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The aim of this project is to assess the environmental credentials of videoconferencing, a technology that is often described as ‘green’. The research will verify whether the quoted environmental benefits are realistic and accurate when compared with the alternative, travel.

How ‘green’ was my videoconference?

Overview

Videoconferencing is often described as a ‘green’ technology, particularly by those who wish to promote its use or sell videoconferencing equipment, but how much consideration is given to its environmental impact? We suspect that figures quoted often demonstrate how much CO2 has been saved through travel avoidance without taking into account the energy consumed by the videoconference itself. This project will investigate the environmental impact of videoconferencing equipment ownership and operation to provide metrics that can be used to more accurately estimate any savings; these metrics will be useful for planning and for environmental accounting. The project will monitor the energy consumption of a selection of videoconferencing equipment and related peripherals and will also analyse real videoconferences to assess as accurately as possible the actual travel reduction (if any).

Aims and objectives

The aim of this project is to assess the environmental credentials of videoconferencing, a technology that is often described as ‘green’. The research will verify whether the quoted environmental benefits are realistic and accurate when compared with the alternative, travel.

Our objectives are:

  • to measure the power consumption of various types of videoconferencing equipment and produce a comparison matrix;
  • to assess whether sufficient environmental data exists to quantify the total environmental cost of ownership of videoconferencing equipment;
  • to analyse a range of actual videoconferences that have taken place to clearly document how much travel has been avoided, if any;
  • to investigate and document the travel plans of appropriate representatives and to assess how much travel could be avoided if videoconferencing was used as an alternative.

Project methodology

The lead researcher on this project is Geoff Constable, who has considerable experience in all aspects of videoconferencing. Geoff has been a Support Officer at the WVN Support Centre since its inception in 2000.

The research will involve designing a test environment and measuring the power consumption of a range of videoconferencing devices when in standby and in use.

The project will also involve interviewing videoconference participants and analysing data to ascertain how much travel and by what means has actually been avoided; this will be contrasted with widely available software tools to assess their accuracy.

Anticipated outputs and outcomes

The project will produce a set of metrics that will be able to be used by managers and administrators to assess more accurately the environmental impact of videoconferencing. The figures will be useful for planning or for environmental accounting and will include an analysis of actual travel reduction versus assumed reduction.

The research will highlight whether particular videoconferencing systems or peripherals are particularly efficient or inefficient in their power consumption and will provide recommendations for minimising consumption.

Technology/Standards used

This research will consider standards based videoconferencing equipment compliant with the ITU H.323 and H.320 recommendations.

Project Staff

Project Manager

Philip Davison
Swansea University
Welsh Video Network
+44 (0) 1792 513318
+44 (0) 1792 295851
p.davison@swansea.ac.uk

Project Team

Geoff Constable
Aberystwyth University
Welsh Video Network
+44 (0) 1792 513345
+44 (0) 1970 828357
ccc@aber.ac.uk

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Summary
Start date
18 January 2010
End date
31 December 2010
Funding programme
Greening ICT programme
Strand
Technical Innovation
Project website
Lead institutions
Swansea University
Partner institutions
Aberystwyth University
Committees
Topic