Expert Viewpoint: The Green Push
May 12, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jon Melchin
How AV can improve sustainable design
Green building is a new, growing trend, right? Wrong. It’s no longer merely a trend—green building techniques are now all grown up, and they have become an integral aspect of today’s construction practices. The built environment has a profound impact on our natural habitat, economy, health, safety, and productivity. Sustainability has been elevated by heightened interest not only from designers, but also among building owners, contractors, consumers, and governmental agencies.
In the United States and worldwide, buildings are a massive source of air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been extremely successful with the widespread adoption of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Projects can receive LEED certification, which means an independent third party has verified that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable, and a safe, healthy place to live, learn, and work.
With mandates for LEED-certified buildings coming from cities, states, towns, and governmental agencies (see LEEDing the Way), the USGBC is being swamped with new registrations for LEED certification. LEED is continuously evolving to address various project types—new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core, and shell—as well as targeting specific markets including corporate spaces, schools, healthcare facilities, retail venues, and residential projects. The 2009 version, dubbed LEED v3, was recently established to allow additional flexibility and to embrace new technologies, materials, and advancements in construction science while prioritizing energy-efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
So, in the context of where the industry is heading with LEED and the rising green tide generally, how can AV affect green building design?
AV’s Green Potential
Now more than ever, audiovisual and presentation technologies are fundamental business tools, and they have a substantial impact on the performance of a building, especially intelligent green buildings. Not only are these structures designed to be environmentally friendly, but there is major focus placed on producing healthy, safe spaces where occupant productivity can flourish.
Buildings represent nearly 40 percent of our total energy consumption, and almost 90 percent of our lives are spent indoors, so efficient and healthy buildings are a priority with respect to air quality, thermal comfort, and natural day lighting. In many buildings, AV, communication systems, control and information technologies, and certainly security are critical to business.
The mainstream green movement has increased the demand for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products. Building-product manufacturers are focused on producing green products such as materials containing fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs), products made with recycled content, and certified wood. From this, the term “green AV” was applied to describe systems that incorporate audiovisual technologies that not only have an effect on high-performance buildings, but can contribute to environmental and energy conservation and asset management, as well as maximize operational efficiencies.
Advances in control systems that conserve energy through automation of power switching, lighting, drapes, and thermostats based on time and occupancy levels are helping AV to play a role in green building initiatives. For example, room-scheduling software can be programmed to turn the lights on in a conference room 10 minutes before the start of a meeting and adjust the room temperature automatically. Plasma screens and LCD panels are more energy-efficient than old CRT-based devices, which can mean a lower heat load that allows for smaller HVAC equipment. In addition, these monitors can be used effectively with digital signage to display public information where natural daylight is being designed into the space.
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