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 Comunicano, 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."

Air travel emits between 4 and 9 percent 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 a dozen and a half 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 impact.

Most of us take a lot of hardware when we travel. Laptops and mobile 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.

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Here are some tips to make mobile computing and communicating more efficient.

Use technology to stay at home

Before you make arrangements to hit the road, ask whether you need to travel at all. Many organisations with tight travel budgets have turned to technology to replace travel. Even an inveterate road warrior such as Abramson is increasingly relying on such tools.

"We typically have planning sessions with clients that use audio conferencing 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 video conferencing, web conferencing and even virtual trade shows can help keep you off the road.

Buy green laptops

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

EPEAT is a non-profit organisation that rates laptops, as well as in-office computing hardware, on a standardised 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.

NEXT PAGE: More little changes to help you go green, including configuring your mobile devices correctly and unplugging equipment.

  1. Use technology to stay home, and buy green laptops
  2. Configure mobile devices, and use alternative power sources
  3. Using fewer devices and disposing of kit responsibly
  4. Carbon offsetting on the road
  5. Choose a green hotel
  6. http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?spotlight=21:c

There's no doubt business travel is necessary. But in this green-conscious society, just how can you do your bit to help the environment? We've rounded up 18 small changes you can make to ensure you become greener.

Configure your mobile devices correctly

Michael Steiner, executive vice president of Ovation Travel Group, which focuses on corporate travel, notes that you can save a lot of energy by making the right settings on your mobile devices.

"Configure your laptop to be as energy efficient as possible," Steiner said. Make sure you configure your laptop so it either goes to sleep after a certain period of time or hibernates, which cuts down energy usage even more. He noted that mobile phones and other small devices also have energy-based settings, such as the time interval before the screen goes blank. That means, for instance, in Windows you can set your laptop to automatically turn off the monitor after, say, 10 minutes of non-use and to hibernate after an hour or two of non-use. These settings are available in Windows Control Panel; Apple laptops have similar settings.

Turn it off

Many of us leave our laptops on in hotel rooms so they can constantly receive email. That, of course, uses energy. If you'll be gone for more than a few hours, turn off the laptop. This will result in significant power savings.

Unplug when not in use

Better still, don't just turn your electronic gear off. Unplug the devices from the wall. That's because many devices that have been switched off still draw power.

"It's called the 'phantom draw'," said Sara Snow, a green lifestyle expert. "Mobile phone chargers are one of the biggest offenders. I've heard that as much as 95 percent of the power that a mobile phone charger uses is consumed when it's not even plugged into the phone."

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Use alternative power

There are a surprising number of ways to charge your devices without plugging them into a wall socket.

"Some of our more forward-thinking clients are going to solar power and even wind-up power for (smaller) devices," Steiner said.

For example, Solio and Brunton offer device rechargers that use solar power. The Highgear SmartDynamo is a wind-up charger that features a port for your phone and also contains a radio and flashlight. Voltaic Systems, Eclipse Solar Gear and others sell laptop cases and backpacks with solar panels for charging laptops and other devices.

"Those backpacks work surprisingly well," Snow said.

Another option is to buy a universal 75W car adaptor, which plugs into a cigarette lighter and can charge laptops and other devices from the car's alternator, which is virtually free power since the simple act of driving generates more.

Abramson even uses a solar powered Bluetooth headset from Iqua. "It literally recharges as I walk around. It really works well and it works in any light."

NEXT PAGE: We look at other ways to go green while on the road, including using fewer devices and disposing responsibly.

  1. Use technology to stay home, and buy green laptops
  2. Configure mobile devices, and use alternative power sources
  3. Using fewer devices and disposing of kit responsibly
  4. Carbon offsetting on the road
  5. Choose a green hotel
  6. http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?spotlight=21:c

Air travel accounts for 4 and 9 percent of all greenhouse gases and with all the gadgets and devices we use while traveling for business, that's a hefty contribution to the global carbon footprint. While you may not be able to cut down on your business travel, we've taken a look at some ways you can compensate for your carbon footprint.

Use fewer devices

These days, many mobile devices can perform multiple tasks. It's more energy efficient to use a single device instead of multiple devices.

"Use a smartphone for your music instead of both a mobile phone and an iPod," Abramson said. "It's consolidation without compromise."

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Want less

Snow is particularly adamant that we can help the environment by simplifying our lives.

"We live in a world of consumerism and disposability," she said.

"We have a tendency to want a new mobile phone every year. But you don't really need to do that. And when you do need to replace your phone, buy it from companies that leave the least amount of waste."

Greenpeace issues a quarterly report on how mobile phone companies and computer vendors are doing in this regard, although they don't list specific products.

See also:

Greenpeace: Toshiba, Samsung greenest IT companies

Dispose responsibly

Eventually, the useful life of a laptop, mobile phone or any other electronic device comes to an end. Snow urges people to find a new owner if the device is still usable. If that's not the case, make sure you dispose of the old device carefully - electronic gear is full of potentially toxic items.

