How Important is “Being Green” In the Classroom Technology Decision Making Process?
The honest answer is “not exceptionally important.” The reason, however, may surprise you. Many schools have sustainability initiatives in place that cover a wide variety of campus life processes from printing and food services to facilities and grounds keeping. While technology is an obvious environmental concern, that concern is usually a result of the amount of electricity that the products consume (especially when accidentally left on overnight) rather than the make-up of the product or the length of the electronics’ lifecycles.
The AV industry has done a pretty amazing job over the past few years developing and manufacturing products that can contribute to a more energy efficient technology installation. Many consider energy efficiency to be the most “tangible” characteristic of green tech installations; producing the highest monetary pay-off. Some of the new standards of professional AV equipment include “eco mode” where a product will reduce energy consumption (while also reducing output or performance), and network visibility to remotely control and schedule use of the product (i.e. turn on/off when not in use). For many AV electronics, being energy efficient is no longer a marketing spec for which the product price increases. It is necessary to be a player in the market. Additionally, while technology evolves, integrators have started using fewer electronics in installations. Some of what used to be accomplished with four pieces of equipment can now be accomplished using one. Plus, control systems are able to link more equipment, beyond AV, to create not only an efficient but synergistic and smarter system.
Something to keep in mind, however, is that end of lifecycle processes (e-cycling), product make-up and options, quality assurance processes and manufacturing locations are still important considerations when sourcing environmentally friendlier products for classroom technology installations. Sourcing, designing and installing with these in mind will help to create an even more economically efficient and environmentally friendly ed tech installation.
So while the answer is “not exceptionally important,” the reason for that is manufacturers, designers, integrators and technicians have done a great job creating and maintaining systems that are far more energy efficient than ever before. It is almost unnecessary now to ask for what most consider to be an environmentally responsibly alternative to a standard classroom technology installation. The new standard is already leaps and bounds more “green” than where we were just 7 years ago, understanding that the most apparent issue with technology equipment was the electrical draw.