World's First Carbon Footprint Certified Television - Is Energy Efficiency Old News?

Yesterday we talked about the hubbub surrounding California's move to ban from store shelves any televisions that don't meet particular energy efficiency requirements. The move signals a growing consciousness around electronics and that to be both economically practical and environmentally friendly, they need to lay off the juice. But as energy efficiency was once the "green" angle for TV manufacturers in selling their wares, there seems to already be a new wave just starting to form that will take the place of energy efficiency. Behold, the first television with Carbon Footprint Verification. Er, well, sort of behold...we couldn't find any good images of the actual set that earned verification. But, a TV is a TV and you probably have a good idea what it looks like. Anyway, AUO says that their 32" LCD TV has passed muster with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) PAS2050 Pilot Project and became the world's first Carbon Footprint Verified television.

Does This Carbon Footprint Verification Mean Anything?
Of course, what weight you place on that depends on how much credibility you give to PAS2050 standards. You can check out the standards for accreditation and gather up your opinion on it.

By succeeding in the third party verification by SGS, AUO's 32" LCD TV is the worldwide first LCD TV set to gain Carbon Footprint Verification, which establishes the benchmark on the carbon footprint management for consumer electronic products...Based on the definition of the life cycle of ISO14044, the carbon emission calculation of AUO's 32" LCD TV carbon footprint project includes each stage of the product life cycle from raw material, manufacturing, delivering, consumer using, discarding, or recycling. Through the indicator of carbon calculation, consumers will know well what the environmental impact is caused by the electronic products they use in the future.

This certainly is a step in the direction we want to go, with consumers being able to quickly, easily, and reliably identify the carbon footprint of whatever it is they're consuming so they can factor in true cost along with everything else they factor in while making purchases. The carbon footprint of an electronic is equally as important as things like its energy efficiency rating. And with energy efficiency becoming a standard aspect of a product noted by manufacturers and looked for by consumers, it seems carbon footprint labeling could be already on its way as a replacement for what makes a device greener than its peers. But we have to trust the footprint verification process.

Issues With Carbon Footprint Verification
However, some sticky points in measuring carbon footprints are things like how far down the supply chain, how far into the future use by consumers, and how deep into their operations side of things manufacturers go in measuring their footprint. Everyone varies on these points, and so carbon footprints are far from being a standardized measurement for environmental impact. However, this television is using at least one standard, so by digging into that, consumers are able to see how reliable the information is.

We do want to see more of this on the market, though we will approach announcements like this with skepticism until we can confidently weed out greenwashing.

Meanwhile, we're excited to see this next step in manufacturers helping to make their products' impacts more transparent for eco-savvy consumers.

More on Measuring Carbon Footprints
Your Carbon Footprint: Calculating, Reducing and Offsetting Your Impact
The Mysterious Carbon Footprint of Packaging
CES 2009: Eco-Mount a Carbon Neutral Company?

Tags: Carbon Footprint | Electronics