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Buying the right, green PC

Greener computing does not simply mean minimising energy consumption of the PC during its operational life, but also during its full lifecycle from “cradle to grave”. It also means minimising material throughput i.e. recycling and re-using, and disposing of hazardous e-waste responsibly. So while much of this blog and a big part of our sustainable IT campaign is focused on energy efficiency in operations and e-waste, it is also important to review our PC procurement policies.

Consider these fast facts gleaned from some Gartner articles (see references):

  • according to Greenpeace more energy can be consumed during manufacture, shipping and recycling of a PC than during its operation
  • Manufacturing also uses many times the weight of a product in raw materials, from water to other potentially toxic chemicals
  • PCs and associated peripherals contribute approximately 31% of worldwide information and communication technology (ICT) energy use.

In order to reduce PCs’ environmental footprint we need to match the right PC with the right user – energy-wise; we need to change our procurement policies; and we must consider disposal (as we have started to do with our e-waste campaign).

The EPEAT eco-labelling system for electronic devices covers a broad range of environmental criteria as well as the latest Energy Star specification for energy efficiency. EPEAT-certified PCs and peripherals have satisfied 51 environmental criteria, grouped into the following categories:

  • Reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
  • Materials selection
  • Design for end of life
  • Product longevity/life cycle extension
  • Energy conservation
  • End of life management
  • Vendor corporate performance
  • Packaging.

The University should seriously consider specifying EPEAT Gold or Silver certification in its PC Requests for Proposal (RFP) and its set of procurement criteria.


These Gartner articles are accessible to University staff and students. First log in here. Then click on the articles below:

IT Procurement Best Practice: Negotiate Green Results You Can Audit for Environmental Savings

EPEAT Is Helping Companies Become More Eco-Friendly

Seven Steps for ‘Greening’ PCs

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One Response to “Buying the right, green PC”

  1. University of Berkeley, Dept of IS has a productive Auto Shutdown Manager environment with real time power metering. They achieved a reduction in PC energy consumption of 85% or over 35.000 kWh in 6 months. That converts into savings of more than $4000 for 100 PC’s.

    You can see the impact of using Auto Shutdown Manager here: Berkeley Green IT Initiative

    Auto Shutdown Manager is lean and built with the IT Department in mind. You can control your entire IT landscape from one central console, with real time visibility into the savings in Dollar and CO2. It can be deployed to hundreds of PC’s in minutes and can be as easily removed. It will not require any responsibility to your users and its CPU and RAM footprint is small, so even older computers can benefit. It is fully transparent.

    There is a free 45 Day trial with all features enabled, so you can assure yourself beforehand what saving can be achieved in your environment. http://www.pcpowersaving.com/index-2.shtml

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