Like LEED for Computers: EPEAT, The Green Computing Standard

Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a brand-new standard system for evaluating, certifying and registering green computers and other electronics. Like LEED for green building and Energy Star for appliances, EPEAT provides a clear and consistent set of performance criteria for the design of products, and provides an opportunity for manufacturers to secure market recognition for efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its products. The rating system evaluates computer and other electronic products according to three tiers of environmental performance -- Bronze, Silver, and Gold. There are 51 total environmental criteria: 23 required and 28 optional criteria, and products earn respective labels for the total number of criteria met. The new standard is designed to encourage manufacturers to design their products to be used longer, be more energy efficient, easier to upgrade and recycle, and contain fewer hazardous materials. IEEE 1680, as the standard is known, is the first U.S. standard to supply environmental guidelines for institutional purchasing decisions involving desktop and laptop computers and monitors. It offers criteria in eight categories -- materials selection, environmentally sensitive materials, design for end of life, end-of-life management, energy conservation, product longevity and life-cycle extension, packaging, and corporate performance.

The product registry will be available next month; for now, the site lists those who are including EPEAT language in budget and IT proposals for this and next year; they include the U.S. Army, the Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Interior Department, and the state of California. The EPA predicts that in the next five years purchases of EPEAT-registered computers could reduce hazardous waste by 4 million pounds and save enough energy to power two million homes.

Will EPEAT take off and lead a new market like LEED and Energy Star have done? Time will tell, and, as Joel Makower notes, "Building to new IEEE 1680 standard essentially means building durable computers that use minimal energy, are easily upgraded, and can be easily (and harmlessly) recycled. That's a good value proposition likely to sell more machines regardless of whether buyers specify the new standard." Sounds like a good start to us. ::EPEAT via ::Two Steps Forward. See also ::China To Set "Environment Friendly" Electronics Standards, ::Lead-free Electronics Led by the EU