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The Nuts and Bolts of a Green AV Installation, Part 1

May 3, 2010 11:32 AM, By Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Green AV is big and getting bigger, but how does it really work out on the job where the nuts, bolts, and cable come together? Mark Morrison, Patrick DeZess, and Allan Childers of Audio Video Systems (AVS) put it all together in the new headquarters of the U.S. Green Building Council, and they’re going to tell us how it worked.

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SVC: Mark, Patrick, and Allan, it’s great to be with you here on the Corporate AV podcast. And you’re with Audio Video Systems up there in Virginia...
Childers: Right.
…and we were talking about the U.S. Green Building Council’s headquarters where you did a major installation there. And I would think that the United States Green Building Council, I mean, when they have a headquarters set up and installed, it had better be an environmentally green building. First of all, before we get into the installation, what does AVS do and how long have you guys been around?
Childers: Actually, AVS was founded by the owner, Peter Barthelson, in 1992—and so almost coming up on 20 years—and we’re a systems integrator, [and we] specialize in design, engineering, [and] integration of audiovisual systems. We do everything from the basic AV to video teleconferencing suites. We specialize in a lot of government installations—command and control centers, operation centers, large conference rooms for offices, general things like that. One of the things that we have been doing is working with the Pentagon since the mid ’90s on their renovation program, PENREN, and so we’ve worked as the major AV installer for that—all the different command and control centers and offices, conference rooms for the generals and for the different Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, etc. But we’re doing a little bit more, for example, with the Green Building Council—a little bit more corporate, a little bit more education, but the majority is government and military stuff. [Timestamp: 2:16]

And you’re getting ready pretty soon to be moving into a new headquarters yourselves with AVS. How is that been going?
Childers: A couple of years ago, the owner bought some property, and we designed and are completing the construction of Barthelson Plaza, which will be a headquarters for AVS. Right now, we’re tentatively scheduled to move in just at the end of April or early May. And that is a 72,000-square-foot, four-story building. It’s going to be LEED-certified, I believe, shooting for the gold. If we can go higher, we will. As a green building, it will be organically managed and a lot of the stuff is recycled—furniture, content, and everything that you can to green building and all the stuff that will need LEED certification. [Timestamp: 3:03]

Well, obviously, the green movement is very big in AV now, and it sounds to me like AVS has made some pretty serious commitments to operating in green. What other things have you been doing within the company for that?
Childers: Well, actually, the Green Building Council install kind of jumped off a few ideas for us because we looked at that—we had to do some things differently, obviously, which we’ll get into—but we kind of took a look at what we were doing internally and put some ideas together. We put together sort of a three-fold plan of things that we could do … internally, how we’re doing everything from recycling and doing VTC instead of traveling or things like that … the basic stuff that people do for green internally. The other point is the LEED certification to the new building, but also, we looked at what we could do to provide sustainability and green stuff for our customers and the systems we build. We look at green AV sort of like a tag line, as Patrick has said before, but we look at ourselves as a company that’s using sustainable business practices in the products that we provide to our customers. We’ve got an internal team, a green task force of ourselves, that has been doing research for months and putting together plans of things we’re doing. We’ve implemented things like a major recycling policy, obviously, internally, but externally, for our customers, we’re looking at different things like what we can do for power management in our systems, how we can use our control systems to help customers—save them energy. If they’re not using their systems 24/7, then maybe they can save costs by turning them off on the weekends or things like that. That’s a simple example, but we’re looking at everything we can do and then we’re also doing a blog online talking about the green stuff that we’ve been doing, sort of telling a story of what we’re doing. There’s not a lot of people talking about it besides some of the trade magazines. The system integrators aren’t talking too much, but we want to put ourselves out there and basically drive what’s going on in the industry, sort of inspire people to challenge themselves and challenge the industry to see what we can do to further sustainability efforts for the AV industry. [Timestamp: 5:20]

Well, it was no secret, I guess, the extent of AVS’ involvement and green technology, and I guess it’s no surprise then that the Green Building Council decided to go with you folks on this. So what did they tell you when they first came to you with this on the installation and what was the scope of what they wanted to do?
Morrison: Well, originally the Green Building Council was an existing client that we had, and we actually installed their systems in their old facility. And when they were looking to move into their new facility, they actually engaged us for some design and some consulting to make sure that we could fit the needs in the new building. During that process, we identified what they liked about their current systems and what they didn’t like about their current systems, and it pretty much came to fruition that one of the most important things that they wanted was a system that was as easy as possible to use. That meant automating the system. The actual green cost savings wasn’t a driving requirement as much as the usability of the system, so during that time period, we looked at various technologies from Crestron, AMX, all the major vendors, and then we went down the road of actually looking at possibly automating the systems, tying into other building control systems, things of that nature. After we came up with a concept, demonstrated the functionality of it to them, went over it in detail, they then gave us another word for the actual installation portion of the project. [Timestamp: 6:45]

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