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Green is the New Black

Developments about the regulations that govern sustainability and green business are crucial in their own way. This time around, columnist Midori Connolly gets into the business side of sustainability and, more specifically, how AV pros can stand to profit from the green AV movement.

I have to admit something. I sort of struggled with the last edition of Sustainable AV. Recent developments about regulations that govern sustainability and green business are crucial and exciting in their own way. But inspired writing? Not so much. This time around, however, I'm thrilled to get into the business side of sustainability and, more specifically, how we can all stand to profit from the green AV movement. When contemplating the different ways to profit from green AV and green business practices, we should first revisit the underlying principle of sustainable business. Basically, it's that we must consume less than what we have available in order to endure and sustain.

Just as with a household budget, we have to carefully allocate our resources. In the case of sustainable business, we're managing our planet's natural resources and our greenhouse gas emissions/carbon footprint. Although we're voluntarily tightening the belt now, soon these steps to limit our impact will be government-mandated. Some of the methods used to meet our ecological budget include energy efficiency, water conservation, waste diversion, and reduced consumption of raw materials.

As it concerns the AV industry, we can stand to benefit from this methodology in many ways. To illustrate the point, let's look at manufacturing. In some ways, the benefits are quite obvious. As natural resources such as water and aluminum become more expensive, modifying manufacturing processes to limit their input can cut costs proportionally. But there's also a significant business opportunity here. Can you see it? Let me help with an example.

A manufacturer recently sent me a detailed memorandum on the recyclability of its projectors. The aluminum construction was meant to be easily disassembled and recycled. To be sure, I was impressed that they had designed their product with the end of its life in mind. However, what if the company were to take it one step further and offer a recycling program? The recycling of an old projector reduces the need for increasingly costly virgin aluminum (this is a progression from "cradle-to-grave" and referred to as "cradle-to-cradle" design). Besides cutting material costs, the manufacturer has also created invaluable new touch points throughout the product's lifetime. Does it get any better than having a client think of your company first when a projector has reached the end of its useful life? And how convenient to know when a client is in need of a new product.

Sticking with this example, the benefits also trickle down to the various distribution channels. In an economy where we're all searching for ways to augment our touch points without increasing costs, sustainability is a positive and worthwhile excuse for additional communications with clientele.

This notion of creating positive communications leads to another benefit of sustainable business, which involves the branding and positioning of our products, services, and industry as a whole. As individual players in the field, we must each represent our positions with lucid and bold statements about our commitment to sustainability. In a world that is increasingly concerned about energy consumption and wasteful practices, consumers are voraciously seeking green brands. In a 2009 Deloitte research report, "Finding Green in Today's Shoppers," a whopping 95 percent of the approximate 6,000 shoppers surveyed indicated they are ready and willing to consider more sustainable products.

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