In particular, find a recycling centre that takes electronics, Snow said. Once hard to find, electronics recycling is becoming more common.

Use less paper

E-readers and e-documents use electricity, but they don't use paper, which requires a lot of energy to produce. Plus, e-docs are easier to carry on the road.

Typically, smartphones can display documents in PDF format. If you require access to a lot of e-documents, think of buying an e-reader such as Amazon's Kindle or the Sony Reader, which can store hundreds of documents and have larger, more readable screens. True, this runs counter to the earlier tip to use fewer devices, but there could well be a net energy gain.

NEXT PAGE: How carbon offset can help you go green while on the road

  1. Use technology to stay home, and buy green laptops
  2. Configure mobile devices, and use alternative power sources
  3. Using fewer devices and disposing of kit responsibly
  4. Carbon offsetting on the road
  5. Choose a green hotel
  6. http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?spotlight=21:c

Business travel doesn't exactly help the environment but it's a necessity. So we've rounded up some of the quickest and easiest ways to become a little bit greener and help the environment.

Other green travel tips

The following tips aren't directly related to the computing and communications devices that you use while traveling, but they will help lower your carbon footprint when you are on the road.

Carbon offset

This is a relatively new concept that, in simple terms, involves paying an organisation a small amount to offset the carbon-related cost of your trip. That money is then directed toward organisations that are developing alternative methods of energy such as solar, wind or hydro power.

You can do this either by working directly with the organisations, which are listed below, or, increasingly, with your travel agent and even with a few airlines and rental car companies.

"We try to remove as many carbon emissions as possible," said Steiner. "But when that's not possible, some of our clients try to compensate for the carbon they are emitting." The fee typically is just a few pounds for, say, a European flight - the exact price varies depending on the organisation you use and the type of transportation you are using.

"We only have about a dozen corporate clients out of 400 that are doing it," he said. "But many who aren't doing it have plans to start in 2008."

For her part, Snow has a caution about energy offsets. "Some people think that offsets make it okay to continue with their big-consuming ways," she said. "I wouldn't use that as an excuse to, say, buy a bigger house."

Four widely known organisations offering carbon offsets are: Carbonfund.org, LiveNeutral, Terrapass and NativeEnergy.

Fly efficiently

Snow points out that take-offs and landings use as much as 25 percent of an airplane's fuel, particularly on short trips. To avoid multiple take-offs and landings, schedule direct flights whenever possible.

Carry your own water bottle

Snow notes that it is wasteful to buy plastic bottles of water in airports when you can carry your own empty, refillable water bottle and fill it at a drinking fountain after you've passed through security.

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Use mass transit

Mass transit, particularly rail transit, is available from many airports in larger cities. It is not only more energy efficient and less expensive than using a cab but, depending on the time of day, it can be significantly faster.

Particularly if you are staying in a suburban area, ask your hotel when you make your reservation if mass transit is available from the airport.

Rent right

Mass transit has the lowest carbon footprint, but sometimes you just need to rent a vehicle. When that happens, rent a hybrid car or other high-mileage/low-emission vehicle.

NEXT PAGE: How choosing a hotel wisely can help reduce your carbon footprint.

  1. Use technology to stay home, and buy green laptops
  2. Configure mobile devices, and use alternative power sources
  3. Using fewer devices and disposing of kit responsibly
  4. Carbon offsetting on the road
  5. Choose a green hotel
  6. http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?spotlight=21:c

There's no doubt business travel is necessary but in this green-conscious society, just how can do our bit to help the environment? We’ve rounded up over a dozen small changes you can make to ensure you become greener.

Choose your hotel wisely

When it comes to green initiatives, not all hotels are equal.

"Green hotels are those that have policies about, say, recycling and energy efficiency in rooms and things like how they deal with laundry," Steiner said. Call your hotel or visit its website to check out its green policies before you make reservations. Or ask your travel agent or travel department do so.

Keep your in-hotel footprint small

There is much you can do to lower your energy footprint once you are in your hotel room. Abramson suggested using the in-room thermostat to keep the room as cool as possible in winter and as warm as possible in summer.

Snow notes that you don't need daily refreshes of towels and sheets - cleaning towels and sheets uses a lot of energy. She suggested hanging the 'Do not disturb' sign on your door as a signal to the hotel's staff not to enter your room. That not only saves energy but is also more secure, she added.

Without question, being green on the road takes a bit of effort and can require you to change your habits.

"If you're going to be green, the key is to think green," Abramson said. "Think about what you're doing and how you're getting somewhere."

  1. Use technology to stay home, and buy green laptops
  2. Configure mobile devices, and use alternative power sources
  3. Using fewer devices and disposing of kit responsibly
  4. Carbon offsetting on the road
  5. Choose a green hotel
  6. http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?spotlight=21:c