National EPEATs needed now

It doesn’t matter who you ask in the ’environmental IT’ world, no-one can point to a single authoritative source of hard UK or EU information on IT purchases. I’ve rummaged all the reports about how to go about both greening IT and on how to use IT to green the organisation, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, answers there are none.

We have to scour the spec’ sheets then make intelligent guesses, trust the vendors’ claims or use another country’s standards. And, frankly, the most respected one is in the USA. It’s called EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool. It is mandated in US Federal Government purchasing and it is used as the preferred criterion by many green-aware organisations.

EPEAT offers a self-certifying process to manufacturers, which sounds dodgy, but it isn’t. Transparency has become obligatory and, in any case, the EPEAT folk have a verification process. The companies’ products have to comply with the IEEE 1680-2006 standard for environmental performance. And so many companies have signed up that it has become a sort of Olympic arena for them to slog it out for bronze, silver and gold environmental medals.

The problem with EPEAT for buyers outside America is that the equipment is quite often configured differently. It would be terrific if the organisation could spread its wings, but there’s no sign of this happening, although I do remember reading that Computacenter has adopted and adapted EPEAT to help its own customers.

What we need is something a bit more ubiquitous. One organisation that has been involved in this space for years is UK CEED. This stands for the ’UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development’. Part funded by government and partly by business, it covers a wide range of environmental issues, including IT. Its chief executive, Jonathan Selwyn, says, "We believe that comparable energy and other environmental data should be made available for all products to consumers.  EPEAT is a valuable first step voluntary initiative that deserves to be supported by all manufacturers and a UK-version is much needed."

Hear hear, matey, hear hear.

Now who’s going to step up to the plate?

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