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July 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 7
Editorial Series Sponsorship

ClearOne — Putting the World on Greener Terms

By: Mark Child, Director of Product Marketing — Telephony, ClearOne (News - Alert)

“Going green”. It’s the hottest topic imaginable. I entered “going green” into my Google (News - Alert) search window and got 13,800,000 hits. The first page alone listed articles and tips from Fortune Magazine, BusinessWeek, Time, Forbes, NBC, the Washington Post, the World Wildlife Fund — even Oprah. We’re bombarded from every angle with screaming headlines about how fast the polar ice cap is melting, how much energy it takes to keep a light bulb burning, how to calculate your carbon footprint, and on, and on.

Is it important? Obviously. But what can I, personally, do about it?

Having worked in the technology sector for 20-plus years, my worldview is naturally skewed to all things high-tech. And a recent USA Today headline really caught my eye: “Want to save the planet? Stay home.” The author posed the argument that many of us are doing various things to help the planet. We take shorter showers, replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones, and even buy clothes made from recycled soda bottles. But the vast majority of us still drive our cars — alone — to work.

Apparently, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses is me! Yup, I’m one of the 76 percent of all Americans who drive — alone — an average of 25 minutes to my office. Then, when I get to work, I spend my day talking on the phone and emailing people who aren’t in my office. Many of them aren’t even in my country. Even the meetings I attend are often held in a conference room with people who are talking to me over a conference bridge from who-knows-where.

The energy-saving, compact fluorescent light bulb over my balding little head just went off. I could do all of that from home! I have a broadband connection, a laptop, a VoIP client—I even have a personal conferencing phone I can use for hands-free calls. So why don’t I work from home?

The work-from-home website estimates that only 4 percent of the U.S. workforce works from home. But their research shows that 40 percent of us have jobs that could be done from home. And if we did work from home, we’d save about 625 million barrels of oil every year; that amounts to roughly 80 percent of our annual Gulf Oil imports. On top of that, we could reduce greenhouse gases by 107 million metric tons of CO2, and save billions of dollars at the pump in the process. They say you could plant the entire face of the planet with windmills and not get that kind of benefit.

Okay, I should telecommute. I get that. But what about my business travel?

I had a lot of business travel last year. On average, I was flying somewhere (and back) twice a month! No wonder my dog barks at me when I walk in the door (we need to get reacquainted).

Not only am I pouring CO2 into the air from my car’s tailpipe, but I’m also contributing to the tons of CO2 those jets are producing.

Some pundits suggest that we’re experiencing a perfect storm of contributing factors that might help bring about the end of the “road warrior”. Everyone knows we’re in the middle of an economic downturn. And corporate travel is one of the first areas management will look at in order to cut expenses. We’re seeing fuel prices skyrocket and travel costs will have to increase to keep pace.

Airplane travel is tremendously unproductive. Add up the time it takes to get to the airport, check bags, get through security, wait for a delayed flight, wait for your luggage, pick up a rental car… Not only is it unproductive, it’s hard. I think the writing is on the wall: There will be a drastic reduction in business travel.

Besides, I need to reduce my carbon footprint. And if I eliminate five LA to New York trips this year, I can reduce my carbon footprint by as much as 4.25 tons.

So what’s the answer? For starters, I should work from home more often. And I need to use all of that technology that’s sitting on my desk. My CHAT 50 Conference Phone from ClearOne plugs right into my laptop’s USB port and lets me have a hands-free audio conference anywhere I have a broadband connection. I can use my VoIP softphone with my CHAT 50 and very easily have conversations with any number of customers, vendors, co-workers or friends, regardless of location. I can even use my CHAT 50 with my cell phone. And there are a lot of great online collaboration tools I can use to share presentations and documents while we’re on the call. Talk about productivity!

Sure, there will be times when a face-to-face meeting is still the best option. But tools like the high-definition conferencing products from ClearOne make it possible for me to be productive and green—all at the same time. I feel better already. IT

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