In conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Abt Associates has developed a tool that enables companies and other organizations to quantify the positive effects of making "green" decisions when using, reusing, or recycling electronic devices such as computers, monitors, and cell phones. The metrics measured include energy savings, electricity-cost savings, and reductions in greenhouse gases, hazardous waste, municipal solid waste, air-pollutant emissions, water-pollutant emissions, primary materials and toxic materials.
The initial EEBC estimated the environmental benefits associated with notebook computers, desktop processors, cathode ray tube monitors, and liquid crystal display monitors. EPA then asked Abt Associates to expand the calculator's range by including benefits associated with mobile telephone reuse and recycling.
The metrics computed by the EEBC are derived from widely accepted environment-friendly criteria, in large part those of EPEAT (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool of the Green Electronic Council) and FEC (the Federal Electronics Challenge). These criteria include, for example, achievement of a high Energy Star rating, thus reflecting reduced energy costs and lower greenhouse-gas emissions; RoHS (restriction on hazardous substances) compliance for lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium; and average recycled content of packaging.
To make the savings clear, the EEBC expresses benefits in terms of equivalencies. Energy savings, for example, may be translated into the number of homes powered by the corresponding amount of electricity; greenhouse-gas reductions may be given as the equivalent number of passenger cars removed from the road; mercury eliminated is expressible as the number of fever-thermometers foregone; and amounts of toxic materials eliminated may equate to x tons of bricks.
The ability to demonstrate achievements will allow purchasers to communicate the environmental results of their procurement efforts and help manufacturers and retailers justify potential price premiums for greener electronics.
While a Web-based version is expected to be online by the end of 2007, the Excel-based EEBC application is currently available for download at http://eerc.ra.utk.edu/ccpct/eebc/eebc.htmlInterested in information related to this topic? Subscribe to our twice-monthly Information Technology eNewsletter.