Are the days of meeting planners hauling around huge binders full of every detail about a meeting going the way of the dinosaur?
Yes, according to Larry Covert, the ASAE Director of Information Technology, who led a session on “Green IT” at the ASAE Technology Conference in early December. The session was sponsored by the ASAE Convene Green Alliance.
“We are seeing big cost savings plus a reduced carbon footprint by transferring all the information that used to be printed in three 10-inch binders into an iPad,” said Covert.
Judy Bausch, CMP, the ASAE Meetings Manager, manages a 10-member onsite team at the Annual Meeting that all used to work with these large binders. Today, however, ASAE uses an app called iAnnotatePDF that is available in the iStore for only $8 to handle all the data electronically that used to be printed.
Debbie Hanger, the ASAE Director of Database Administration, designed meeting reports and function sheets that would work in this new electronic environment.
“Her team decided there had to be a better way to save paper,” explained Covert. “We ended up with PDF documents with details on every function we had at the Annual Meeting and have the ability to mark up, alter and distribute changes electronically. The contents are also fully searchable and can be accessed instantly, so it has helped us become better customer service representatives at the meeting. There’s no need to flip pages in a huge binder to try to find a piece of information or call someone – all the information is right there housed on the iPad.”
The meeting staging guide that ASAE converted to an electronic format using this app won an Innovation Award at the 2011 Aptify Users Conference.
“This will be the standard for all our future meetings,” said Covert.
He also talked about many other innovations ASAE has done to improve its environmental sustainability, especially in the area of reduced printing across the organization.
“We purchased only half the paper this year as last year – 1,400 fewer reams of paper,” said Covert. “This equates to 12 metric tons less CO2 in the atmosphere and also saved us $8,400.”
ASAE has done this by providing a set of technologies to its staff through mobile devices, cloud services and improved electronic reading and annotating on iPads, which many of the staff use extensively.
“Most users now prefer to read articles, web pages, and other materials on the go on the iPad rather than printing them,” said Covert. “We continually hear the phrase, ‘Can you send me that for my iBooks?’ I don’t remember the last time I printed out something to read.”
Covert also provided an in-depth review of major IT innovations underway at ASAE to reconfigure servers, tap into cloud-based services, use solid ink printers, and more.
He reported that these changes are saving 171,000 KWh per year in power and reducing the carbon footprint by 118 metric tons of CO2 per year. This equates to $17,100 in annual cost savings, plus another $70,000 in reduced hardware replacement costs.
ASAE is also using telecommuting to reduce its carbon footprint.