|The Thrill is Gone, But the Work Goes On By Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED AP OK, it’s time for a quick check on the whole environmental thing. Remember those heady days of 2007 and 2008 when the economy was humming right along (or so we thought), both U.S. presidential candidates were convinced that manmade climate change was a real and growing threat, and it seemed that most every TV or magazine ad was promoting the greenness of some product or service like bathroom cleaners, laptop computers and vacation resorts? The green wave was growing and influencing every aspect of our economy and society. Boy, that seems like a long time ago. I will never forget attending the keynote address at USGBC’s GreenBuild event in November 2008. If you’ve never been to GreenBuild, their keynote event could be best described as a revival with 10,000 of your closest, true-believer friends. Desmond Tutu was on stage marveling at how America could go straight from Bush to Obama and ruminating on what this tectonic plate shift could portend for the environmental movement in the U.S. and beyond. To me, it seemed the sky was the limit. My good friend, green AV compatriot and political reverse image, Tony Warner, who leads the AV group at RTKL, sat in the chair next to me doing deep breathing exercises. Poor fella. Then, in the months — and now years — that followed we all learned that our seemingly fundamentally sound (to paraphrase John McCain) economy was anything but as we entered the greatest recession of our lifetime. In our neck of the woods, the construction industry has been hammered. Many once-mighty architects who led the green-building charge in the mid-2000s now have that hollow look in their eyes from too many Fridays where the layoff reaper was rounding up friends into the “conference room of no return.” And, in what in my opinion was the biggest strategic mistake of the Obama administration to date, health care reform was put ahead of a comprehensive energy plan. When Obama writes his memoirs someday, I’ll be curious to see if this batting order was determined by a promise he made to the dying Ted Kennedy or the formidable Hilary Clinton, whose support Obama needed, or both. Nonetheless, as the health care debate dragged on and on in the U.S., environmentalists were seeing our best chance for a big plan on energy and environmental reform in the U.S. just fade away. Had the Obama administration put energy on the table first, I believe he could have easily gotten a few then-centrist Republicans (McCain, Graham, Snowe, Collins and others) to counter the few oil- and coal-state Democrats who might have supported a filibuster in the Senate. Plus, if constructed properly, a comprehensive energy bill could have been a jobs bill too, which is what we need most now. The House in 2009 would have been a cakewalk and, in fact, did pass a “cap-and-trade” bill. It just never made it through the Senate due to the never-ending donnybrook over health care reform. So here we are today in the U.S. with no real prospect for a sweeping national plan to cap carbon emissions, promote new energy research and subsidize the mass renovation of the millions of buildings in the U.S. in dire need of an energy-efficiency upgrade. These days, viable presidential candidates get throaty applause for questioning evolution and climate change. What’s next? The junk science that is photosynthesis? However, all is not lost and there are signs of hope on many fronts. Europe, despite its many problems, seems to be on a much steadier course toward a smarter energy future. This past December, President Obama signed into law with little fanfare an ambitious new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard that will raise U.S. fuel-economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Wal-Mart is quietly moving forward with its plan to become known as the greenest retailer on the planet. And this past Thursday, California actually passed a cap-and-trade law, which, interestingly, allows for the buying and selling of carbon credits across state lines so that, for instance, landfill operators in the Southeast who have been aggressively reducing their carbon footprints can sell their accumulated carbon credits to refineries in California for a profit. If and when this California-based carbon credit market takes off, might it spread across the country without our dysfunctional leaders in Washington having to do a thing? Now, what does all this political stuff have to do with us? Well, I think it would be a mistake to read the current political winds and say the sustainability movement is on the way out. Yes, it’s very hard for people to focus on the long-term trajectory of our relationship to the environment and our dependency on greenhouse-gas emitting fuels when there is legitimate concern by many about making this month’s payroll or mortgage payment. However, the time to invest is in a down economy — just ask Warren Buffett. And one of the eras of greatest innovations of the past century occurred during the Great Depression when fortunes were made in steel, oil and railroads. So my advice is to double down on the sustainability plans many of you probably started in 2008 or 2009 and ask how you can save your customers money in terms of energy costs, travel costs, printing costs, etc., through the tools we deliver in our industry. Ask yourself — who are my strategic partners who can help me deliver a more sustainable AV solution? What’s my company’s software play? Do we have any bright folks with patentable ideas who need to be unleashed? How are we marketing our company? Now is the time to innovate new products, services and solutions. My MBA’d business partner, Andy, calls it counter-cyclical investment. I call it survival. When we get through this deep economic trough — and we will — we don’t want to be the guy on some street corner still schlocking projectors like it’s 1999. 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 (STEP) rating system. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Leave a Comment Share Article
