Purchasing Electronic Equipment Responsibly: Check for Certifications

When purchasing new electronic and computer equipment, one way for companies to be more conscientious is to choose vendors that have sustainability certifications. The following are certifications used for electronic equipment and ensure that the product has met or exceeded certain requirements for energy, resource and toxic chemical use.

Energy Star is by far the most well-known environmental certification. It is essentially a energy starcooperative effort of the EPA and the DOE. Many think of refrigerators when they think of Energy Star ratings. However, the system extends to notebooks, desktops, monitors, all-in-one devices, and scanners. These electronic devices must usually meet two standards. First, they must automatically go into a “low-power” mode when they are not being used. Second, they can only use a certain maximum of power when they are being used. The DOE is promoting energy savings and the EPA wants to decrease greenhouse gases.

epeatElectronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is an online tool that assists buyers to evaluate products using environmental criteria. It looks at 51 elements in eight different categories. It is derived from IEEE Standard 1680-2006. There are rating levels named Gold, Silver, and Bronze. A bronze rating is awarded when all 23 required standards are met. The upgrade to silver occurs when those criteria are met, along with at least half of the other 28 optional standards. Finally, the Gold award goes to products that meet the required standards and 3/4 of the optional ones. At the EPEAT website one can scroll to the product that they need and quickly determine specific items that are EPEAT certified.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is a set of standards regarding roHSdangerous substances in electronics that comes from the European Union (EU). These standards do allow for “trace amounts” in some cases. It does set specific standards for limiting the amount of cadmium, mercury, lead, etc. that can be present in a product. Today, one can select the certifications that your organization wants to meet, and then locate the products that meet the standards.

Our consultants can guide you further in your pursuit of green products and how to choose them. Please contact us for further information.

How to Achieve a Paperless Office

Achieving a paperless office is a great way to go green for the New Year. Going paperless reduces the carbon footprint for your office, saves money, increases efficiency and promotes sound data organization. Here are some ideas and tips that are easy to implement and are zero cost.

Request Electronic Files from Vendors: Paper documents that are usually received by external entities such as vendors can be scanned and saved as a PDF file on your computer system. However, why not eliminate this process altogether and ask that vendors send all information electronically. If there is a high volume or size of information that needs to be distributed, consider using an online cloud based system to transfer documents such as Google Drive or DropBox.

Replace a Fax Machine with a Cloud Service: Many online services can be used that can convert a standard fax to a PDF document to store online or sent to your office via email. This is a great way for your office to have a real fax number but not need a dedicated fax machine. The use of a cloud service for receiving faxes eliminates the need to print out a fax on paper.

Print or Save Documents as a PDF: Documents that are obtained online or created as a text document or even a spreadsheet can be saved as a PDF file instead of a printed document. Often multiple formats that need to be consolidated into one document can be done through PDF. Simply convert each document into a PDF, and through the PDF tool, combine those documents into one PDF. This eliminates the need to print each document out only to re-scan it as one document. Both Adobe Acrobat and Nuance are the more popular PDF tools.

Organize Your Shared Drive: One of the barriers for many employees becoming paperless is that they aren’t sure where the data is located electronically. Shared drives, as well as local drives, are a mess and users find it difficult to find and access electronic information quickly and therefore print documents for easy access. Take time and get your shared drive organized. If you need help, download the guide “How to Organize Electronic Documents for Shared Drive Networks”

If you are interested in achieving a paperless office, then contact us for more information.