The visibility of energy production and consumption is at an all-time high, both from an acute awareness of the detriments of fossil fuel usage, as well as the rising costs of energy supply. This has a direct effect on the events industry. Traditional event audiovisual services have required careful budgeting to ensure equipment has sufficient power, with the scale of the event directly corresponding to the energy budget. However, a shift toward improved efficiency across the industry, both from a manufacturing and utilization perspective, have begun to change this landscape. This has resulted in a conservation of energy, a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and the ability to execute larger productions beyond the scale of what was possible, while using less energy than would have previously been required.
Audiovisual technology and equipment generally require a steady supply of clean power, owing to complex electronic components that work hand-in-hand to perform the desired function for audio, video, lighting and some scenic/staging items. A lot of the common best practices still in use in the industry have derived from failures witnessed at large-scale events where equipment was fed insufficient, dirty or unsafe power. Earlier or previous generation products would be highly reliant on a heavy current draw to function optimally, and any break in the stream of power being supplied would either cause a loss of signal/performance, or sometimes lead to equipment and event failure. However, as time has progressed, electronics have become more efficient through the use of components that are able to more directly translate the power to a desired output. The following are a few examples of this shift in technology:
Stage lighting (both static and moving/intelligent fixtures) used incandescent bulbs which would output a high amount of heat and draw a lot of power as the demand grew. Modern fixtures have transitioned to the use of LED bulbs. The lifetime of the bulb is also significantly longer, at an average of 50,000 hours vs 1000-1500 for an incandescent bulb.
Audio amplification for large public address (PA) systems have switched from Class-A amplifiers (with an efficiency of about 25%-50%) to Class-D amplifiers (with an efficiency approaching 90%). These newer amps are also significantly lighter, and fewer physical units are needed to drive larger speaker sets at much louder volumes.
Projectors, a mainstay of conference rooms and presentations, also used consumable discharge lamps. Newer models are now transitioning to using laser and LED light sources, which are brighter, more energy efficient and longer lasting.
Items such as audio consoles, among others, are switching to digital/compute-based formats that allow for data transfer, backups, and overall robustness with the benefit of a smaller physical and energy footprint. These trends toward more energy efficient designs also tend to have a lower overall cost of ownership, and generally exhibit good return on investment (ROI).
The increase in power efficiency has a direct impact on the meeting planning as well, providing planners with an updated formula for their budgeting. By understanding the benefits of using modern, energy efficient equipment, planners can think beyond the traditional event, and create conferences that are more appealing.
Understanding Power Requirements
Several commonly used meeting spaces, such as hotel conference rooms, generally require purchasing power circuits. Some venues have a high-current electrical service they provide for a fee, while others may require the use of an electrical generator. Both of these add a cost to the event budget, as the amount of power required increases with the power draw of the equipment in use. However, modern equipment and its ability to utilize less power would mean that a smaller amount of power can be ordered from the venue, or a smaller generator can be used. The smaller power draw also allows the use of battery-based power generators to be used. As these units are battery-powered, they can be used directly inside the venue while avoiding the fuel exhaust, loud noise and heavy-duty cabling requirements for standard generators. This can help directly reduce the cost of the power budget for the event.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
Utilizing less power and having equipment with a longer lifespan with fewer disposable components, reduces the carbon footprint of the conference that uses them, permitting the event to establish itself as environmentally conscious and green. AV-CANADA is also employing initiatives to be carbon neutral by 2027.
As modern equipment draws less power, having backup power solutions in place is more practical, and can be offered as a practical service for highly critical events where a power failure is a circumstance to be avoided at all costs, but may be difficult to execute due to venue or equipment limits when using older technology.
The lightness and efficiency of modern equipment, as well as the ability to provide robust battery-based power, allows portions of an event to be more portable. This in turn allows for on-location events that might not have been achievable using older-format heavy generators, more power-hungry equipment, or in areas where a steady source of power is not readily available.
The overall shift towards energy efficiency has had, and continues to have, a significant impact in shaping the modern event. By allowing the event planner to do more with less, the format of an event can be increased while keeping or reducing costs, and with a strong focus on the environment.