Click here for more informationGreenbuild 2011: Green Roofs, Rainwater Harvesting… and Video Walls? By Rachel Peterson Manager of Best Practices, InfoComm International My first trip to Greenbuild and Greenbuild’s first time in YYZ (thanks to the iconic band, Rush, for popularizing that airport code to make it far easier than the arduous task of typing Toronto). Not only was it Greenbuild’s first time in Toronto, but it was also the first time it was held outside of the U.S. It’s just a matter of time before we see the same show in Mumbai. I’ll admit it –- I have been a slow adopter of sustainable ideas and practices, mostly due to my fear of being greenwashed and my undying need to question EVERYTHING. However, through the many brilliant subject matter experts that I have encountered over the last few years in my task forces, I truly believe our industry can play a HUGE role in achieving sustainable building alongside the construction industry. Luckily, Greenbuild gets it and InfoComm member APG Displays, who exhibited at Greenbuild this year, can show off its products proudly (a video wall that uses as much energy as a hair dryer and a flexible LED curtain that uses as much energy as a coffee pot) knowing that it can directly contribute to an owner achieving a LEED® certified building if the company’s energy-efficient audiovisual displays are specified in a project. Wait… not so fast. Unfortunately, this is not true and our manufacturers and consultants are all too aware of the fact. BUT THAT’S OK! The USGBC and its believers and followers acknowledge that LEED® is not all-encompassing and there are innumerable ways to practice sustainability that are not covered in the rating system. That’s why InfoComm developed the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP) Foundation and the development of the STEP rating is giving companies, like APG Display, the chance to truly play a part in the sustainability of a building. PHEW. I could walk around the show floor at Greenbuild relaxed, knowing that our industry will no longer be alienated from this sustainability imperative. It truly was an enlightening experience to see all the amazing ways a commercial building, a school or a residence (among other buildings) could function more sustainably, for example, by eliminating the heat island effect and improving the environment for the occupants by “greening” a roof. Literally, putting a park or a garden on the roof of the building. Brilliant! I love it. Reharvesting rainwater to keep that roof green? Even better! I think it’s “simple” concepts like this that will one day become common place, along with a SINGLE, building-wide control system that ensures that not only that the fourth floor of a building totally black, AV systems totally powered off and air conditioning completely deactivated when not in use, but also that the precious, reharvested rainwater isn’t being used during Hurricane Irene or a visit from one of her other Caribbean/Atlantic cyclonic friends. While I’m going for my LEED Green Associate certification, don’t worry; I’m not jumping ship. I thoroughly enjoyed taking LEED 101 and LEED 201 and I’m impressed with the quality of the educators that USGBC has to spread its message, which I still think is a good one despite my friends in our industry not being a part of it. I love the InfoComm industry and I believe I need to truly understand how we fit into sustainability (or according to LEED, how we do not fit) so I can continue to march alongside you through STEP, Building Information Modeling (BIM), AV/IT integration and future emerging technologies and business trends that haven’t even been defined yet. My experience at Greenbuild made it clear: the world’s desire to achieve sustainable and more efficiently run buildings, resulting in lower operating costs, is still alive and well despite the economic climate. It was also clear to me that through the amazing thought leadership and breadth of knowledge our members possess and share with us staff people, InfoComm is well on its way to becoming the leader in sustainability. Rachel Peterson is the manager of best practices at InfoComm International. Leave a Comment Share Article Five Keys to SBT Success InfoComm International There are many reasons why smart building technologies (SBT) are a growing trend in the design and construction industry – lower costs, higher efficiency and sustainability, to name a few. The rise of SBT presents both a daunting challenge and a compelling opportunity for AV professionals. What sets SBT apart from other trends is the cross-industry goodwill and collaboration that will drive SBT to the forefront of all construction projects in the near future. What is SBT and why should AV pros care? The InfoComm IBT Task Force defines SBT as a process of conceiving, designing, constructing, commissioning, and operating buildings, which leverages technology to optimize the goals and objectives of the built environment. The emphasis on that definition is the word process. SBT is neither a product nor a standalone technology; therefore, it is important that AV professionals have the tools needed to understand SBT from end-to-end. “Sustainability is good business, but only if business is part of the process. The AV business has not been part of the sustainable building process until now (through STEP). More importantly, sustainable buildings will lead to SBT buildings as a natural progression: just as energy efficient buildings became green