Become a green road warrior

Business travel can be exhausting. In between getting to your flight through traffic and long security lines, attending meetings and keeping up with what's happening back at the office, who has the time to think green?


Well, Andy Abramson, CEO of Communicano, a marketing communications agency, says he does. "I've been on the road for five days a week on average since the first of the year," Abramson said. "Before that, I was on the road three days a week. I'm a Bedouin, a global nomad, but I'm very conscious of being green."

The Travel Industry Association says that 26 percent all travel in the US in 2006 was for business. And air travel emits between four percent and nine percent of all greenhouse gases, according to various estimates. Add to that the energy you use for computing and communications and road warriors have an excellent opportunity to help the environment.

Here are more than a dozen ways your business travels can become greener. Most focus on the technology you use while you are mobile, but other tips are more general and could have an even bigger impact.

Use technology to stay home Before you make arrangements to hit the road, ask whether you need to travel at all. Many organisations with tight travel budgets have turned to technology to replace travel. Even an inveterate road warrior like Abramson is increasingly relying on such tools.

"We typically have planning sessions with clients that use audio conferencing so people don't all have to jump on planes," Abramson said. "And we use videoconferencing if we need to see each other. People can participate the same way they would if they're there. They're on the same page, not the same place."

Besides audio and video conferencing, web conferencing and even virtual trade shows can help keep you off the road.

Buy green laptops Some laptops are greener than others. Before you buy, use EPEAT to find out how green a particular laptop is. EPEAT is a non-profit organisation that rates laptops, as well as in-office computing hardware, on a standardized series of 51 environmental criteria. These criteria include factors such as the amount of electricity consumed and the disposability of products and components.

Most well-known brands in the computing world participate, making EPEAT one of the best ways to determine how environmentally sound your laptop and other hardware is.

Configure your mobile devices correctly Michael Steiner, executive vice president of Ovation Travel Group, which focuses on corporate travel, notes that you can save a lot of energy by making the right settings on your mobile devices.

"Configure your laptop to be as energy efficient as possible," Steiner says. Make sure you configure your laptop so it either goes to sleep after a certain period of time or hibernates, which cuts down energy usage even more.

He notes that mobile phones and other small devices also have energy-based settings, such as the time interval before the screen goes blank. That means, for instance, in Windows you can set your laptop to automatically turn off the monitor after, say, 10 minutes of non-use and to hibernate after an hour or two of non-use. These settings are available in Windows Control Panel; Apple laptops have similar settings.

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