Computers and Monitors
All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.
Purchasing decisions regarding computers and monitors should take environmental factors into consideration. In some cases, one of the best environmental and economic options for obtaining these electronics can be reuse of equipment that has been decommissioned by one department but can still meet needs elsewhere (Reduce then Reuse then Recycle). It is important to take the full life cycle of the equipment, recycling or waste disposal options/costs, into consideration when purchasing. Electronic equipment may contain toxins which can harm the environment.
Project Talking Points
- In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched ENERGY STAR, a voluntary labeling program that is designed to promote and recognize energy-efficiency in monitors, climate control equipment, and other technologies. This resulted in the widespread adoption of sleep mode among consumer electronics. Concurrently, the Swedish organization TCO Development launched the TCO Certification program to promote low magnetic and electrical emissions from cathode ray tube or CRT-based computer displays. This program was later expanded to include criteria on energy consumption and the use of hazardous materials in construction.
- Electronic equipment may contain hazardous substances that can harm human health. These chemicals include chlorinated plastics in cable wiring, lead in cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, brominated flame-retardants in computers, and mercury in LCD displays.
- Improper disposal of electronic equipment poses a significant threat to public health and the global environment. When electronic products are incinerated or dumped in a landfill, they can release heavy metals and other hazardous substances that contaminate groundwater and pollute the air.
- There are multiple environmental and health endpoints. Toxins like mercury and cadmium harm human health and wildlife. Huge volumes of e-waste exceed carrying capacity of waste systems and expose workers (particularly in developing countries) to health hazards and are an inefficient use of natural resources. These volumes of e-waste also increase the release of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.
- Some hazardous e-waste is being exported to developing countries, a practice that violates international export law as well as domestic laws in the importing countries. Read this global overview from Healthcare Without Harm for complete information.
- With increased use of limited heavy metal resources from high use of computers and related equipment that quickly become obsolescent, EPP strategies are essential.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
Cost savings – Energy-efficient and green technology computers and monitors are widely available and competitively priced. The cost savings comes primarily in the considerable amount of energy saved by using these products. According to ENERGY STAR, if all computers sold in the U.S. met ENERGY STAR requirements the savings in energy costs alone would grow to $1.8 billion each year. Hospitals can also achieve significant cost savings by refurbishing old computers and recycling usable parts, which reduces overall spend.
Environmental benefits – Responsibly purchased computers and monitors that take end of life management into consideration significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and toxins being released into the environment. This means cleaner air, soil, and water.
Health and safety benefits (satisfaction and quality) – What is good for the environment is good for patients, staff, and the community. They all benefit from cleaner air, soil, and water. Customers and staff also benefit from the savings from these purchases allowing more dollars to be invested in patient welfare and items that enhance staff safety and satisfaction.
EPEAThas model policy language, sample contract language and environmental criteria for PCs and displays.
- Understand your healthcare facility’s policy on reuse, redeployment, and end of life disposition of IT equipment. If a comprehensive IT equipment purchasing/reuse/end-of-life management policy is not in place, consider establishing one.
- Work with IT to assess all relevant computer equipment. In most cases they already have these records and a schedule for upgrades. Decide which products can be reused or refurbished. Educate your employees about the environmental footprint of electronic equipment to get their support for refurbishing rather than replacing.
- For new purchases, consult the Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool (EPEAT®). EPEAT® is a comprehensive environmental rating that helps identify greener computers and other electronic equipment. Released in June 2006, EPEAT helps large institutional buyers factor the environment into their computer purchasing decisions. More than 50 manufacturers participate which means product choice is not limited by an EPEAT requirement. Also consult the Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (EEBC). The EEBC is intended to assist institutional purchasers, including Federal Electronic Challenge (FEC) program participants, in quantifying the benefits of environmentally sound management of electronic equipment. The Calculator estimates the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing EPEAT-registered products, in addition to improvements in equipment operation and end-of-life management practices.
- EPEAT ranks equipment as Bronze/Silver/Gold based on 50+ criteria that address all phases of the product life cycle, including toxins reduction, energy efficiency (ENERGY STAR is required), design for recycling, recycled and/or bio-based content, design for extended useful life, and availability of manufacturer collection and recycling.
- Require EPEAT® Silver or higher in procurement contracts to address multiple environmental impacts in one specification. EPEAT registry listings are subject to ongoing audits to ensure manufacturer’s declarations are fully supported.
- EPEAT currently covers desktops, laptops, workstations, thin client devices, and displays. Visit www.epeat.net for complete information.
- Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator tool from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
- ENERGY STAR Procurement materials and calculator.
- EPEAT Product Database.
If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below
Understand the objectives between IT product and operations choices and environmental degradation and tools and recourses to assist in IT purchase and management decisions in this case study from Kaiser Permanente.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
Currently there is no federal mandate to responsibly purchase or recycle computers. However, the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2011 has been filed with bi-partisan sponsorship in both the House and Senate. The bill would make it illegal to send toxic e-waste to developing nations.
There are currently 25 states with e-waste laws. Click here to determine if your state is one of them.
Your state may have an e-waste program in place that governs manufacturer take back or other options for safely disposing of outdated IT equipment. Find an e-Steward Recycler in your area.
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) is a non-profit corporation formed to establish, maintain, and endorse a standardized set of relevant benchmarks that can be applied to the newest generation of high-performance computers. SPEC’s benchmark and published results can be found by following this link.
Cross References: LEED
LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
- Materials and Resources, Credit 2.1, Sustainable Purchasing – Electric-powered Equipment, 1 Point.
- Materials and Resources, Credit 8, Solid Waste Management – Durable Goods, 1 Point.
Cross References: GGHC
GGHC v2.2 2008 Revision
- Environmentally Preferred Purchasing, Prerequisite 2, Electronic Assets Environmental Management Plan.
- Environmentally Preferred Purchasing, Credit 5.2, Electronics Purchasing & End of Life Management: Office & Commercial Electronic Equipment Purchasing, 1 Point.
WASTE: Donation Programs - Beneficial Reuse Programs.
WASTE: Use Sustainable Purchasing (EPP) strategies to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and generation of hazardous chemical waste.
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
- EPEAT-rated products.
- Responsible Purchasing Network Guide to Office Electronics.
- Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI) is an effort to reduce the electric power consumption of PCs in active and inactive states. The CSCI provides a catalog of green products from its member organizations and information for reducing PC power consumption.
- The Green Grid is a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. It was founded in February 2007 by several key companies in the industry: AMD, APC, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Rackable Systems, Sun Microsystems, and VMware. The Green Grid has since grown to hundreds of members, including end-users and government organizations, all focused on improving data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE).
- The Green500 list rates supercomputers by energy efficiency megaflops/watt, encouraging a focus on efficiency rather than absolute performance.
- Click here for a list of environmental benefits of green electronics purchasing from EPEAT.
- The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has put together a Green Purchasing website. Visit their website for tips on extending your product’s lifespan, resources for identifying environmentally preferable products, and other helpful tools. Businesses and universities can show their commitment to greening their organizations by taking CEH’s “Sustainable Electronics Pledge.”
- SUPPLY CHAIN
- Waste Reduction
- Waste Minimization
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