STEP: The Unofficial, Semi-Definitive FAQ
Dec 30, 2011 3:31 PM
You may have heard of it. It’s the Sustainable Technology Environments Program, better known as STEP. Not ringing a bell? Or maybe you’ve heard of it, but you’re not sure exactly what it means (or what it has to do with you). One of the original developers of the STEP Rating System admits he sometimes comes across AV professionals who have no idea what STEP is, but that’s changing.
“Awareness is good,” says Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED AP. “Articles have been written, and I’ve given many webinars on STEP. So I’m a little surprised when I run into people in the AV industry who haven’t heard of STEP.”
Walker, who is CEO of Waveguide Consulting, a former president of InfoComm International and a member of the STEP Foundation Board, chaired InfoComm's Green AV Task Force, which evolved into the STEP Task Force. “The question now is, ‘How quickly can we get people empowered to do STEP projects?’” he says.
First thing is to set the record straight. STEP has come a long way in a short time. And when something with such vast potential arrives on the scene, it’s sometimes accompanied by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). With STEP, that doesn’t have to be the case.
STEP and the STEP Rating System are real, living, deployable initiatives. “Think of STEP as LEED for technology,” says Allen Weidman, InfoComm Sustainability Officer and Executive Director of the STEP Foundation, referring to the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
The STEP Foundation has its own list of frequently asked questions, plus other resources. Here we tackle some of what AV professionals need to know to start using STEP right away, taking insight from some of the people most intimate with STEP and its implementation.
As you’ll read below, STEP will continue to evolve (thus the “semi-definitive” FAQ), so it will be important to check in with the STEP Foundation (thestepfoundation.org) regularly. But without further ado, your questions:
Q: What is STEP?
A: STEP is a voluntary system for rating the sustainability of information communications technology systems in the built environment. But just as importantly, STEP is a framework for bringing together professionals from separate but related industries in a unified effort to design, implement and operate greener AV, IT, security, and other building systems. In other words, it is not a green AV program; as its name implies, it is a green technology program.
At the heart of STEP is the STEP Rating System, which guides all stakeholders in a project down the path to a sustainable result by awarding them credits for following agreed-upon practices, depending on their role in the project. The STEP system is broken down into five phases: program, architectural and infrastructure design, system design, systems integration, and operation. Each phase has credits associated with it; the more credits a projects earns, the higher its eventual STEP rating.
When it comes to technology providers, there are STEP credits that all of them — from AV integrators to structured wiring professionals — can earn. The current version of the STEP Rating System includes credits for AV systems and design. But as STEP evolves, there will be credits that pertain specifically to IT, security, cabling, and others.
“In STEP, there are core requirements that all low-voltage systems have to hit, such as recycling packaging and electronics,” says Raymond Kent, CTS, LEED AP, and Co-Chair of the STEP Foundation Technology Task Force. “But things like dealing with power amplifiers are pretty specific to audiovisual, so we’ve identified and written credits that are specific to AV. Now as IT, security and other industries get involved, they will have their own low voltage system-specific credits. That way, for instance, a security company working on a STEP project would focus on the core credits plus their security-specific credits.”
To read the rest of this article, including answers to why STEP exists, what good STEP is to you in attracting business and more visit infocomm.org.
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