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What Can You Contribute to the Green AV Movement?

May 8, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

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Green Numbers

Just about everything is going green. As more and more consumers become educated about the environment and how to decrease their footprint, green is becoming a successful commodity. In two recently released studies—one put out by the New Buildings Institute and one by CoStar Group—green-certified buildings outperform non-certified buildings in energy savings, occupancy rates, sales price, and rental rates. Both studies prove green building practices are secure financial investments.

But going green isn't easy. Although clients and consumers are wanting to live and work in an environmentally friendly setting—even if it means paying more up front to save more down the road—the AV industry is still on the cusp of this market. Many integrators and manufacturers are still spinning their wheels to find ways to contribute to the green movement. Some companies have made inroads in how they can contribute to the cause, such as Auralex Acoustics, Draper, Christie Digital, Da-Lite, WireLogic, Liberty Wire & Cable, and Crestron.

"Success thus far has been limited because our dealers don't know enough about how AV products affect the environment," Amy Madden, MBA, CTS, LEED-AP, Draper AV regional manager for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. "Manufacturers like Draper are just now getting the info to their dealers that allow them to pick and implement product that fits into the 'eco-design,'—projectors or flatscreens that use less energy, screen fabrics that are GreendGuard-certified, control systems that can sense when a system isn't being used, recyclability, the list goes on. We are also just starting to educate the end user market accordingly."

As more and more studies are released that point to the economical success of green approaches, it'll be more compelling for integrators to accept the momentum and value of such practices as more than just a fad. Some integrators are hesitantant to become part of the green AV movement, whether it be for lack of resources and education or its selling power.

"I think that the current state of eco-success in AV is lacking but growing," says Draper Green Buildings Coordinator, Clint Childress, LEED-AP. "It seems that for the longest time, the AV industry has been able to focus on itself outside the scope of the construction or operation within the rest of the building. Green buildings are causing different groups and people to work together who haven't traditional. Despite this AV is just now starting to be pulled into green building discussions where it was not in the past. I think that this lateness to the table is in part because people did not understand green or know how to play a part in it. I've even seen people mention that green was an overused term in AV. I believe strongly to the contrary. AV integrators are in a prime spot to offer products and control of products and system in ways that others are not. These systems could be focused on providing better control over the environment to maximize energy efficiency. They could also focus on off site management so the need to for on-site troubleshooting and travel and downtime are reduced. There are many mores ways, but it takes education and understanding of green to be able to deliver more of an impact."

Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the tornado that swept through the town of Greensburg, Kan., demolishing almost the entire city. Rebuilding efforts are underway. With the literally clean slate, the city is electing not to just rebuild, but do so thoughtfully, committing itself to a model green community. In December, the city council adopted a resolution that all city buildings greater than 4,000 square feet will be certified LEED Platinum. It's a big step not only for the city, but in LEED standards as well. It's also an example of how far sustainability has come. From hippy to mainstream, green is now a part of everyday thinking.

But the question on every integrators mind, is how do I become a part of conversation and implement it into my everyday practices as well as my installations? It's a daunting question that's getting some attention and thought to find answers.

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