buildings and green buildings became sustainable buildings,” says Allen Weidman, InfoComm’s Sustainability Officer and a recognized sustainability and environmental expert. “Sustainable buildings will become smart buildings as SBT is the only way a “sustainable building” can operate as designed.” But there is a subtle shift in thinking and some familiarization with new technology before AV can take advantage of SBT opportunities. Weidman explains, “First they need to think beyond AV, they need to think of themselves as information technology system specialists. Second, they need to be willing to claim the space. There is no single technology designer/installer that has stepped into SBT. HVAC, IT and AV manufacturers are storming the gates, but the implementers (designers, integrators, consultants, installers, operators, etc.) have not.” For AV implementers who are ready to pursue SBT, here are five keys to success: 1) Energy management and monitoring systems SBT is different from LEED and other recent trends because it takes the building occupants into account. Their impact on building operation is an area that needs to be understood by anyone who wishes to act as the SBT project manager for the building’s construction. The area of biggest impact by building occupants is on energy consumption and, therefore, energy monitoring services are high on the list of important technologies. “SBT will remove some of the occupant decision-making while offering occupants more feedback on their actions. A cubicle dweller can still bring in the under-desk-space heater but the outlet is sub-metered; the energy usage will show up on the cube dweller’s desktop LCD so he or she can directly see the relationship between that heater and the building’s energy consumption,” says Weidman. Energy management services are a multi-billion dollar market segment. According to the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), a 2009 member survey found that the majority of respondents sold energy management tools and services to the commercial, education and medical markets; markets in which AV is already operating. AV can help manage the plug load as well as interface with their electrical trade counterparts to better understand the overall building’s resource consumption. 2) Building dashboards Energy monitoring is often rolled into a larger, holistic view of the building via a building dashboard. Companies who specialize in dashboard user interfaces are data visualization experts who recognize how best to lay out the information in easy-to-understand graphs or charts. AV’s role isn’t to also become data experts, but to understand how these dashboards aggregate and relay information to building occupants. Building dashboard designs range from the simple web page to a more complex series of information trees. No matter what the design, the goal is the same: To convey the real-time status of every system in the building. A prototype example of how a university may use building dashboard is seen via the UC-Berkeley Dashboard Project whose goal is to make every building’s resource usage data available to everyone on campus. 3) Mechanical systems For AV professionals to step up as the SBT project manager on a project, he or she must be well-versed in the language and protocols used by MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) firms. Specifically, commercial and industrial mechanical systems are complex and are very different from anything that is encountered in the residential market. BACnet, a communications protocol, is a popular standard for HVAC, life safety and other systems. Many commercial and industrial building automation and control systems use BACnet for primary systems communications. BACnet International oversees the testing and adoption of BACNet, and is a great resource to learn more about it. 4) Lighting control Lighting is sometimes forgotten when dealing with audio and video systems. Most often, lighting and lighting control is under the purview of the electrical contractor and not the AV contractor. As with mechanical systems, lighting control relies on a communication protocol to interface with the building automation system. Lighting manufacturers like Leviton have also branched out into fan control, occupancy sensors and relay panels in addition to lighting products. Keep abreast of such changes is imperative for an AV professional to become successful at managing an SBT project. 5) STEP Last but not least, AV professionals who want to fully understand SBT should read the STEP Foundation’s Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP) design manual once it is made public. Approximately one-third of all points awarded in the STEP program are related to SBT and STEP will play a large part in helping AV professionals make the leap into the SBT project manager role. Weidman notes that the information needed to start a STEP project is already available from manufacturers and others in the AV industry. “However, to help the AV professional the STEP Foundation will be developing educational programs for the AV pro as well as architects, designers, and building operators. Additionally the Foundation will be developing a “verifier” educational program to help insure consistency and transparency in evaluating designs and installations that will be submitted to STEP,” he adds. Overall, the ROI for SBT buildings is huge for the AV industry. “The AV industry has the opportunity to design, install and manage the SBT system. More importantly, the AV professional is the only current building design participant who has the knowledge and skill to complete the information process by providing the SBT information to the user/occupant,” stresses Weidman. “In other words, the AV industry has the opportunity to humanize