Posting in Architecture
Architectural firm designs a better sustainability message by embracing videoconferencing technology.
There is a distinction between green IT and technology for green initiatives. This entry is concerned with the latter, specifically the push by Australian architectural design firm Woods Bagot to get smarter not just about the cost of doing business but also about how it treats the planet.
First, some background: Woods Bagot is pretty large as architectural firms go, with upwards of 700 people who are dispersed all over the world in offices from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi to San Francisco. The really important thing in this context is the fact that Woods Bagot is an extremely collaborative firm, says Ivan Ross, COO and director. That is, the company used to shuttle experts all over the world to share ideas. At one point, its annual tab for airline flights was well in excess of $1 million (doesn't matter whether that number is U.S. or Australian dollars, it's a big number for a company of this size).
Ross says videconferencing technology from Tandberg was instrumental in helping the company not only cut those costs but also shore up its sustainability message, which has been a credibility boost with clients. After all, it is sort of hard to advise someone to pay for a green building or design concept if your own house isn't in order. "When it came down to it, a lot of the focus was on the broader strategic alignment in terms of having a focus on reducing our carbon footprint and so forth," he says.
All of the organization's design studios now have at least one unit, and Woods Bagot also is investing in desktop units as the technology improves. The firm also has started an internal "green challenge" to inspire its employees to think of other ways they can measurably reduce the carbon profile of individual studios.
Feb 17, 2010
I'm surprised you didn't address the direct/indirect impacts of going virtual, especially when the subject readily expresses "investing in desktop units" -- I'm sure the full tech investment to make virtual happen doesn't stop there. There's certainly a green impact to producing, delivering, powering, and maintaining that technology. I'd like to think it's still less than the carbon footprint of travel, but the utter omission of discussion around this begs the question. Virtual is great, but how does the virtual footprint stack up against traditional meetings?