With air-related travel by Ceres’ staff doubling to more than 475,000 miles last year, Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, writes in a Worldchanging article that Ceres “could buy carbon credits, of course, but why not cut to the chase and replace unnecessary flying with conference calls or, better yet, video conferences – which would allow us to meet face to face without being face to face?”
Some companies are moving in the direction of video conferencing. Microsoft is already saving $50 million a year by deploying its “Office Live Meeting” conference service, according to Lubber, and State Street Corp. has invested $4 million in video and audio conferencing equipment in the last year alone.
But are most companies ready to give up face-to-face meetings? According to a ZDNet UK article, Chris Lindsay, BT’s general manager of broadband, VoIP and software services, said that acceptance of video conferencing would eventually come about as a result of concern for the environment and the development of new social norms but, despite the fact, BT does offer videoconferencing applications, demand remains low for now.
BT itself claims to have reduced its carbon footprint by 97,000 tons of CO2 per year, that’s 15 percent of its CO2 use, by using phone conferences and videoconferencing to cut back on staff travel for meetings.
“When we talk to customers, if they’ve got an audio conference, whiteboards and shared applications, then the addition of video over and above that doesn’t add tremendous amounts to their experience,” said Lindsay. “Customers are not seeing the increased benefit from having the visual piece over and above the audio.”
Web and audio conferencing software company iLinc Communications says that customers, partners and employees participating in its iReduce program have saved a combined total of one billion pounds of CO2 by avoiding business travel.
Second Life may also have a future as a way for companies to reduce business travel.