Focus on Technology: The Greening Power of AV

Green power or green technology is a concept that has become a general buzzword in the construction industry. In its most general terms, it means using renewable power. It first started showing the most presence with building owners trying to get LEED certification for buildings. For example, for projects attempting to obtain the LEED green power credit, there are specific requirements for a new building to obtain a percentage of its power consumption from certified renewable sources for the first two years of the life of a new building.

While there is little in the LEED certification that ties directly to AV, being “green” has become a hot issue within the AV industry itself, yet differences in definition exist:

Green technology in the AV industry usually means the move to more energy efficient products.  Last year was the first time the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Energy Star program had a requirement dedicated to professional AV equipment.  The standards released in 2010 included most commercial AV equipment, and while projectors still do not have an Energy Star classification most other electronic AV equipment is now included.  In 2011 InfoComm, the leading professional AV trade organization, launched the STEP (Sustainable Technology Environments Program) rating system specifically for technology equipment within a building. This program was implemented because InfoComm failed to get the US Green Building Council to consider AV equipment in their LEED certification program.  While STEP stands on its own the hope is that at some future point, if the program becomes widely used, it will be adopted in the LEED program with even wider applicability to the built environment.

Green Power in the AV industry typically means that there is data that needs to be displayed somewhere prominently in the building.  Many owners want to have a lobby or other web based display accessible to all that can let building occupants know, in real time, what the power consumption of the building is at that moment.  Traditionally this type of information has been the domain of the building information systems managed by the facility’s group within the respective organization.  Now, after successfully completely the sustainable design of their new building, owners want to show off, in real time, how well their facility operates.  They want some type of digital signage displays or the information available on a web portal for anyone in the building to view.

Another area of growing interest is integrating the AV systems into the building automation system (BAS).  Two options then become available: the BAS is used to shut off AV equipment when it is not in use; or the AV control system is used to provide an easily accessible user interface (that building users are already used to using) to view and in some cases control building power usage for lighting, HVAC, and other building systems.