000:1) and up to 6000 hours of lamp life (in ECO Mode). The M Series was created with the environment in mind and includes a carbon savings meter, energy-saving features such as Power Save (<1-watt in standby mode), quick startup and direct power off. For complete specs, go here: http://www.necdisplay.com/Products/Series/?series=09c60e0b-879f-4d69-9b08-3f2a6b92ba84
AV Sustainability Task Force Continues Work on STEP The AV Sustainability Task Force members met face-to-face in Chicago on September 13-14 to continue their work on STEP. The group reviewed the entire rating system and made several modifications to both headings and descriptions. The task force also began preparation of the STEP reference guide, which will accompany the rating system and will be released in January 2011. For more information on the program and participants, please visit http://www.infocomm.org/STEP
Arrive Corporation’s RoomPoint Aims for Green Control Saying the RoomPoint draws “ZERO WATTS of power on Standby,” Arrive Corporation claims that its forthcoming RoomPoint media processor is the most energy efficient on the market. RoomPoint is a basically a control system, system switcher and power conditioner in one cube-like box that includes matrix switching and control from one hub. Included with the company’s 4×4 Display Port switcher, 4×4 VGA switcher, 4×4 HDMI switcher, 4×4 DVI switcher, 8×8 USB and 8×8 stereo audio switcher, 8 RS 232 ports and 8 IP control ports, Arrive aims to make this a room hub for all AV. In addition, they’ve added eight AC switched and controlled power ports, four DC (+12 volt) ports, two DC (+5 volt) ports and redundant power supplies – all, they claim, draw zero watts of power in standby. Compatible with Crestron, Extron and AMX control systems, Arrive told rAVe the RoomPoint is 100 percent recyclable and uses no fans for cooling. Interested in all the specs? Go here: http://www.arrivecorp.com/arrive-infoport.htm
|Extron’s PS Series Desktop Power Supplies Also Earn UL EEC In addition to being the first U.S. Manufacturer to earn the Energy Efficiency Certification – EEC by UL Environment, a wholly owned subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories, with its XPA Series of Audio Amplifiers, Extron also received the EEC qualification for the company’s PS Series of desktop power supplies. The PS Series, designed as a universal desktop power supply for nearly all of Extron’s 9-volt, 12-volt and 15-volt products using external supplies, has a demonstrated MTBF of over one million hours. For complete details on the PS line, go here: http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=extpowsupplies Here’s a video UL produced to explain the EEC qualification: http://www.ulenvironment.com/ulenvironment/eng/pages/env/about/|
Sony’s KDL HDTVs Earn UL EEC Sony’s KDL Series of Bravia HDTVs recently earned EEC certification from UL. With sizes from 32” to 55”, the KDL series are LED backlit 1080p native LCD flat panel HDTVs. They are less than 3” in depth and stream content from the Internet. Sony’s KDL Series represent the first high-end HDTV consumer TVs to be granted EEC and follow Extron’s lead as the second AV manufacturer to have gear to be qualified and verified to meet the UL-EEC standards for energy. You can see the entire KDL Series here.
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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