Two-and-a-half years ago, when I was putting the finishing touches to the final chapter of my book manuscript, I sketched out ideas of how web-based conferencing solutions might be used to replace some face-to-face meetings in construction projects. At the time, I focused on the convenience aspect of such ‘net meetings’ and their value alongside construction collaboration applications, rather than how they might help reduce a project team’s carbon footprint.
In the past three months, I have used various tools to participate in meetings and seminars delivered over the web, including Glance, Live Meeting and WebEx. I mentioned this to Building magazine journalist and blogger Phil Clark when I met him recently and he suggested I write about the sustainability dimension as part of a review article for the recently launched Building Sustainability website. The article Virtual conferences analysed was published last week.
Phil also kindly forwarded a news release discussing research conducted for another conferencing vendor, Netviewer. Based on responses from 332 enterprise IT managers, the research found time and cost savings were regarded as the major benefits, with the ability to reduce travel requirements thereby cutting carbon emissions largely overlooked. Gary Taylor, managing director of sustainworld.com, is quoted:
“… over just the last three months we have saved a huge amount of otherwise unproductive travel time. In addition to that direct benefit, Netviewer helps us ‘walk the talk’ from an environmental point of view – we advise on sustainable construction and being able to minimise our own carbon footprint in such a cost effective way is a strong plus. Web conferencing and remote meetings are a simple way in which most businesses can improve their environmental performance.”