Make IT green

Engineers may be wondering how they can green their own firms, not just their clients' buildings.


Engineers may be wondering how they can green their own firms, not just their clients' buildings. Given that engineers are primarily knowledge workers, the tools of their trade are computers and networks for file-sharing and communications. Information technology (IT) equipment amounts to a lot of toxic materials and energy use, both of which can be actively minimized and managed for a greener facility.

Here are a few simple steps to ensure maximum compliance with today's green initiatives and maintain a proactive stance with environmental protection.


First, ensure that office equipment, to the greatest extent possible, is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star rated. You might be aware of the EPA's Energy Star Buildings Label, which applies to whole buildings, and may specify Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent lights for your clients. But what about the computer's central processing unit and monitor, laptops, power supplies, and other peripherals that you use in the office?


In addition to the Energy Star logo, check that the software-actuated power management functions are actually set and working. The typical states include idle (where the operating system runs without programs), sleep (nothing is running until re-start), and standby (the PC is off, but about 2 W of power remain to resume boot). Also, ensure that Wake Event and Wake On LAN (WOL) features are set and working. Wake Events include mouse movement, keyboard activity, buttons pressed, or other activity that causes the PC to wake up from sleep or standby modes. WOL is the network version.


Beyond Energy Star, consider materials. IT products are made from materials that can amount to toxic waste in landfills. Manufacturers are reducing the amount of toxic waste materials and using more recyclable materials. Newly designed recycling programs are managing product lifecycles better—more than just disposal—so seek companies that offer recycling options to their customers to ensure their products are properly recycled or disposed of.


Large organizations already include disposal and recycling components in their hardware request for proposals as they attempt to comply with national and international standards mandated by the International Organization of Standards (ISO-9001), and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), and Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool directives (EPEAT).


For example, EPEAT, issued by IEEE, helps consumer and organizational purchasing agents identify desktop and laptop computers and monitors that are designed for reduced impact on the environment. EPEAT-registered computers contain lower levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury; are more energy-efficient; and are easier to upgrade and recycle. EPEAT also requires manufacturers to offer safe recycling options for products no longer in use. Look for either the gold, silver, or bronze labels on registered products.


RoHS and WEEE enforce hazardous substance reduction in the European Union. The regulations require the replacement of heavy metals and flame retardants in electronic equipment with less toxic materials. Manufacturers also are required to implement programs for gathering and recycling old equipment.


Author Information

Joe is president and CEO of D-Link Systems Inc. Over 20 years, Joe has successfully driven revenue growth and channel expansion for the North American business unit of D-Link Corp. of Taiwan, and spearheads worldwide development of consumer and business products.

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