Over the last few years more people have started to advocate the green benefits of video conferencing, however we continue to tread with caution. Projects like the How Green is my Videoconference? and the JISC Greening Events Project have looked in more detail at both the real benefits and the possible negative aspects of such practices. Systematic responses like the rebound effect can sometimes offset the beneficial effects of new video conferencing technologies. However video conferences remain a much greener alternative to long-distance travel and the technologies used are improving all the time.
Rashed Khan is an advocate of video conferencing. He graduated from the University of Bradford with an Msc in Software Engineering where his dissertation involved a large amount of research on video conferencing as well as RSS. Rashed is now working part time as a web developer and is also involved in marketing on behalf of Video Conferencing and Telepresence experts Lifesize. He has written a guest blog post for us on why video conferencing is the green choice.
Video conferencing not only saves money by eliminating travel costs; it also reduces the harmful emissions and fossil fuel use that are necessary for business conference travel. By using the power of the Internet for clear, sharp video and voice transmission, video conferencing allows people from across the country or even across the world to meet and conduct real-time, face-to-face discussions from the convenience of their own offices at a mutually agreed upon time. Often, that time is convenient for all participants in the discussion no matter their own time zones.
This means that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars in travel and lodging costs are saved, as the price of a video conferencing session often amounts to less than that of even an automobile trip from a neighbouring American state. Moreover, video conferencing uses only small amounts of electricity, as relatively little power is needed to maintain an Internet connection and a computer during the video conference. This contrasts remarkably with the huge amount of fossil fuel that is expended when participants in a traditional conference have to travel to a central location by car, train or airplane.
In addition, Internet communications, including Video Conferencing, do not emit any significant levels of greenhouse gases or other pollutants into the air. Needless to say, this is not the case with any form of travel in any vehicle that is powered by fossil fuel. Therefore, relying upon video conferencing for business discussions, or even for family reunions, minimizes harm to the environment.
Video conferencing also eliminates the need for arranging lodging for conference participants. The budget for lodging associated with a traditional conference can easily equal twenty or thirty times the cost of a video conference.
Since everything which is discussed in a video conference is saved and downloaded, there is no need for the huge amounts of paper that are often given out at traditional conferences. This saves printing costs and also is beneficial to the environment. Less paper means less waste in our landfills, and relying on Video Conferencing servers for saving the proceeding of the conference also eliminates the need for disks and other non-biodegradable materials that are often distributed at traditional conferences. In addition to this, the video can be saved using the H.264 video format which drastically reduces the file size of any content that was recorded since H.264 is capable of compressing files up to 50% more than some of the older file formats.
The introduction of HD Video conferencing has enabled video to be viewed in crystal clear High Definition and many organisations now offer full 1080P video conferencing which results in an amazingly life like experience. Sceptics would often refute the use of HD video conferencing by claiming that a high amount of bandwidth is required in order to be able to transmit a High Definition signal which would prove too costly but this is no longer the case since the H.264 video format allows a HD signal to be transmitted by using only 768kbps of data. This is relatively small compared to what today’s broadband internet connections are capable of.
Video conferencing is arguably the most effective way to gather large amounts of people and allow them to have a face to face conversation without the need to travel many miles. As technology becomes more advanced, video conferencing solutions are becoming cheaper than ever which is bringing video conferencing to the masses and more people are realising the financial and environmental benefits of video conferencing as a tool to communicate to people all over the World in the comfort of their own home or office.