Report Finds Green Computers Offer Significant Environmental Benefits

A significant reduction in energy usage and toxic materials are among the environmental benefits of buying high-performance, environmentally friendly computer equipment.

On July 17, the Green Electronics Council (GEC) released a report measuring the environmental benefits from the sales of EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) registered "green" computers. Among its findings, the report states that the purchase of more than 36 million EPA-approved computer desktops, laptops and monitors has led to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Environmental Benefits Calculator, developed by the University of Tennessee under a cooperative agreement with EPA, the first six months of sales for EPEAT registered green computers when compared with traditional computers produced environmental benefits that included:

  • Saving 13.7 billion kilowatt-hour of electricity, enough to power 1.2 million U.S. homes for a year.
  • Saving 24.4 million metric tons of materials, equivalent to the weight of 189 million refrigerators.
  • Preventing 56.5 million metric tons of air pollution, including 1.07 million metric tons of global warming gases (the equivalent of removing 852,000 cars from the road for a year).
  • Preventing 118,000 metric tons of water pollution.
  • Reducing toxic material use by 1,070 metric tons, equivalent to the weight of 534,000 bricks, including enough mercury to fill 157,000 household fever thermometers.
  • Avoiding the disposal of 41,100 metric tons of hazardous waste, equivalent to the weight of 20.5 million bricks.

"And those numbers are based on products sold during the last half of 2006," said Jeff Omelchuck, GEC director. "There are now more than 575 EPEAT registered green products from 21 different manufacturers. We predict the benefits next year will be even bigger."

More information on EPEAT can be found at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/epp/pubs/products/epeat.htm. To access the report, visit http://www.epeat.net.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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