Need to sit in on a “face to face” business meeting in London without actually flying there? With just a push of a button telepresence video conferencing , lets you to do just that.

The benefits of using Telepresence are numerous and as a study produced for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) by Verdantix and sponsored by AT&T recently brought to light, the environmental perks are staggering.

Carbon Disclosure Project Study 2010: The Telepresence Revolution” reveals that by swapping in telepresence for some but certainly not all meetings that require business travel, businesses in the U.S. and U.K. can eliminate 5.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions – the same as removing over a million cars from the road for a year – and  reap economy-wide benefits to the tune of $19 billion by the year 2020.

Based on in-depth interviews with executives of 15 Global 500 companies who were early adapters of telepresence technology, the study finds that if companies with an annual revenue of $1 billion or more deployed four telepresence conference rooms, 900 business trips could be prevented in a single year and, subsequently, 2,271 metric tons of emissions – the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 434 cars from the road for one year – would be eliminated. Additionally, the company could expect to see a return on investment within 15 months while workers who are “on the road” less benefit from an improved work-life balance and speeder decision-making.

“Companies that invest in carbon cutting technologies and re-engineer the way they do business will not only be better placed to succeed as we transition to a low-carbon economy but can experience considerable business benefits during this transition,” said CDP chief executive officer Paul Dickinson. “Telepresence is a good example of a low-carbon solution that can bring financial savings and increase productivity while reducing emissions.”

Daniel T. Walsh, senior vice president of marketing services, AT&T Business Solutions said, “Business customers have spoken and their feedback is very powerful: Telepresence helps companies run their businesses better while allowing them to reduce their carbon emissions.

“This, plus the dramatic and speedy return on investment suggested in the findings are prompting companies to embrace this game-changing technology,” he added. “Over the last year, AT&T has helped customers deploy hundreds of rooms globally, a trend that we expect will continue as companies start to reap the many benefits of telepresence usage.”

In addition to the industry forecasts, the report cited benefits of telepresence already achieved by companies participating in the survey:

  • Sak Nayagam, Head of Climate Change Solutions, Sustainability Services EALA at Accenture, said, “Since adopting telepresence, Accenture has expanded its network to include more than 50 telepresence rooms across the globe. The travel saved through their use would have accounted for 6,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally from November 2007 through August 2009. For us, it is not so much about eliminating travel but travelling smarter and maximising the time and value of our workforce.”
  • Zelda Bentham, senior environment manager of global insurance company Aviva, said, “We compared executives travelling from the nine months prior to telepresence with the nine months following implementation. From an air travel perspective, we observed a 25 percent carbon footprint reduction.”
The study picks up where the “SMART 2020” report, a separate initiative authored by the Climate Group in 2008, left off. “SMART 2020” identified four key areas, including travel substitution, where greater use of the products and services from the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15% by 2020. To read more about the study, please visit: https://www.cdproject.net/telepresence-revolution.