Greening the enterprise is becoming a concern for most businesses. The IT department can help, not just through recycling but also by encouraging smart shopping. EPEAT can help you make sure your hardware life cycle has an environmentally friendly beginning.
I was reading some of the coverage regarding Apple's recent revisions to their laptop line, and I ran across an acronym I didn't recognize in their ad copy: EPEAT. Apple was drawing attention to the fact that their new MacBooks had received a Gold Rating in the EPEAT standards assessment. I wasn't quite sure what they meant by that.
A little digging revealed that EPEAT stands for "Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool." EPEAT is a not-for-profit organization that is managed by the Green Electronics Council and was established in partnership with the EPA. The goal of EPEAT is to provide information so that institutional purchasers can compare the environmental attributes of particular computers. Most of the major hardware manufacturers participate in the EPEAT program, even if they're not all as vocal about it as Apple. Dell, HP, and Lenovo have all submitted data to the EPEAT registry, and you might be able to find information on your brand of choice, even if it's more obscure.
I think EPEAT is a great idea, and I am a little embarrassed that I had never heard of it before. Let's be realistic, institutions (businesses, schools, the government) buy the majority of computer hardware. If purchasing executives in these sectors choose to acquire environmentally friendly products, we could see a decrease in energy consumption as well as a reduction in the spread of toxic chemicals. EPEAT's role is vital, providing the information that makes responsible purchases possible.
Like a lot of support pros, I have had to think about the negative impact that our hardware can have on the environment. The most obvious way we have handled this issue in the past is through responsible recycling. Researching EPEAT and their rating system reminded me that technologists can be thinking of the environment even before the hardware is bought. If you're interested in making your IT shop more green, certainly keep disposing of your components properly, but also check the EPEAT registry to make sure you're buying the most responsible products you can.
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