On Earth Day, Green AV Faces Uncertain Future

Interest level in energy-efficient AV products and solutions seems to be limited. Will Earth Day serve as the springboard for its resurgence or has the market spoken?

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On Earth Day, Green AV Faces Uncertain Future

Vistacom has what it calls a Green Room to celebrate an energy-efficient approach to business, but it's a rarity in the industry.

I had been planning to create a roundup this week in the days ahead of Earth Day that highlighted some of the so-called “green” AV products that are making installations more energy-efficient. So I searched our site to find some examples of products marketed as green or energy-efficient. I came up with a few, but certainly not enough to put together a slideshow worthy of your eyeballs.

Then I tweeted about my plans and asked for companies to send in their latest examples of green AV products so I could try to round out my coverage with submissions from the so-called AVTweeps. This sort of request is generally met with a flurry of responses from companies who are looking to capitalize on an opportunity for publicity, but this time, I heard crickets and saw tumbleweed.

As I pondered how to fill out my planned slideshow, I checked out a story I’d written a few years ago about the STEP Foundation—which brought InfoComm International, CompTIA and the Telecommunications Industry Association together to create a rating system related to the energy efficiency of a particular installation and a building as a whole.

STEP was launched in 2010 with much fanfare from the three organizations and had some success stories during its abbreviated tenure. Speaking of that, the coordinating organizations decided a few years ago it was no longer financially viable to keep going.

The foundation is dormant indefinitely, but organizers are quick to say it’s not officially disbanded. The obvious conclusion you can draw from this is there simply wasn’t enough integrator interest to keep the program going or put more money into the rating system.

For years, we’ve heard integrators say it’s too expensive for them to go out of their way to include energy-efficient products in their installations while also hearing gripes from some of the STEP Foundation members that the U.S. Green Building Council wouldn’t include AV in its LEED rating system, which is why they created their own.

It’s clear the interest level in green AV initiatives is tepid, at best. Whether that’s because integrators themselves don’t want to learn what they need to know about installing products that are focused on energy efficiency or because customers continue to be scared off by the higher upfront costs.

This is certainly not to say there is no green AV anywhere in the marketplace these days, as evidenced by the recent Project of the Week from TechDecisions, a hotel in Central Park that uses sustainability as one of its hallmarks.

But, for the most part, it’s clear the interest level in green AV initiatives is tepid, at best. Whether that’s because integrators themselves don’t want to learn what they need to know about installing products that are focused on energy efficiency or because customers continue to be scared off by the higher upfront costs associated with green building (even if the long-term investment is worth the cost), the truth is Earth Day just isn’t that big of a deal for those in the AV stratosphere.

What can you do about it? What should you do it?

That’s for you to decide. The natural cycle of business will determine the fate of green AV, but there are certainly some passionate advocates of the approach. Clearly, though, there aren’t enough actually marketing the energy-efficiency of their solutions for the green AV movement to grow—or for us to create a robust roundup of solutions.

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