NPi Sustainable Practices
The primary function of an A/V Production company is to provide and operate audio, video, lighting and other related equipment for live events. The inherent nature of the industry requires the consumption of large amounts of energy. The environmental impact of our industry is largely overlooked because we are not a formally recognized industry by either the government or private sector. Audio Visual Production is rather a blend of the entertainment and high-tech industries.
Equipment is probably the most important factor in a sustainable Audio Visual Production company. Using modern technology generally ensures reduced energy consumption. A periodic review of equipment allows for a comparison of our existing inventory with current energy-saving devices available. Factors to consider when we evaluate equipment include; life span, energy star compliance and power consumption.
Recently, NPi Audio Visual Solutions made the switch from Plasma to LCD technology when several studies showed a marked increase in life span and simultaneous decrease in energy usage. Many manufacturers have found their LCD monitors to have a 60,000 hour life span while plasma monitors only offer 20,000 to 30,000 hours. When compounded with a near 50% reduction in power requirements, choosing LCD over Plasma was an obvious answer.
With a demanding increase in performance and decrease in size, audio reinforcement systems have become a key part of today’s event production. The use of speakers that have a better sound dispersion and wider frequency range are becoming more popular. Using self powered speakers allow us to use less energy than conventional speaker systems that require separate amplifiers, which cause overheating and consume far more electricity. Digital Sound Processors (DSP’s), effects processors and digital equalizers now allow for more diversity and flexibility, which saves on the amount of gear needed and less weight during transport. Even microphones can have greater sustainability. Decreasing the amount wireless microphones used gains internal structure, uses less battery power and, in turn, saves on battery disposal.
Lighting is a key function of any Audio Visual Production. There are multiple facets of green lighting, the most important aspect being the switch to LED lighting. While NPi still uses some specialty incandescent lighting instruments, a transition to LED lighting from traditional incandescent produces a remarkable improvement in sustainability with minimal effort. An LED instrument offers a lifespan of 60,000 hours! The upfront cost is slightly higher but there is no sacrifice in light quality and the life span is 40x that of an incandescent; requiring less solid waste, less manufacturing waste and generous improvement in sustainability. In a traditional setting, most people are familiar with the heat of stage lighting. To cool even a small room containing this intense heat source requires substantial amounts of additional energy. In direct contrast, our LED lighting has an extremely low thermal output. This translates to a reduction in external cooling needs, thereby incrementally decreasing energy usage.
Typical “Leko” lighting uses up to 6 times the required power as our LED lighting instruments. Our careful planning and event design will ensure that the proper amount of lighting is used for your event.
Video is the final Audio Visual component. Most large projectors draw substantial amounts of electricity. Our projection inventory features energy-saving efficiencies such as lamp power switching and auto-standby mode. A common industry procedure dictates that for the duration of a meeting, video projectors are not to be turned off for fear of jeopardizing the time and labor-intensive initial setup. A 5000 lumen video projector uses 770W of power. For a three day event, one projector alone would use 55 Kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s enough electricity to power a CFL bulb 24 hours a day for over 5 months! NPi has made the conscious decision to purchase projectors with a “standby mode” using only 10W of power. Assuming eight hours of active operation per day, this reduces the projector’s total energy consumption to approx 19kWh, resulting in a 35% reduction.
When equipment reaches the end of its life cycle, its proper disposal is imperative. Electronic waste represents 2 percent of America's
trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste. While not federally enforced, many states have banned the disposal of electronics in a landfill. If dumped into a landfill, A/V equipment such as projectors and monitors can release devastatingly harmful substances like lead and mercury. NPi’s equipment recycling program not only reduces health and environmental risks, but also decreases solid waste production. Recycling e-waste is the responsible answer to disposing of Audio Visual equipment. We also reuse via donation to schools or other such programs that are in need of equipment for educational purposes. We continually reuse packaging materials sent from manufacturers for our own shipping needs. The reduction, reuse and recycling of office waste and equipment can be of great impact in improving sustainability.
Recycling on a show site is a challenge to some A/V Production Companies, but not NPi. With the constant change of venue, working with sub-contractors and conforming to a venue’s unique features, there are many obstacles for on-site sustainability. Innumerable batteries are used in a single show. Reliable battery performance is critical when considering their use in such devices as wireless microphones. For this reason, all batteries are generally replaced on a daily basis, despite most of them still having a substantial life. Rechargeable batteries have proven unreliable as there is no method to ensure they are fully charged each night. Waste from batteries is environmentally harmful and their disposal is regulated in many states.
With the hundreds of batteries wasted after many of our events, NPi implemented a simple reuse and recycling plan. At the conclusion of each event, our technical crew places all used batteries in our “battery box”. The box is placed in a prominent spot within our warehouse to facilitate its use. The crew is allowed to take the batteries home for their own personal use at the end of the event. Considering the number of toys, musical devices and similar equipment requiring costly batteries, this practice provides incentive to use the box and demonstrates goodwill towards crew members. Any leftover batteries are then recycled in compliance with state regulation. The final result is that all of the batteries are recycled or reused.
Another commonly overlooked opportunity for reuse of materials are flip charts. Presenters frequently use 2-3 pages of a chart and the remainder is disposed of (and often into the trash rather than recycling). These charts are easily collected at the end of the event and stored for use at the next function. We encourage the use of Whiteboards, which reduces waste and allows for a greater visual impact.
For sub-rentals and subcontracted labor, all attempts are made to identify local sources to minimize shipping and travel.
When it is necessary to ship equipment, we utilize shipping/freight service providers with prominent policies and practices that enforce sustainability (low-emissions, alternative fuels). Major shipping services such as FedEx and UPS have such policies in place.
Our own internal fleet opts for flex-fuel systems in our vehicles.