Becoming a green road warrior

Business travel can be exhausting. Just getting to your flight in these days of traffic congestion and long security lines can be a trial. And once you're at your destination, there are meetings to attend and phone calls to return, not to mention keeping up with what's happening back at the office.

Who has time to think "green" under such difficult circumstances? Andy Abramson, CEO of Communicano, a marketing communications agency, 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% of all travel in the U.S. in 2006 was for business. And air travel emits between 4% and 9% 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 over 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 effect.

Greener technology on the road

Most of us take a lot of hardware when we travel. Laptops and cell phones are ubiquitous, of course. But we also carry devices to entertain ourselves, such as MP3 players or video players. These items use a lot of energy. Here are some tips to make mobile computing and communicating more efficient.

Use technology to stay home

Before you make arrangements to hit the road, ask whether you need to travel at all. Many organizations 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 audioconferencing 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 videoconferencing, Web conferencing and even virtual trade shows can help keep you off the road.

Buy green laptops

Some laptops are friendlier to the environment than others. Before you buy, use EPEAT to find out how green a particular laptop is.

EPEAT is a nonprofit organization 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.

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