A Green Approach to Office Technology

Thu, Oct 15, 2009

b. Save Money

Small businesses have an opportunity to simultaneously cut costs and reduce their carbon footprints as the use of technology increases. The Small Business Administration estimates that the right energy savings plan can save businesses up to 25% in energy costs.Put your small business on the path to such drastic cost reductions by purchasing efficient equipment and maintaining it effectively. Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability by taking a green approach to technology equipment from acquisition to retirement.

Choose Wisely

Buying ENERGY STAR computers and peripherals is smart business. The government assigns this rating to products that meet rigorous requirements for energy consumption.

According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a computer with an ENERGY STAR label can:

  • save up to 130 kWh of electricity, and
  • prevent up to 200 lbs. of green house gas emissions.

In July 2009, testing will begin to assign a more stringent set of requirements under Version 5.0 of ENERGY STAR.

Before purchasing new or replacement computers, visit the ENERGY STAR’s website to find:

Get Credit

Increasingly, consumers want to buy products and services from green companies. If your business is committed to environmentally sound technology practices, consider a free affiliate membership in the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.

The goal of this program is to “reduce computer power consumption by 50 percent by 2010.” Publicize your organization’s part in achieving this goal to get credit from consumers for your sustainability practices.

By joining Climate Savers, a business commits to:

  • buying ENERGY STAR rated computers
  • acquiring energy efficient servers
  • widely deploying power management

Climate Savers estimates the marginal cost of meeting these guidelines at $20 per computer and $30 per server. However, they suggest that a business will recoup these costs in energy savings in just 2 to 3 years.

Power Down

Power management is a critical part of a well rounded approach to sustainable technology practices. The EPA estimates that no more than 10% of PCs in use in organizations have power saving capability enabled.

This is a missed opportunity that the EPA suggests could represent a savings of $25-75 per PC annually. Exact savings vary by region, but Climate Savers figures that power saving capabilities could cut overall energy consumed by 60%.

Windows Vista makes it possible for network administrators to set their own power management guidelines, but Windows XP does not. The EPA offers a free download of EX GPO software, which enables Windows XP users to implement power management practices.

Reuse or Recycle Responsibly

When the time comes to retire an old computer, decide whether the computer is suitable for repurposing or ready for recycling.

Many charitable organizations have initiatives in place to refurbish and reuse all types of electronics for a good cause. You can find a list of some of these programs at my GreenElectronics.com. You can also contact local schools or charities directly to see if they might be interested in accepting a donation.

If your computer or other electronics are too far gone for reuse, then the goal is to recycle them properly. Check with your local recycling center for a drop off location or visit the EPA’s website to Plug-In to eCycling Partners.

By Tracey van Marcke. Tracey is a former hospital administrator and current chief executive of an environmentally conscious family. She specializes in writing about green topics and the health care industry and can be reached at tracey@pennedperspective.com.

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