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Putting More Green Into IT

green_it.jpgThe European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substance Directive is forcing companies to ask how they can green their operations, writes Christopher Lynch on Managing Technology. The regulation took effect in 2006 and forbids the use of substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium in electronic products.

Instead of placing the burden of recycling on consumers, Europe also requires the IT industry to provide recycling programs, which has resulted in many makers of electronics to include “takeback” initiatives.

Although the regulations only applies to electrical and electronic products for sale in EU member countries, U.S. companies are making a point to green their operations – and cultures –  in order to gear up for possible future legislation.

In June, for example, Bangalore-based IT services firm Wipro Technologies launched a companywide initiative called Eco Eye that calls upon every employee to consider how everyday actions impact the environment.

The U.S. Government said earlier this year that it plans to require federal agencies to buy PCs and computer monitors that are energy efficient and include reduced levels of toxic chemicals.

By 2010, Gartner believes that half of all IT firms will issue environmental statements, and a third of them will place one or more environmental considerations among their top six buying criteria.

Forrester’s new report, “Is Green IT Your Emperor with No Clothes?” recommends IT departments to establish a “green baseline.”

But it can be hard to separate real green computing metrics from mere marketing hype. Companies have a great resource in a service called the Electronic Product Environmental Assistance Tool (EPEAT) set up by Green Electronics Council. The web-based tool assesses desktop and notebook PCs and monitors based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ official environmental performance standard.

Worldwide sales of EPEAT products have increased 150 percent since 2006, when the EPEAT system was first introduced, and totaled more than 109 million individual units, according to the Green Electronics Council’s EPEAT 2007 Environmental Benefits report.

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