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‚Green companies’ seeking carbon neutral status are driving a new trend to virtual meetings and video conferencing solutions, according to a South African leader in the field.

Imago Communications SA says the potential to cut carbon emissions relating to car and air travel has turned environmentally friendly corporates into big fans of ‚face-time without travel time’.

High quality, high definition video conferencing puts executives, experts and sales staff face to face with colleagues and clients without adding to a company’s carbon footprint, explains Imago managing director Clint Cronj√©.

‚Our business volumes for video conferencing implementation show significant growth across all industries,‚ adds Cronj√©. ‚But we’ve also picked up a trend within a trend ‚ companies engaged in carbon footprint measurement and reduction are among the most energetic adopters of this technology.

‚The reason is that travel, especially air travel, adds massively to a company’s carbon footprint. Cut the movement of people and goods from A to B and you reduce costs while cutting greenhouse gases.‚

To work in partnership with green business, Imago has created a return-on-investment tool that measures both cost and carbon savings.

The ROI awareness-builder aggregates typical CO¬≤ savings per same-day trip, overnight trip or weeklong trip ‚ vital information for companies engaged in carbon data collation.

Imago says on a Johannesburg-Cape Town round trip about 1.08 tons of carbon will be dumped into the atmosphere. On the Johannesburg-Durban run, an estimated 0,42 tons will be discharged.

Imago’s multinational clients also expect data on international flights. The company’s statistics indicate the carbon impact of a Johannesburg-London flight is 5.16 tons. For Johannesburg-New York it’s 7.2 tonnes.

Video conferencing infrastructure is increasingly deployed to multiple sites.

Says Cronj√©: ‚Multinationals drove a lot of early installations to enable Johannesburg or Cape Town to talk to New York or London. Increasingly, local companies are driving the technology into all metropolitan centres in South Africa, regional offices and even branches.

‚The more extensive the video link, the bigger the potential saving. Multiple centres can be hooked up without any quality problems. High definition puts you up close and personal, giving you one-on-one rapport.‚

He believes ‚green growth’ of the sector is only just getting into its stride.

‚South Africa’s top companies only recently joined the global Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP),‚ says Cronj√©. ‚Many are still in the data collation phase. Monitoring will be followed by active steps to limit the carbon footprint ‚ which should lead to a further uptick in video conferencing demand.‚

CDP membership ensures high awareness of the carbon-cutting benefits of ‚telepresence’ technology.

A recent CDP report, The Telepresence Revolution, estimated that application of this technology by US and UK business could cut CO² emissions by nearly 5,5 million metric tons while securing financial benefits of nearly US$19 billion by 2020.

‚The proposition is win-win,‚ says Cronj√©, ‚carbon savings plus cost savings. This explains why financial directors are becoming carbon-footprint crusaders and work closely with us when scoping a project. ‚

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