Your own business travel may not seem capable of creating a huge global impact, but when you multiply your own business travel patterns by the millions of people who travel for business every year, it becomes clear that there is a profound impact from travel on the environment.  To reduce travel -- and CO2 emissions -- advanced videoconferencing, such as Hewlett Packard's video collaboration products and services, provide a powerful alternative. These solutions deliver environmental and financial benefits for companies while simultaneously allowing easy and critical collaboration among team members working in a global environment.

The environmental toll of travel

Being green sometimes comes with the assumption of increasing cost, but videoconferencing can actually reduce cost over time as travel is reduced. In addition, productivity is increased, since team members do not lose valuable work time in transit.  For those of you who travel a lot, you know what the mental and physical toll of travel can be. Using advanced videoconferencing, those tolls are removed and organizations can significantly reduce their carbon footprint while increasing their business results through extended face-to-face collaboration.

Some examples:

  • A single round-trip flight for three passengers from London to Tokyo generates the same level of greenhouse gas emissions as an HP videoconferencing studio located in Europe for an entire year. (Editor's note: similar statistics can be found from studies conducted by other vendors, such as Cisco.)
  • The "average" round-trip business flight, in fact, generates more than 0.91 tons of CO2 emissions per person for the air travel portion alone
  • Between April 2007 and March 2009, HP studios at both HP and customer facilities have saved over 66,000 metric tons CO2e.
  • This is equivalent to 880 tanker trucks worth of gasoline, or to 12,000 U.S. passenger vehicles being taken off the road for one year.

A study completed by the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) and WWF concluded that if 20 percent of business travel in the European Union were replaced by telepresence solutions, 25 million tons of CO2 would be saved annually by 2010 -- and that's just in the EU!

Increased adoption of visual collaboration

As companies seek to cut travel, increase productivity and improve real-time collaboration, there will be growing momentum for high definition videoconferencing -- both at the immersive studio level and at the desktop.

The growth in HD videoconferencing rooms, a billion-dollar market projected by Gartner to grow at 20% through 2013, and the emergence of HD webcams continue to raise expectations for desktop video quality, especially when desktops call into room-based telepresence meetings (see Gartner, Inc.'s "Game Changers for Desktop Video," R. F. Mason, G. Johnson, 10 November 2009).

Utilizing visual collaboration studios or advanced standalone units featuring one screen frees users from the limitations of traditional videoconferencing. With this new technology, the connection is reliable, the picture is crystal-clear, and the participants can be life-sized -- giving the feeling that the participants really are in the same room. Those affects have led to an increased use of the technology and related solutions, when compared to use of traditional videoconferencing within a company.

Organizations may be hesitant to choose the environmentally friendly route for fear of sacrificing the effectiveness or quality that face-to-face communication offers. However, there are advanced videoconferencing technologies that recreate the same desired real-life connections.

The reward is great -- companies that do adopt this form of visual collaboration can cut travel by 25 to 50 percent between locations.  An initial $200,000 to $500,000 expenditure for a two-city deployment (depending on the system purchased) can pay for itself in less than one year.

The high-quality visual experience and ease of use offered by today's high-end conferencing systems make them a good alternative to travel and allow companies to adopt new ways to collaborate, while saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.


Darren Podrabsky is Marketing Manager, HP Video Collaboration Solutions.

Greentech Media welcomes submissions from companies in the green technology companies, but publishes them at its discretion.


Methodology: HP Halo studios were used for a total of 263,000 hours between April 2007 and March 2009. This interval covers a time period of early and incremental adoption of Halo rooms, thus the calculated CO2 saved is a conservative estimate. Assuming 35% of meetings avoid travel (depending on the company's travel and meeting policy), and 1.4 persons per meeting are able to avoid traveling, as meetings frequently require travel for more than one participant, this corresponds to 99,180 trips avoided over two years. With an average of 1,609 miles per round-trip (the average of all short-, medium- and long-haul business trips at HP), and a CO2 footprint per mile of 199g CO2e (see, this results in a net emissions savings of 63,554 metric tons CO2e.

Each avoided trip also saves CO2 from car travel (to/from airport at both ends), resulting in an additional 3,483 metric tons CO2e saving on average.

On the other hand, HP Halo studios were responsible for approximately 675 metric tons CO2e from electricity use over that time period (based on a global average of 0.510kg/kWh).

The net total CO2 emissions savings from all HP Halo studios over this two-year time period was therefore 66,362 metric tons CO2e.