Editor's Note: This month SCN debuts a regular GreenAV column written by Scott Walker, who made history in June 2007 when he became the world's first LEED-accredited certified technology specialist in design.
The first paid job I ever had on this planet was switching off lights in my house. It was the mid-'70s, the energy crisis was in full swing, and my dad paid me a dollar a week to go from room to room turning off lights, unwatched TVs, radios, and the occasional curling iron my four older siblings seemed incapable of turning off when they left a room.
At first I did it for the dollar, thinking, "This is easy money-no lawn clippings to bag, no smelly trash to handle, no dishes to wash. This is the life." However, over time another emotion displaced my initial profit motives: I began to get really annoyed that my seemingly intelligent loved ones could walk out of a room and not switch off the lights. Would it kill them to flick the light switch? Did they need an instruction manual and step-by-step training? The utter wastefulness of it struck a chord in my already-forming engineer's brain.
Nearly 30 years later, the long-dormant seed planted by my first job was awakened as I pondered what role our industry could and should play in the sustainable design, or green building, movement. My firm had worked on a number of green building projects, but AV had always been given a pass since the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) point system established by the U.S. Green Building Council did not specifically identify anything required of AV systems. However, as I sat in more LEED strategy meetings, several ideas converged in my head. First, the writing was on the wall that, whether in response to rising energy prices or concerns about global warming, a movement of epic proportions was growing to make buildings more energy efficient, and AV systems weren't helping much in this regard. Second, the building design and construction industry was genuinely struggling with ways to make buildings smarter and thus more energy efficient. And third, we AV folks have most of the skills necessary to help, we have just never been tasked with taking our extensive understanding of building functionality, lighting systems, AV control systems, and videoconferencing and applying this knowledge to make a building more environmentally friendly.
Waveguide Consulting designed the AV systems for this LEED Gold-certified environmental education facility at the Gwinnett Environmental Heritage Center in Buford, GA. The center includes a flexible auditorium/teaching space (pictured), distance-learning lab classroom, videoconference room, and multiple classrooms.
As I read more about the current environmental movement, I also realized that everybody has some space in their soul that's green; they just may not have unearthed it yet. Too often this struggle has been portrayed in political terms: right verses left, pro-business verses pro-environment. However, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, or even if you're completely apolitical, there's a place where you get on the bandwagon.
In the coming months with this GreenAV series, I plan look at ways AV technologies can drive the green building movement, rather than simply being consumers of energy. A movement that is both good and right is a powerful thing. Let's finally take our seat at the table.
You Could Be A Greeny If...
10. You believe global warming is the largest threat facing mankind, and we need to do all we can to solve it.
9.You believe the current model we've built for our civilization is unsustainable as the global population zooms past six billion people.
8.You're alarmed by the increased asthma rates in today's children, perhaps even within your own family.
7.You're an avid outdoorsman or sportsman whose soul is replenished by spending time in nature; and from your exposure to it, you understand nature's delicate balance.
6.Your spiritual beliefs have led you to an understanding that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this wonderful creation we call Earth.
5.Your family budget has been repeatedly and negatively impacted by high prices at the pump, and you've begun to consider alternate or public transportation.
4.You're a businessperson who can see a money-making opportunity in this whole green thing.
3.You believe the nation's security interests are paramount and dependency on foreign oil from the Middle East makes us less safe.
2.You don't like Hugo Chavez and believe we can stick it to him if we were truly energy independent.
1. Or, like me at age eight, you just think it's stupid to needlessly waste our finite resources when we have all the tools necessary to conserve energy and improve efficiency with little or no sacrifice in our quality of life.