Top 10 Green Computer Features: What Makes a Computer Really "Green"?
written by: Sidharth Thakur•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/19/2011
Planning to buy a green computer, but don’t know what to check for? Here’s a list of the features that will help you in deciding whether or not the computer you’re buying is truly green.
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Every electronic device has an impact on the environment, and computers are no exception. So, as more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious, they’re continuously on the lookout for greener solutions. Opting for a green computer will not just be beneficial for the environment, but it will even be easier on your pocket over the long run because of its low energy consumption.
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Distinctive Features of a Green Computer
Let’s now take a look at green computer features--which will help you in determining whether the computer you’re buying is truly green or not. Most computer manufacturers have introduced a series of green PCs, but do investigate the following features to ascertain how green their computers are.
Low Use of Hazardous Elements: A lot of hazardous substances are used in the production of a computer ranging from the more lethal ones like cadmium, lead, chromium, and mercury to the relatively less hazardous ones like flame retardants, pesticides, and chlorinated plastics. A green computer's components should ideally be completely free of these lethal substances; thus IEEE environmental performance criteria requires the manufacturers of green computers to explicitly declare the percentage composition of these substances on the product. As for the less hazardous substances, the focus is on reduction of their use, since their elimination may not be completely possible.
Energy Efficient: That’s one feature of green computers that pleases not just environmental enthusiasts but also the budget-conscious buyer. Every green computer will have an energy star rating on it, and the more the stars the more energy efficient the computer will be. Some green computers are also available with the option of running them on renewable energy like solar energy, for which the manufacturers will supply you with all the required accessories.
Recycled Materials Used for Manufacturing: A truly green computer will have most of its components, especially the plastic ones, made of recycled materials. And the manufacturers are required to declare what percentage of material used in the production of the computer is recycled, with minimum thresholds specified at 10 percent. However, it’s more environmentally friendly to opt for a computer that’s built with more than 25 percent of recycled material. Ideally, printed circuit boards are the only things that may not contain recycled material.
End of Life Recovery: The green computers are designed in such a way that at the end of their life their components can be easily reused, disassembled, or recycled. A minimum of 65% of the parts of the computer should be recyclable or reusable. Apparently, some of the better brands of green computers guarantee a minimum of 90% reusable or recyclable parts. Also, the parts that are hazardous should be marked accordingly for easy identification and expert handling.
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Use of Renewable and Bio-Based Materials: Another of the important green computer features is the increased use of renewable or bio-based materials. Again a minimum of 10 percent of such materials should have been used in the production of the green computer components, and the same must be declared.
Longer Product Life: Green computers come in modular and upgradeable designs with the idea of extending their life cycle. The manufacturers are required to provide a minimum of 3 years' warranty or guarantee, and they must also ensure that the replacement parts will be made available to all buyers up to a minimum of five years. That certainly is one more good reason for you to buy a green computer.
End of Life Take-back Facility: Every green computer comes with a take-back policy, wherein the manufacturer provisions to take back the computer at the end of its life and offer the buyer a new purchase at a competitive price. So, do verify that the brand of green computer that you’re buying offers a buy-back or take-back.
Manufacturer's Certification: Before you settle on a particular brand of green computers, you must ensure that its manufacturer has ISO-14001 certification, which is the bare minimum for a manufacturer to qualify as environmental-policy compliant.
Packaging Material: What’s a green computer that comes in a toxic or non-recyclable packaging? Truly, it isn’t one! So, do check the packaging material details to see that the material used is completely non-toxic and at least 90% of it is recyclable. It will be even better if the packaging is made of recycled material.
EPEAT ratings: Before you make your final decision, do a bit of research on www.epeat.net, where all green computers and laptops have been assigned a rating that will clearly tell you how green the computer you’re buying is. You can find detailed reports on how each of these computers score, on the different environmental criteria.