EPEAT: Green Computer Registry
What is an environmentally friendly computer? This is the first question on every visitor's mind as they peruse EcoPCReview. It's both easy and difficult to answer. One of the first observations is that it's almost impossible to conceive of a completely green computer. There are too many complex, technological components that go into a computer, and all of these components have associated raw materials, energy, toxins, and greenhouse gases associated with their manufacture and use. It's not possible at this stage in our technological evolution to bring a computer's eco-footprint down to zero. We can, however, talk about environmentally friendlier or greener computers.
If you go to a local shopping mall you won't find PCs made from recycled organic cotton socks and hand weaved navel fluff. So what exactly is a greener PC? The criteria can be broken down into...
High operational power efficiency Large portion of recycled materials Non-toxic manufacturing Low energy & resources used for manufacturing Bill of materials used in product for legitimate documentation Low toxicity of materials used High efficiency design Green packaging Easily recyclable Low CO2 emissions distribution High durability and longevity
The list may seem perfectly logical, but upon closer examination, you'll see there are some serious challenges for the eco-conscious buyer. The single biggest challenge is that it's impossible for most people to gather this information, on not just one but a number of comparative products, to make an informed buying decision. There are too many complexities, hidden contradictions in the parameters, and unknowns.
In future articles, EPCR will delve into all of those complexitities, but for now, we can tell you that a market-based tool already exists to help buyers identify environmentally friendlier computer equipment, and to encourage manufacturers to develop greener IT products. This tool is EPEAT - Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool - launched in June 2006.
It's not a misspelling of repeat;
it's the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool
EPEAT-certified computers have reduced levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury to better protect human health. They are generally more energy efficient during operation, reducing electricity demand, which in turns reduces CO2 emissions. They are usually easier to upgrade and recycle; safe recycling options at the products' end of life must be offered by the manufacturers. At its heart, EPEAT is database that categorizes products in accordance with the scores they achieve on paramters set by a "green" standard, IEEE 1680-2006.