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Searching for green IT products

Softchoice launches new initiative to inform customers on green technology by providing 1,500 green products on its Web site

Customers who are looking for green IT products but could not find them or distinguish them from others now have a choice.Softchoice, through an alliance with EPEAT (Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool, is offering 1,500 environmentally friendly skus on its Web site www.softchoice.com.

The little known EPEAT is managed by the non-profit Green Electronics Council and supported by Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S. The EPEAT system works with IT vendors to declare product conformance to a comprehensive set of environmental criteria in eight environmental performance categories.

According to Melissa Quinn, who was hired by Softchoice to run this project as sustainability programs manager, called this ­effort a world first in the environ­mental movement.

Quinn has learned through this two month process that RFPs are asking for a bidder’s environmental strategy. “This (EPEAT) system is a great way to green their own business by greening their own supply chain,” she said.

She added that the green IT market is more credible because the EPEAT-approved products do not cost any more, but offer better energy savings and are built to last longer.

“This is a first step for a company to go green. The easiest thing they can do is to go on an EPEAT purchasing program where they will find products from Lenovo, HP, Toshiba and other leading manufacturers,” she said.

Softchoice’s services manager Edwin Janson said the firm tried to be more e-friendly, both internally and with customers, but it wasn’t until working with EPEAT that they realized what the true impact could be.

“It hit us over the head. We did a deep dive to get all the right environmental attributes and it was a crying shame. We learned we had to do our part to educate the market with the right information at the right time,” he said.

With that Softchoice and EPEAT have set up three 30 minute Webinars on the environmental and business benefits of EPEAT registration. The Webinars dates are May 2nd, 9th, and 16th. The start time is at 2 p.m. Eastern time and you can register at http://webinar.softchoiceservices.com/EPEAT.

EPEAT evaluates electronic products on three tiers of environmental performance and then gives them a colour grade of bronze, silver and gold with gold being the highest grade attainable.

Currently EPEAT grades only computers, laptops and monitors, but Janson said that they are working to get printers and servers included in the future. The testing benchmarks are the elimination of environmentally sensitive materials in the manufacturing process, product longevity, end of life management and energy conservation.

Recently, the U.S. Federal Acquisition Regulations now require federal agencies to purchase at least 95 per cent EPEAT-registered products in all relevant electronic product categories.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has set a standard of at least bronze for IT purchasing, Janson said.

The business decision to partner with EPEAT was a wise one, Quinn said citing a recent IDC study that found that 80 per cent of executives saying that green IT is important for their organization, but that only 15 per cent have the tools to make the right decision.