Green Building Perspectives: Consumer Electronics Association

PrintFor this week’s Green Building Perspectives, we spoke with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $173 billion U.S. consumer technology industry through legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA represents more than 2,200 corporate members involved in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and integration of audio, video, mobile electronics, wireless and landline communications, information technology, home networking, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. The CEA TechHome division will be launching their new TechHome Rating System, which is being created to provide a model and associated rating program that will allow builders, integrators and consumers to demonstrate what technology products can be installed in a home. With a focus on energy management, whole-home connectivity and entertainment, the Green Life Smart Life project will be the first case study of the program.

 1. What do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project? What interested CEA in the GLSL project?
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is excited to support the Green Life Smart Life program as platinum sponsor to highlight how installed home technologies and consumer electronics can help homeowners become more environmentally sustainable. CEA is committed to increasing awareness of environmentally-friendly products and programs within the consumer electronics industry, as well as working with lawmakers and government officials to develop public policy solutions that protect innovation and consumer choice while promoting energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. The GLSL project gives CEA a great platform to show that you can live a high-tech and energy efficient lifestyle without having to sacrifice any of the design and entertainment features of a high-tech home.

The Green Life Smart Life demonstrates not only to consumers, but Electronic Systems Contractors (ESC), builders and architects how installed home technologies can help minimize a home’s environmental impact through smart home design that incorporates technology. Through CEA’s involvement with GLSL, we hope to spur the building community into thinking about how they can incorporate consumer electronics into their projects to help homeowners become better environmental stewards. 

The Green Life Smart is one of the first homes in the country to use CEA’s TechHome Rating System (THRS), a nationally-recognized build-to specification for residential technology infrastructure. THRS removes the complexity of adding home technology by explaining at a glance the level of structured wiring that is present or needed within a home. In addition to providing the infrastructure needed for entertainment features like Multi-Room Audio, THRS can enhance a home’s green lifestyle by providing for the infrastructure needed for energy monitoring, energy management and home control systems. 

2. Where does your company/organization see green building going in the next 5 years?  
As green building grows, so will the number of technology offerings included in those projects. CEA has several member companies that are on the forefront of energy efficient and energy management technology.  Consumers are looking to make informed decision about their home energy consumption. Home automation systems that help manage and control energy consumption will give them those resources. It is not just homeowners looking to make more informed decisions. Utility companies are building Smart Grids to have a better handle on how energy is being distributed and used. By using these grids to show peak load times and reducing demand through time of day pricing, utilities companies will give homeowners even more tools to better understand their energy consumption. The Obama administration’s commitment to building Smart Grids will only help build consumer’s understanding of installed home technology that tracks a home’s energy use. ESC will need to take a leading role in educating consumers about the options available to them and can be instrumental in incorporating those options into homes.

3. Do you think green practices/manufacturing will ever dominate the CE industry?
Yes. The environment is increasingly taken into account as CE companies make materials and components, design, manufacture and distribute produces, and sell them in retail stores and online. CE companies are changing their design process to create products that need less packaging, contain fewer harmful chemicals and allow for reusability and recycling. CEA recently examined the environmental data from the largest CE companies and found that most were looking for ways to reduce waste, conserve resources and shrink product size (CEA’s Environmental Sustainability and Innovation in the Consumer Electronics Industry, October 2008).

Highlights of the study include:      

  • Decreased electricity use: Among companies that reported reduced electricity consumption, electricity usage declined by as much as 25 percent during the past three to four years. 
  • Relative greenhouse gas reduction: Among the major CE companies that reported greenhouse gas emissions from 2004-2007, seven of the 10 have achieved a reduction per one million dollars revenue.
  • Strong recycling commitment Among 64 electronics companies surveyed, more than two-thirds — 69 percent — report that they are actively recycling electronic products and components, and 38 percent report reuse of the electronics products they make or use. Together, these actions have helped to recycle nearly 800,000 tons of electronic waste.
  • Improved energy efficiency: Continuous improvement across the industry in nearly every product. The widespread shift from CRT to LCD monitors that occurred earlier this decade reduced average energy use per monitor by about 30 percent.

 4. What do you think custom CE installers need to do or prepare to do to take full advantage of the green movement?
Join CEA! Becoming an active participant in CEA helps custom installers stay up-to-date on key industry trends and gives them a variety of opportunities to hear from other ESCs and manufactures about what is happening in the market place. Belonging to a trade association like CEA supplies you the relevant tools needed to help you succeed in the custom integration channel.  

 If you’re looking for a way to become more involved within CEA while learning more about how you can incorporate sustainability practices into you business, consider joining the new CEA-CEDIA Green Certification Work Group. CEA and CEDIA have joined forces to compile a reference guide of green certifications relevant to the custom installation industry. This new CEA-CEDIA work group is looking for custom installers to share their knowledge. Get more information or participate on this work group!