Government Technology

U.S. Federal Government Increases Commitment to EPEAT Green Computing

January 10, 2008 By

"Integrating an EPEAT purchasing requirement into the FAR is the next logical step in the process, and we are happy to see it proceeding."

In another step to ensure that all Federal agencies purchase and use the 'greenest' computers available, the U.S. federal government has integrated a requirement for use of EPEAT (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) into the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) -- the 'bible' of the federal purchasing sector. A Presidential Executive Order in January 2007 called on federal agencies to ensure that 95 percent or more of all computers they purchase are qualified under the EPEAT green computer purchasing standard; the proposal to include this requirement in the FAR will make it standard practice for all federal government purchasers.

"The FAR provides every federal purchaser with a blueprint for action," said Jeff Omelchuck of the Green Electronics Council (GEC), the nonprofit group that manages the EPEAT system, "We are thrilled that the federal government's commitment to using the EPEAT green computer purchasing system will be embodied in these regulations."

The EPEAT system, which was developed and implemented through a stakeholder process supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, evaluates computer desktops, laptops, and monitors based on 51 environmental criteria. All EPEAT-registered products must meet 23 mandatory environmental performance criteria. An additional 28 optional criteria are used to determine whether products earn EPEAT Bronze, Silver or Gold recognition. The EPEAT standard is ANSI approved and was formally adopted in 2006 as Standard 1680 of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

Total purchases of EPEAT-registered green computers during the first six months after the system's July 2006 launch resulted in remarkable environmental benefits, at a time when the EPEAT registry contained far fewer products than are now listed. Compared to conventional products, purchasing EPEAT products:

  • Saved 13.7 billion kWh of electricity, enough to power 1.2 million U.S. homes for a year
  • Saved 24.4 million metric tons of materials, equivalent to the weight of 189 million refrigerators
  • Prevented release of 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
  • Prevented release of 118,000 metric tons of water pollution
  • Reduced toxic material use by 1,070 metric tons, including enough mercury to fill 157,000 household fever thermometers
  • Avoided the disposal of 41,100 metric tons of hazardous waste

"Because of the immense potential for environmental benefit, we are committed to make EPEAT purchasing a standard practice for every federal government purchaser," commented Ed Pinero, the federal environmental executive, "Millions of dollars are already being used to purchase EPEAT products. NASA, the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and Interior, the General Services Administration, EPA, and the Executive Office of the President, among other federal agencies, are already using EPEAT. Integrating an EPEAT purchasing requirement into the FAR is the next logical step in the process, and we are happy to see it proceeding."

The FAR proposal is an interim final rule -- meaning that it takes effect immediately, though it is open for comment by interested parties until February 25.

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