SBT.” This article was reprinted with permission from InfoComm International. Leave a Comment Share Article InfoComm Wants You to Help Guide the Future of GreenAV The InfoComm STEP Foundation is looking for some pilot projects to implement its new sustainability rating system. Please consider submitting a STEP Pilot Project by registering a system you’ve done or want to do that may be used to qualify as green via the STEP program. The link to the registration form below allows you to recommend projects that you are involved in for STEP compliance. InfoComm International will assist with some costs associated with projects recommended by its membership. Fill out the form here: http://www.infocomm.org/cps/rde/xbcr/infocomm/Samplepilotprojectform.pdf Leave a Comment Share Article Draper Revive Window Shade Earns Cradle-to-Cradle Silver Certification Draper’s new eco-friendly window shade fabric GreenScreen Revive has passed the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s verified rating system for assessing and improving products. The system is based on five categories — renewable energy, clean water, material health, social responsibility and material reutilization. GreenScreen Revive received a silver rating. GreenScreen Revive provides solar control, reducing heat and glare while offering a remarkably clean view through to the outdoors owing to its finely-knit weave. This fire retardant, PVC-free fabric is constructed of 100 percent polyester yarn, with a minimum of 89 percent REPREVE polyester. REPREVE is recycled and recyclable, contains low VOC’s, and is made in the USA. GreenScreen® Revive fabric is made with REPREVE polyester. REPREVE is made from 100 percent recycled materials, making it one of the most earth-friendly ingredients you’ll find anywhere. For more information about REPREVE, go to: http://www.repreve.com Leave a Comment Share Article Extron Ships Another Energy Star Qualified Amp Extron has started shipping the MPA 152, an ENERGY STAR-qualified, integrated mini power amplifier. The MPA 152 provides stereo amplification for speaker systems in classrooms and other applications requiring compact, economical audio solutions. This ENERGY STAR-qualified amplifier features a highly efficient, advanced Class D amplifier design with patented CDRS (Class D Ripple Suppression) technology that provides a smooth, clean audio waveform and an improvement in signal fidelity over conventional Class D designs, according to Extron. This high efficiency design allows the amplifier to be fanless and operate in environments with little or no ventilation. The MPA 152 is an energy efficient (GreenAV) product with an auto power-down feature that automatically places the amplifier into standby after 25 minutes of inactivity. It consumes 3 watts when idle and less than 1 watt in standby mode. The MPA 152 is housed in a compact, 1U, quarter-rack-width enclosure, and is UL 2043 plenum rated, allowing for a concealed installation above a drop ceiling. It delivers 15 watts rms per channel into 4 ohms and 8 watts rms into 8 ohms. Details and specs on the MPA 152 are here: http://www.extron.com/company/article.aspx?id=mpa152ad Leave a Comment Share Article Viewsonic Now Makes LED Projectors ViewSonic today unveiled its brand new LED projector line, including the PLED-W200 and PLED-W500. Both ultra portable and energy-efficient, the projectors feature miniature form factors (pico projectors) and a 20,000-hour long-life LED light source. They are both 3D-ready with 120Hz frame rates, offer WXGA (1280×800) resolution and 500 lumens (not ANSI) brightness, and include HDMI and VGA ports, plus USB with 1GB of internal memory for computer-less presentations. The PLED-W200 is less than one pound, with specs here: http://www.viewsonic.com/products/pledw200.htm The PLED-W500 is less than three pounds and specs are here: http://www.viewsonic.com/products/pled-w500.htm Leave a Comment Share Article Sanyo Partners with BrightGrid for Solar Panel Lease Program SANYO has launched a new solar lease program that helps homeowners with financing a SANYO Solar Panel System. SANYO is working with BrightGrid Solar to offer various financial programs that will give homeowners the power to choose the way they want to pay for their electricity costs. Currently, the program is available in select states — California, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado and Hawaii — and is expected to roll out in additional states over the coming months. As a leading provider of solar panels worldwide for over 30 years, SANYO is known for its PV panels’ high density of power per square foot and for superior performance in real world installations. SANYO grows silicon ingots and makes wafers in its own factories in California and Oregon. As we move into offering more and more service-based solutions for our clients (like we did with network integration), we’ll find ourselves with opportunities to take the lead in GreenAV integration as well. And solar power is part of that — with the up-front initial costs being the barrier to entry. A lot of us are already Sanyo dealers, so this is an opportunity for us to lead the future, not follow it. The three solar lease options available to install SANYO-quality solar panels:
- Zero Money Down – With no upfront out of pocket expense, homeowners can reduce their current monthly electricity payment by becoming a clean energy generator.
- Prepaid Lease – Customers may opt to prepay their solar lease payments for the next 20 years and enjoy the benefits of leasing without the hassles of system ownership.
- Variable Upfront Payment Lease – Customers may choose to put some money upfront to further reduce their monthly electric bill and switch to clean energy. With this option, customers choose their level of savings.