KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 11 2010

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Greening Your Office IT

Everyone knows that one of the biggest obstacles to going green is the bigger expense associated with green products. Luckily, when it comes to greening your office you don’t have to choose between the bottom line and doing right by the environment.

Trade UP

Green 1Today’s computers are typically 40 to 50 percent more energy efficient than machines from just a few years ago. About half the energy used by older machines is wasted as heat. When shopping for a new machine, look for Energy Star-rated computers that have at least an 85 percent efficiency rating. Replacing desktop computers with laptops will save even more electricity.

Apple’s Mac Mini claims to be the world’s most affordable and energy-efficient computer. According to Apple the Mac Mini’s has been reduced from 110W to 85W and is now 90 percent efficient.

You’ll want to find a local electronic recycler for your old equipment. For a list of electronic recyclers in your area that have pledged to recycle responsibly, check out e-stewards.org. Many local waste collection centers will offer free electronic recycling as part of Earth Day activities.  Check earth911.com for locations near you. Some areas are holding recycling events on 10-10-10.

Tone Down Monitors

Green 2Most monitors are set by default to the brightest setting, which uses about two times as much energy. Dimming the screen brightness a little will decrease energy usage as well as eye strain.

Newer LED backlit screens use less energy and typically come with their own energy saving options.

Ditch Screen Savers

Screen savers prevent your computer from entering sleep mode and waste electricity. They actually make the computer use more energy to run the program.

Invest In Power Strips

Even when turned off, peripherals such as computer speakers and scanners can still draw 5W to 15W each. A PC could use as much as 50W when turned off.  The Department of Energy recommends using a power strip to help eliminate what is known as phantom power draw.

Consider Ink Jets

If you have not made the switch to a paperless office, feel better knowing that Energy Star-rated printers can cut a printer’s energy usage by more than 65 percent. While ink jet or bubble jet printers sacrifice print speed and print quality, they require 10W to 15W to operate instead of 60W to 100W for a laser printer.

Newer printers have features that power down the printer when it is not used to save energy.  If you queue all of your printing for the same time of day, your printer will not have to leave its sleep mode as often.

Turn it off

green 3Surprisingly, only half the nation’s workers power down their machines when leaving the office at night. It’s estimated that shutting down a computer at night can save annually $25 to $75 per PC. If you find that it’s too hard for staff to remember to do this, a free program called EZ GPO is available from Energy Star to aid in basic power management.

Do your Research

New reports find that keeping an office machine four years is most optimal for cost/energy savings. When shopping for new office equipment, look for estimates on the product’s lifespan. A scanner might be expected to save you $7 per year in energy costs, but may only have an expected lifespan of a few years with heavy use. If the price of a particular scanner is more than the savings you can expect over the course of its lifetime, it may not be the right scanner for your business.

If you’d like more information than the power efficiency of an office machine provided by Energy Star; the Green Electronic Council offers an Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). This tool  aids purchasers in assessing the environmental characteristics for over 1000 laptops, desktops, and monitors. Products are rated EPEAT Gold, Silver or Bronze based on meeting 23 required criteria and a percentage of additional, optional criteria. For example, meeting at least 75% of the optional criteria would give a laptop a Gold rating.—Ann Porter

This entry was posted on Monday, October 11th, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business, Green. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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