Putting The "Green" In Your AV Machine

Being “green” is all the rage these days. In fact, it’s just as popular as calling a videoconference room a “collaboration room.” However, it is a trend that we all need to acknowledge, and probably something that we will need to consider for the rest of our lives for the sake of the planet. There are several things we can do in the audiovisual field to consider the environment when we are planning systems. However, it’s always wise to approach each audiovisual system as an engineering problem, and not as an environmental science project.

  • So, rule number one: Always deploy and procure only what works best for your needs. Along the way, try to consider energy efficient alternatives, power-saving schemes, and Energy Star-certified devices. If there’s a fit, great. If not, don’t try to force things. A failure in an important audiovisual system can sometimes cause more harm than saving a few dollars or a few kWh of energy per year. Here are several ways you can put the “green” into your AV machine.


Energy Star-qualified video displays receive the rating because they are significantly more energy efficient than non-qualified displays. That’s a great thing, and certainly a way to infuse some “green” into your project. However, you have to be careful because there aren’t any professional displays on the market with the Energy Star rating. Most devices with an Energy Star rating are consumer grade. So be careful.

Control system manufacturers are making major pushes to highlight their applications for saving energy. These manufacturers’ solutions
can be used to schedule the use of virtually every single component in an AV system. This could include the scheduling and controlling
of lighting systems and draperies, occupancy detection, and the proper adjustment of heating or cooling systems. Although each building or project is unique, using a centralized control system that’s intelligently programmed can lead to massive amounts of energy savings per year.

There are four major initiatives that have a significant impact on the audiovisual industry. LEED (www.usgbc.org) promotes conservation
via project certification, professional accreditation, and provision of numerous educational resources. There are AV industry efforts underway to allow “LEED points” for certain practices that involve AV systems. RoHS (www.rohs.gov.uk) was begun in 2006 to provide directives to electronics manufacturers on the usage of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. CEC Title 24 (www.energy.ca.gov) was established in 1978 in response to a law passed to reduce California’s energy consumption, and has been a benchmark for many states and countries. Energy Star (www.energystar.gov) is a team effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that is intended to help people save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

You’d be surprised how many times I have walked into a facility to find four displays in operation when a system would be better off with only two. Other times when I’ve seen a 12x8 video switcher with less than half of its inputs and outputs in use. I’ve also seen equipment racks with fans that run 24/7, or banks of devices powered by outboard inline transformers that are left on 24/7. I’m sure we could all think of numerous power-wasting devices that are just left on constantly. When idling, they don’t consume much energy, but over their lifecycles, they probably account for more than half of all the energy an AV system will ever consume. So, by all means, plan your systems well and make intelligent usage of power strips, power controls, and power sequencing.

If you are renovating an AV system and have a lot of older equipment that has reached the end of its useful lifecycle, dispose of it properly
or donate it. The NCER (National Center for Electronics Recycling, www.electronicsrecycling.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated
to developing a national infrastructure for the recycling of used electronics. They appropriately call it “Ecylcing,” and provide a wealth of information on finding recycling programs that reclaim valuable materials, serve communities, and help save the environment. Just as guys used to put muscle in cars to impress the ladies, we are now going to have to put the “green” in our electronic systems so that we can impress the single most important lady ever — Mother Earth. So put the “green” into your AV machine — it’s more than trendy, it’s essential.