Sustainability in AV issues took center stage when Commercial Integrator and rAVe [PUBS] collaborated on a LAVNCH & LEARN. The webinar, titled “Sustainability & AV,” broadcast live to well over 100 AV industry members on Thursday, April 20. Steph Beckett, managing editor of rAVe [PUBS], and Dan Ferrisi, editor-in-chief of Commercial Integrator, hosted the one-hour presentation. Sponsors included recognized industry leaders and sustainability champions like Sony Electronics, Legrand AV, Shure, NETGEAR, Visionary Solutions and PPDS. All proceeds from the event — $15,000 in total — went to Earth-friendly charities, underscoring the organizers and sponsors’ commitment to championing sustainability worldwide. Christina De Bono, founder of Sustainability in AV (SAVe), joined Beckett and Ferrisi for the hour, speaking passionately about SAVe’s efforts and why fighting for a healthier planet is her life’s work.
Megan A. Dutta, editor-in-chief of LAVNCH [CODE], conceived the entire initiative. Originally set to be a co-host, she was unable to participate live, but prerecorded interviews she conducted were part of the program.
Sustainability in AV (SAVe) and its Mission
At the outset, De Bono gave viewers a short primer on SAVe and its good work. SAVe is, of course, the AV industry’s first independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together stakeholders to take concerted action to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs reflect the consensus view of U.N. members about how best to address environmental degradation, poverty and inequality, as well as to foster responsible production and consumption. “The challenges we’re facing right now are profound and getting worse,” De Bono warned. “We really need to address them as nations, as businesses and as individuals.” She lamented that, yes, the AV industry is part of the problem. De Bono noted that, in 2019, North America and Europe generated over 59 million metric tons of e-waste, much of it ending up in landfills and dumps. We can, and must, do better.
Thankfully, SAVe’s efforts are multi-pronged and highly targeted. One initiative, called SAVe: a Second Life, is meant to funnel no-longer-needed products into waiting hands. SAVe is working with non-governmental organizations and higher-education institutions to support that initiative. Another key effort involves SAVe certification. “We will provide an educational program/workshop and help you put together your plan to create a sustainable [posture] for your organization,” De Bono said. Finally, SAVe created an Ambassador Program, which the organization announced in conjunction with ISE 2023. “We met people from all over the world who are leaders in our industry [and] who want to get involved and want to take action,” she added. Already, SAVe has attracted numerous ambassadors.
Each webinar sponsor participated in a short, five-minute video Q&A, giving them an opportunity to expound on their sustainability in AV efforts. Speaking on behalf of Legrand AV, which donated $2,000 to the U.S. Green Building Council, Tim Troast, VP, technology and product strategy, shared his passion. Emphasizing Legrand’s size, Troast noted that the company has a unique opportunity to lead impactfully. “We rank as one of the top sustainable-performance organizations [and] we’re on the global 100 list of most sustainable companies,” he explained.
Troast also remarked upon Legrand’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, two components of which are reducing the company’s carbon footprint and promoting the circular economy. Speaking of the former, Troast proudly noted, “We’ve set pretty ambitious targets for well over a decade. And, in just over a decade, we’ve reduced our own CO2 footprint…by over 50%.” The circular economy, meanwhile, entails reusing and renewing products before finally recycling them, thus prolonging their useful life.
Althea Ricketts, VP, corporate initiatives, speaking on behalf of Shure, which donated $2,000 to SAVe, emphasized that sustainability is top of mind for Shure’s customers, associates and partners. “So, of course, as a company that’s operating in communities, it’s very important to us,” she underscored. Ricketts also emphasized Shure’s expansive view of sustainability, encompassing four pillars: the company’s associates, its community, its products and its manufacturing processes. “We come at it from those four different points of view,” she explained, “and we have initiatives that apply to all of them.” Ricketts also points to Shure’s nearly 100-year history and counterposes it to short-term, profit-centered thinking. “You might have to do some investments now that might impact your revenue,” she observed. “But, for the long term, you will be that 100-year-old company. You’ll sustain and maintain because you’re looking toward the future.”
PPDS split its donation, giving $1,000 to SAVe and another $1,000 to Trash Turtles, a beach clean-up nonprofit. Martijn Vanderwoude, VP, marketing and business development, spoke on behalf of the company. He emphasized that being a good corporate citizen has been a priority throughout Philips’ 132-year history, but PPDS has redoubled its efforts in recent times. “At the end of the day, every year, we make better products that do a better job on sustainability,” he declared, “protecting the environment, reducing power consumption [and] reducing CO2 emissions.” Vanderwoude pointed to Philips’ Tableaux epaper signage solution as a huge step forward. He explained, “People ask us, ‘How much power is this using?’ Zero power. ‘How many nits does this product have?’ Zero nits. It’s a [completely] new product category.” Dramatic drops in power consumption are just one way that PPDS fights for sustainability in AV.
Speaking on behalf of Sony Electronics, which donated $2,000, Rich Ventura, VP, professional display solutions, underscored the breadth of Sony’s sustainability vision. It includes everything from reducing ink on packaging to making products (e.g., LinkBuds S) using recycled material. As Ventura put it, “Sony looks at every single thing we do from a sustainability message.” He also stressed the company’s commitment to action. Thus, Ventura pointed to a new DVLED display from Sony, which boasts massively reduced power consumption and heat, as well as reduced materials and parts. He mentioned future BRAVIA displays that will use less virgin plastic, further driving home the company’s commitment. “We’re making heavy action in our products [and] our technologies,” Ventura added. In fact, he said, it even filters down to packaging dimensions and weight, which can affect how much fuel is necessary to transport the products.
NETGEAR, which donated $2,000 to SAVe, offered Richard Jonker, VP, business development, as its sustainability thought leader. He started with a high-level observation about why sustainability is so important. “We all live on the same planet,” he remarked. “Whether you have an opinion about sustainability or not, you have to deal with the consequences.” He continued the thought by appealing to human solidarity, touting the power of concerted action by citing efforts to heal the hole in the ozone layer. “I think we’re uniquely positioned to help,” he said of NETGEAR, given its centrality to internet access. “But also, we’re deeply aware of the fact that we can make that difference. You’re obliged to do so if you have the means.” He also hinted at NETGEAR’s brand new whitepaper, which addresses how exactly to achieve sustainability in AV goals.
Last but not least, Scott Freshman, COO of Visionary Solutions, which donated a $5,000 grant to SAVe, offered insights into long-term commitment to power consciousness in its hardware designs. Indeed, he mentioned Visionary Solutions customers — among them, the U.S. Air Force and the International Space Station — and said, “We were recognized for that form factor and low power consumption. And that’s what actually allowed [our products] to be selected to be on the International Space Station.” Freshman also remarks that Visionary Solutions’ AVoIP endpoints use standard PoE power, thus facilitating considerably less power consumption. With the products used at scale at Resorts World, the engineers calculated that the Visionary Solutions endpoints saved $60,000 a year in energy costs. This is a huge benefit, he noted, because “…once the integrator and the manufacturer have come and gone, the end user is left to deal with [the issue of] energy consumption.”
Please watch the full webinar on sustainability in AV on LAVNCH & LEARN. There, you can see the complete Q&As featuring each sponsor, as well as hear De Bono, Beckett and Ferrisi’s ongoing comments on and analysis of sustainability and AV.
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