May 22, 2009
| by Steven Castle
Shopping for new computer? If you’re interested in buying an energy efficient or green computer, one of the first places you should go is the EPEAT site.
EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool) is a registry of more than 1,200 green products—so far limited to desktops computers, laptops/notebooks, workstations and computer monitors—and managed by the Green Electronics Council. Though it was developed for “institutional purchasers” like the government, more and more it is being used by individuals looking for energy-efficient and green products. It is quickly becoming the de facto standard for green computing products.
All EPEAT-rated products must be qualified for the latest Energy Star compliance, which means it is about 20 percent more energy-efficient than similar products. In addition, an EPEAT-registered product must meet 23 required environmental performance criteria. EPEAT products are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on the percentage of an additional 28 optional criteria they meet.
All the criteria are grouped in eight environmental performance categories:
- Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials.
- Material selection.
- Design for end of life.
- Product longevity/life extension.
- Energy conservation.
- End of life management.
- Corporate performance.
Although EPEAT is a system in which manufacturers declare their products’ conformance, EPEAT says it operates an ongoing verification program to assure the credibility of the registry.
EPEAT is a great first step when looking for an energy-efficient or sustainable computer product. Some of the systems there are not intended for home use, but more and more home-based products are being added to the site.
“Computers and monitors that are designed for consumers tend to have more entertainment and media features than the typical office PC or laptop, including high-end video and sound, faster processors, more RAM (to enable better pictures and video), larger and more hard disk drives, more connectivity (USB, firewire, etc.), larger displays, and different operating systems,” says the EPEAT site. “Because of these features, home computers often consume more energy than business computers, and may contain components that do not meet EPEAT criteria on hazardous materials or recycled content.”
But check EPEAT anyway. You can find a greener computer there, with many of today’s features.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates