Wednesday, 26 June 2019

‘Carbon Neutral’ by 2050, what does it mean for AV?

As the Government reveals plans to be ‘net zero’ in the near future, how do we, the Hospitality industry, help our guests and delegates to achieve this?  More specifically for this blog, how does AV play a part in helping to achieve this goal.

Cancel all meetings that require travel
We could argue that all meetings that require travel should be cancelled and we should all collaborate via conference call, Skype and Webex.  That’s possible, but meetings can be more successful with effective human interaction.  Can we therefore use technology to create local hubs and then join them to other local and national hubs with video conferencing? This in turn will still link up our teams whilst eliminating the big travelling piece of the puzzle, which will certainly have an impact when long distance car and especially air travel is removed from the equation.

Why are we not doing this already?
Historically, video conferencing always needed the same technology at every connecting venue.  If your local business centre or hotel technology did not match the venue you were trying to connect with, it was just not feasible to conduct the meeting in this way.

However, with the advent of Skype and hosted services such as Zoom, Jabber & Webex, the ability to connect and make a call is now available at our fingertips.  There is however still an issue to overcome.  If there are six or more people in a room, it is not practical to gather around a single laptop or phone for a meeting in this way, and having multiple devices on the call in one room also makes no sense.

What we need to offer as Hospitality venues, is the ability for teams to come together in comfortable surroundings and then to simply be able to connect to a device which allows a big screen conference, with clear audio and multiple cameras, enabling them to connect with other teams and remote workers in different locations.  This kind of facility allows everyone to feel fully involved and share team spirit without impacting in a detrimental way on the planet.

CGA Integration can deliver AV systems now that allow this to happen.  Delegates own devices running hosted services such as Skype, Jabber and Webex have the ability to connect and share calls on their device with a room of colleagues, via big screens, built-in microphones, cameras and speakers.

Ensuring Energy Efficient AV
So once the technology to enable video conference calling and BYOD (bring your own device) is in place, what can be done to further improve your venues carbon footprint?

AV Racks
Historically, each area in a Hospitality venue had a little AV rack with an amp and a CD player so each area, be it the bar, the restaurant or the lobby, could control its own sound.  Each of these racks not only took up lots of ‘back of house’ space, but as the units ran, they became hot and required fans to cool them.  These fans, in turn became clogged, got hotter and needed to run more to achieve the same cooling power.  All of this resulted in climbing energy consumption and costs.

Now most sound systems are centralised, or if not, they have the opportunity to be so.  Placing the AV hardware in your main IT racks in a sealed environment well away from both customers and staff works on a number of levels.  An out of the way location means less interaction, resulting in more consistent sound quality delivery.  In addition, there will be less airborne dust and probably cooler air which lets your AV hardware run less hard.  This means cooling fans need to run less, and as a result they become less clogged and are cheaper and more energy efficient to run.  To further improve on this efficiency, modern systems also have timers in them so that hardware can be placed into a low energy or ‘sleep’ mode when not in use and woken at the touch of a button or when music is sensed.  If your AV system isn’t quite there yet, making a few changes can help you to maintain or improve your AV standards, saving you both energy and money in the long term.

LED lighting
We all know that if well deployed, moving to LED lighting can save you money.  However, it needs to be done by a professional, otherwise it can create challenges to your electrical installation and actually become more costly.

Start by thinking outside the box.  For example, if you are fitting new exterior lights or even perimeter lights around and inside your events spaces, why not fit them with RGBW heads in?  This will enable you to change the colour of these lights to reflect the corporate colour of any delegates hiring out your events space, or you can add to the atmosphere by flooding a room with colour that lends itself to a particular occasion.  With this planning, you not only gain the extra benefit of a more flexible event space, but the carbon footprint of any events company being employed will be reduced, as additional lighting will not need to be shipped in and out of your venue.

In fact, this approach can be taken one step further and be a strong argument for investing in installed, Eco-friendly AV systems.  By moving to this, you can considerably reduce the carbon footprint of ‘third party’ hire companies driving AV hardware to and from your venue, either for your own use or for use during external hire events.  Having said this, it should be noted that it is unlikely that you will completely eliminate the need for third party AV.  There will always be corporate clients who have to use their own approved events company, and whilst their technology may be older and less flexible than yours, it is an area where events company make their money and so might not be fully avoided!

Projection
This area has also moved forward environmentally with the dawn of laser phosphor light sources.  No longer should you need to call out engineers to change projector lamps every 1,000 - 2,000 hours and energy should not be wasted by projectors which emit enough heat energy to boil water for the after meeting coffees and teas! Laser phosphor light sources, which are now the standard for projection, not only run cooler and quieter, but they have a light source life with 20,000 - 50,000 hours of life (to half brightness).  This hugely reduces the need for an engineer call out to change a lamp which in turn reduces both carbon footprint and disruption to meeting room spaces.

Remote support
Finally, it's worth remembering the advances in remote support.  New AV systems are now fully accessible remotely.  Just like with your IT system, AV engineers should be able to connect and look at most hardware and diagnose the vast majority of problems from their offices, without the need to travel.  So if there is a problem that they need to fix, when they do visit your venue they should have the correct hardware or spare parts with them.  They will not need to make a journey just to investigate the problem you were experiencing and then a further journey to repair it! This reduces the number of callouts required and halves the carbon footprint.

So being smart with your AV can help the move towards being carbon neutral and save you money, so why not make that change today for a better tomorrow.

CGA Integration … Making hospitality sound great!