Crestron is going full speed ahead with its sustainability initiatives — and part of that plan includes a partnership with the nonprofit SAVe, Sustainability in AV!

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At Crestron Masters 2024, we introduced to an audience of over 950 people the importance Sustainability in AV for Crestron.

In 2015, all 193 member nations of the United Nations unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — and at the heart of this agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals are broad, including everything from climate action to the eradication of poverty.

At first blush, taking stock of all 17 — and thinking about real-world solutions that achieve those goals — may seem overwhelming. But, as Kitty van der Heijden of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated bluntly in a discussion at Ledin University late last year, “Calling achieving the SDGs by the end of this decade as mission impossible is not an acceptable answer.”

So, what’s a company — or a government or even a single person — to do?

The answer needs to be “whatever we can.”

But where to start?

Make a Plan

“The first thing you’ve got to do is make a plan,” says Michael Rogers, Crestron’s senior sustainability program specialist. The beginnings of that plan can be informed by things that you’re already doing — and looking at how a company aligns with the SDGs can provide a pretty solid baseline. “We have a code of conduct for our suppliers, for example,” he says. “Are we sourcing materials from businesses that are acting ethically, morally, sustainably — and are taking their own steps to reduce waste? The issue then becomes tracking those suppliers — it’s been a manual process.”

Until now, that is. Crestron has partnered with a software company that tracks a broad variety of metrics, including supplier assessments. “They’re also helping us understand exactly what our carbon footprint is and how we can best reduce it,” says Rogers.

As he’s working through the plan, Rogers is realizing there are more positives baked into the way Crestron does business. “Making reliable things that don’t break — that’s what we do,” he notes, and it’s an excellent illustration of how to help meet the goal of SDG 12: “Responsible consumption and production.” The less stuff that gets thrown out, the better.

Check out the full article here!


Crestron has also become a Sustaining Sponsor for SAVe (Sustainability in AV). According to President and Founder Christina De Bono, “SAVe is an all-volunteer, US-based 501c3 organization. Our mission is to bring stakeholders together in the AV industry to do our part in taking concerted action to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals.” Established in 2022, SAVe just held its first global conference in mid-March to educate and inspire like-minded members of the industry (more on that in a moment).

De Bono has the bona fides: She’s president of the AV integration firm ClearTech, a position she’s held for the last half of her 30-year-long career. Additionally, she says, “I’ve also been involved with community organizations that really are on the front lines of addressing issues of poverty, inequality, environmental, and climate-related issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities.”

De Bono is joined in her mission by SAVe co-founder (and ClearTech CTO) Joe Perez, who has 25-plus years under his belt in the industry. “I'm also on the Emerging Technologies Committee with NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association) as well as their DEI Action Council and their Ignite program, which helps get our youth into the AV industry,” he says.

Curbing E-Waste

The impetus for founding SAVe is the growing awareness that the issue of e-waste — among other aspects of the AV industry — needs to be addressed immediately. “We're going to be generating over 90 million metric tons of e-waste by 2030, the year that we are supposed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and the vast majority of it goes into landfills and dumps. Less than 20% is actually officially recycled,” says De Bono. That’s why one of the core initiatives of SAVe is the SAVe: A Second Life program, which focuses on keeping products out of those landfills. “Is the equipment repairable? Can it be used in another facility, such as a school or nonprofit?” says Perez.

“Additionally, with SAVe: A Second Life, we've also started the SAVe AV Design Committee where we really try to get AV manufacturers, AV consultants, systems engineers, and technicians to implement best practices — down to producing fewer black boxes,” he notes. Some questions Perez offers for corporate self-reflection include: What does the customer actually need? Can you streamline a product to perform multiple functions and create more “all-in-one” solutions so you’re creating fewer total devices? “I think a great example of this kind of thinking is the Crestron DigitalMedia Presentation System Switcher, which reduces the number of components and cabling needed for a solution,” says Perez.

That awareness doesn’t stop at the factory, though. “We’re asking both installers and manufacturers to think about every aspect of a system, to look at everything from heat dissipation, daylight harvesting, configuration of on/off timers for equipment, as well as the number of cables they need,” says Perez. “We’re talking all the way down to the zip ties — if we can find a reusable product for that installation, then that's what we're going to lead with.”

Software and Shipping

Fewer black boxes, of course, mean less packaging. “All of our new products are designed with eco-friendly packaging materials in mind, and plastic use is minimized to the absolute best of our abilities,” says Rogers. “When plastics are the only options, we substitute with environmentally sustainable materials such as recyclable or bio-based plastics and paper.” Crestron also specifies packing materials that are certified, compostable, environmentally sustainable, and made from US-grown corn and ocean-bound plastics.

The downstream effects continue: Fewer boxes mean a need for less space in a container and reducing shipping volume nets a reduction in emissions from transportation. The awareness of energy consumption as a green solution extends to the physical plant, notes Rogers: “We’re committed to the reduction of onsite power consumption by incorporating Crestron’s energy-saving products and solutions into our own facilities.” The strategy includes utilizing natural sources of energy via light harvesting and control features of the Crestron ecosystem.

Another aspect of sustainable AV design is something Crestron has been well aware of: “If we can create devices with software that can be updated regularly and reliably, that will eliminate some of the need for new hardware,” says Rogers. “Designing with longevity in mind is a key contribution to the circular economy.” (The “circular economy” is defined as “an economic system based on the reuse and regeneration of materials or products.”)

Learn more about SAVe (Sustainability in AV)

A Call for Leaders

All of these ideas — and a great many more — were discussed in depth at the first SAVe Conference, held March 14 and 15 on the UCLA campus. The conference, titled “A Call for Leaders,” was just that. While Crestron led as the conference’s largest sponsor, the other companies supporting this mission are a who’s-who of the industry, including Microsoft, Sony, Shure, Legrand — the list goes on. The big players are keenly aware of their responsibilities — not to mention the demands they’re seeing from both customers and governments.

“Each of these companies made it clear that they understood the scope of the problem and that we all need to work together to find industry-wide solutions,” says Rogers. “I heard people say things such as, ‘Competition has been thrown out the window when it comes to achieving these goals. What kind of future do we want for our industry? What kind of future do we want for our companies?’ This is an opportunity for us to address these challenges together and achieve our sustainability goals faster.”

The team from SAVe has an offer for Crestron and any other company that’s interested: A two-day training event that the nonprofit brings to a company’s physical HQ. “The conference included a teaser of what that workshop looks like,” says Rogers. One of the core messages of the workshop is that all 17 of the UN SDGs are interconnected. “You can't solve poverty without solving inequality,” Rogers explains. “You can't solve climate change without addressing clean energy.”

The Time is Now

Beyond good corporate citizenship, there are bottom-line benefits to implementing sustainable practices: Saving energy means saving money. Reducing packaging can further reduce costs. And US-based companies that intend to serve a global market need to implement these practices if they intend to sell their wares in countries with stringent regulations regarding sustainability. “More and more customers are demanding this, too,” says Rogers.

De Bono further notes that our role as stewards of the planet is on the line — what, after all, are we leaving for our kids? “We're facing problems and challenges that are becoming more and more irreversible unless we take urgent action,” says De Bono. “There are systemic changes that are needed to have a world that's going to serve civilization in the future.”

“I know that's a very profound statement to make, and I believe that the SDGs really provide that blueprint,” she adds.

“Ultimately, our goal is to be part of a worldwide movement to make the changes needed to do things like ending poverty, reducing inequality, combating climate change, and truly creating a circular economy. We can't continue like this.” De Bono’s words echo Kitty van der Heijden’s: “Mission impossible is not an acceptable answer.”

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