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What does ‘green’ mean?

01 Aug 2010

There’s no doubt environmental awareness in the corporate world is growing – and in its wake a host of ‘eco-friendly’ IT products have fl owed into the market. However, customers tell us that deciphering the green features, functionality and legitimacy of these products can be a challenge. A great way to inform customers of a product’s environmental impact is through third-party benchmarking. This is where eco– labels are useful: they provide you with the confidence to reassure your customers that the products they are buying meet high environmental standards. The following is a breakdown of several major eco-labels relevant to the IT industry, many of which you may deal with on a day-to-day basis: 1. ENERGY STAR ENERGY STAR is a widely used international standard for energy-efficient electronics. It is typically awarded to the top 25% of products in each category on the basis of energy efficiency, and now evaluates more than 35 product categories. In response to greater environmental concerns, it upgraded to a more rigorous set of standards in July last year called the ENERGY STAR 5.0. Machines with internal power supplies that achieve the ENERGY STAR 5.0 must have a minimum of 85% energy efficiency at 50% of rated output; and a minimum of 82% energy efficiency at 20%, and 100% of rated output. Computer products are measured on power supply and multiplemode efficiency, as well as their power management features. Servers must limit power conversion losses and generate less waste heat, provide building-wide energy efficiency benefits, measure real-time power use, processor utilisation and air temperature, demonstrate advanced power management features and efficient components to save energy across various operating states, and come with standardised key information on energy performance, features and other capabilities. 2. EPEAT Sitting alongside the ENERGY STAR rating is Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). EPEAT is commonly used in the IT industry and rates desktop and laptop computers, workstations, and computer displays based on 51 environmental criteria. To achieve the EPEAT standard, products must meet the 23 basic criteria which include:

  • The elimination of toxic materials
  • Design for recycling
  • Extended product longevity
  • Increased energy efficiency.
The product may then be awarded bronze, silver or gold certification. Businesses often look out for the EPEAT label as an indicator of a product’s efficiency and longevity. 3. Blue Angel Developed in Germany, the Blue Angel eco-label focuses on environmental and healthrelated attributes of a wide array of product categories. A Blue Angel eco-label on a product ensures that it performs at a high level without negative impact on human health and has a low impact on the environment. It considers the raw materials used in manufacturing all the way through to final disposal. 4. TCO Originally the Sweden-based TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) certification focused on health and ergonomic issues related to computer products, but its scope has since expanded to include high product performance and rigorous environmental requirements. TCO considers corporate social responsibility by the owner, hazardous substances and the ease of recycling, energy consumption and product life span, ergonomics and low emissions. Attention to environmental standards will only become a bigger consideration in the way businesses direct their IT spend. For the good of your customers, your planet and your business, it’s important to keep up-to-date on eco-labels and educate your customers about their meaning.

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