What ENERGY STAR and other eco-friendly labels actually mean

 In Hardware

Roses are red, violets are blue, your device is green – wait, is that true?

The largest hardware providers are building more energy efficient products while revamping manufacturing to generate fewer emissions and hazardous chemicals. But can you tell whether the laptops your organization is about to purchase are completely energy efficient? There’s no lie detector test, but there are eco symbols – and they’re everywhere. These labels offer a simple reference point for a device’s degree of eco-friendliness, from efficiency to manufacturing methods.

How can you determine if your laptop has environmental integrity? Look for one of these seven eco designations – here’s what they mean.

green IT

ENERGY STAR: This is the label you’re probably most familiar with. Maintained and sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the blue and white ENERGY STAR label is the global standard across IT products, and it’s found on laptops, desktops, monitors, and printers. ENERGY STAR-branded product must meet rigid energy efficiency protocols to qualify for the label.

All of the largest hardware manufacturers sell ENERGY STAR-certified products, which can generate considerable savings for enterprises. For example, one ENERGY STAR-certified Dell computer, equipped with power management features, can save an organization as much as $75 per year. Imagine the savings when buying in bulk!

Make sure your devices have this mark to collect significant electricity savings and reduce your organization’s greenhouse gas emissions.

EPEAT: If you’re ready to take your laptop, desktop, monitor, or printer to the next energy efficiency level, look for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (known as EPEAT) label, which was created by the Green Electronics Council.

EPEAT critiques a product’s longevity, materials used, recyclability, energy efficiency, corporate performance, and even packaging. Registered products are rated on a 23-point environmental performance assessment and can earn an EPEAT Gold, Silver, or Bronze certification if it passes an additional 28-point set of criteria. The label provides a visual sign of a product’s environmental and social impacts based on a wide range of crucial criteria.

GREENGUARD: The fewer chemicals, the better is the message of this lime green label. Set by the nonprofit organization GREENGUARD, this certification verifies that a device is designed for indoor use and contains low chemical emissions. Products are tested for formaldehyde, VOCs, airborne particles, ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide emissions using environmental chamber testing.

TCO Cerified: The TCO Certified standard measures products’ environmental sustainability throughout its entire lifecycle, from manufacturing to its end of life. This Swedish certification examines three main components: a socially responsible environmental management system during manufacturing; ergonomics, health and safety, and emissions during a product’s life; and end-of-life recycling and reduction of hazardous materials and chemicals.

TCO certification isn’t tied to an entire brand; rather each manufacturer chooses which products or product families to certify. This all-in-one label measures a device’s environmental angles from start to finish.

TÜV Rheinland’s Green Product Mark: The Green Product Mark signifies that a product follows Brundtland sustainability concepts, as well as various other environmentally friendly regulations and requirements. Desktops, monitors, routers, and wearable technology can achieve the Green Product Mark.

80 PLUS: Ever notice how your laptop’s internal power supply gets warm? That’s electricity lost to heat rather than powering your device. The 80 PLUS standard verifies power supplies are at least 80 percent efficient at converting electricity to power. Different 80 PLUS certifications (from Plus up to Titanium) signify how efficient power systems are at utilizing power. Dell is a leader in this space, as it was the first manufacturer to achieve 80 PLUS Titanium certification for a server power supply.

EcoLogo: This voluntary certification program establishes strict requirements for handling and disposing of hazardous substances, energy and paper savings, designing for extended life, and reuse and recycling in the Canadian market.

Matching performance with sustainability

Eco labels, like the EPA’s ubiquitous ENERGY STAR and the comprehensive TCO Certified, give us the opportunity to make informed, “greener” choices about our IT products, from desktops to servers. In many cases, these symbols denote energy efficiency, meaning that a device will produce cost savings over the long run versus a non-certified competitor. In the modern IT landscape, performance and energy efficiency can be happily married.

If you’d like to know more about energy efficient hardware, contact your SHI Account Executive.

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