How green is your office?

And it looks like McLaren's Lewis Hamilton pips Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to win the Singapore Formula One! If only. Instead, the only race being fought out at today's breakfast seminar was one on a slow track that was gearing up one notch: The race toward greening offices and their bottom lines.

Leaving a lesser carbon footprint while trimming costs were key messages that global video-conferencing leader Tandberg and the Singapore Environment Council delivered at the unveiling of Singapore's--and possibly Asia's--first Green Office. The aim: To raise environmental awareness among the business community and to provide an advisory role on the hows, while improving productivity and lowering costs. Toward this end, both partners will have a permanent Green Office showcased at SEC's Cluny Road premises, with real estate developer City Developments lending a hand with permanent roadshows that may go beyond the island state.

As a sobering illustration, Tandberg's president Asia Pacific (excl. China & Japan) Lars Ronning gave the example of an APAC gathering. If 16 people flew in monthly to meet, this would result in 320 hours of unproductive time, 100,000 miles expended, work and personal life affected, and 50 tons of carbon emissions generated. If 100 companies held similar meetings, roughly 1,200 trees would have to be planted a year to balance the equation.

Not surprisingly, Tandberg suggested that video conferencing could be a workable green solution. Vodafone, for instance, saved 13,500 flights in a year and about 5,000 tons in carbon emissions. More importantly, it realized its returns on investment (ROI) in a year. To "walk the talk", the event had CSLA Asia Pacific CTO T Rajah speaking to the audience via video conference from Hong Kong, expounding the benefits of video conferencing.

So how can organizations go green? And will businesses in Asia be able to shrug off the inertia of taking that important first step? "We're not talking about drastic changes, but small changes. Baby steps," so says Tandberg's Jeanne Lim, director of Marketing Asia Pacific. We'll see.

Though once Hamilton and the boys hit the Singapore roads in those fuel-propelled Formula One cars come September 2008, all green ideals will go up in smoke together with the rubber.