CDP makes business case for telepresence

Companies can cut carbon by 5.5m tonnes and save $19bn by 2020

Businesses can cut carbon emissions and save money by substituting business travel with telepresence, a high-definition videoconferencing technology, a study for the Carbon Disclosure Project has found.

The study was conducted by analysts Verdantix using data from 15 large companies, including Accenture, Aviva, EMC and Microsoft, that are early adopters of telepresence. The information was used to build a forecast model to assess the benefits of the technology for an individual company and the wider economy.

An individual business implementing four telepresence rooms can reduce its CO2 emissions by 2,271 tonnes over five years, the equivalent of the annual emissions from over 400 vehicles.

For the wider economy, UK and US businesses with annual revenues of more than $1bn can cut carbon emissions by nearly 5.5 million tonnes by 2020 by deploying a total of almost 10,000 telepresence rooms. These cuts are equivalent of the annual emissions of over one million vehicles.

These large businesses could also save a total of almost $19bn by 2020. The payback on investment can be as little as 15 months.

The study suggests that telepresence can also help speed decision making, improve productivity and improve employees work-life balance.

Sak Nayagam, head of climate change at Accenture, said: “Since adopting telepresence, Accenture has expanded its network to include more than 50 telepresence rooms across the globe. The travel saved through their use would have accounted for 6,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally from November 2007 through August 2009. For us, it is not so much about eliminating travel but travelling smarter and maximising the time and value of our workforce.”

The recession and high oil prices have also pushed companies to consider ways of saving money by reducing business travel (ENDS Report 405, October 2008).

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