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Reduce Carbon Emissions with Video Conferences

written by: SemTeK•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 8/12/2010

Just add up all those trips we all make to clients for a simple meeting. Huge amounts of CO2 are emitted as we travel to our clients and back. If we even replace half of these meetings by using video-conferencing, the environment would be a lot better off. How much better? read on to find out.

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    Using Video Conferencing Instead of Traveling the Globe

    Last year, a colleague of mine had to go to a meeting with a client. Nothing unusual there, except for one little detail, the meeting was on the other side of the planet. My colleague took a flight from Amsterdam to New York for a meeting that took only a few hours, only to fly back the morning after complaining that the meeting was a waste of time. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Many people travel the globe for something as simple as a meeting. So, what is so important that we have to go there in person? Sure, face to face communication is pleasant and it allows us to actually shake hands and "have lunch", but at what price?

    This problem can be solved quite easily, by just looking at some technologies that might not have made it into the standard office just yet, but can be found in many households. Take webcams for instance, I've played many videogames where I could see the other players in their living rooms, often on other sides of the globe. Video-conferencing might not be as customer-intimate as your CEO would like, but it beats flying several thousand kilometers for a single meeting.

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    Calculating CO2 Emissions from Business Trips

    Let's make a little calculation (note: for these calculations, I'm using the various CO2 and energy calculators available online). That trip from Amsterdam to New York and back, produced about 1385 kg of CO2 emissions. This is equal to a energy consumption of 5883 KWH. That's about the amount of energy that six people would consume in a year. If this meeting was done as a video conference, that flight wasn't necessary. In fact, I would have to video conference for about two and a half years, non-stop, to consume a similar amount of energy. Two and a half year worth of energy, wasted in less than the 36 hours it took my colleague to get to New York and back.

    Even for meetings with "local" clients, that only require a two hour drive, it would pay of. Let's say I have to visit a client about 100 kilometers away. That trip will produce about 25 kilograms of CO2 emissions. That would leverage to about half a month worth of non-stop video conferencing.

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    Video Conferences are Worth It

    In conclusion, I can only state that it's absolutely worth looking into video-conferencing tools for the office, it really can make quite a difference. Not just for those meetings across the globe, but also for those with clients only a few kilometers away. Alternative forms of communication with clients, like this, are vital for a greener future and can reduce CO2 emissions enormously.