Business in Virtual Worlds

Obama Executive Order Could Benefit Virtual Worlds

President Obama issued an executive order a few days ago that will go a long way to kick-starting government’s examination of new ways to meet and collaborate. The order states:

“As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,” said President Obama. “This Executive Order builds on the momentum of the Recovery Act to help create a clean energy economy and demonstrates the Federal government’s commitment, over and above what is already being done, to reducing emissions and saving money.”…

Implementation of the Executive Order will focus on integrating achievement of sustainability goals with agency mission and strategic planning to optimize performance and minimize implementation costs. Each agency will develop and carry out an integrated Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan that prioritizes the agency’s actions toward the goals of the Executive Order based on lifecycle return on investments. Implementation will be managed through the previously-established Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, working in close partnership with OMB, CEQ and the agencies.

While much of the order focuses on sustainable sources of energy, the targets open the door to using Web and virtual world based tools, in particular the goal of reducing vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020 by 30%. While this could be achieved through fleet replacement, it could also be reduced through less travel time and, well, virtual meetings.

It strikes me that the virtual world industry, or specific platforms, could leverage the executive order by issuing clear guidance and statistics on how virtual worlds for collaboration have a direct impact on energy conservation and sustainability. While not carbon neutral (we need power to run our computers after all), virtual worlds nonetheless offer a way to avoid unnecessary travel while maintaining engagement.

Our work with Immersive Workspaces(TM) has provided one set of metrics in this area and I know that others have measured ROI including reduced travel expenditures. But maybe it’s time for a mini consortium to put some figures to this and get it circulating at the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive.


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