EFFICIENT COMPUTERS

Early Adopters

Become an early adopter - specify computers like this Energy Star and EPEAT Silv
Become an early adopter - specify computers like this Energy Star and EPEAT Silver rated notebook

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE COMPUTER ENERGY EFFICIENCY

As the home of Silicon Valley and the place where the personal computer was invented, computers are central to the economy and the culture of California. Also a world leader in energy efficiency and environmental stewardship, it's no wonder that California is at the forefront of bringing energy efficiency to computing.

Looking for ways to do your part? This section provides some tips on what you can do to increase computer energy efficiency in your home or organization.

Organizations

  • Implement power management on existing computers. The Energy Star website has useful implementation resources including free software, savings calculators, online training workshops, and free technical assistance.
  • Purchase laptops or compact, laptop-style desktops with LCD screens. Because these systems are optimized for long battery life, they use much less power than traditional computers.
  • Purchase computers and components that are certified energy efficient and/or sustainable. Look for 80 Plus Silver or Gold certified power supplies, EPEAT Gold certified computers, and Energy Star qualified computers, monitors, and laptops. Don't forget to check with your local utility for incentives.
  • Join a computer energy efficiency organization to demonstrate your commitment. Consider joining the Energy Star Low Carbon IT Campaign, becoming a member of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, or getting listed as an EPEAT purchaser.
  • Calculate and publicize your savings. The Energy Star Low Carbon IT Campaign has an easy downloadable calculator to determine savings due to better power management and Energy Star qualified purchases. The Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies also has a downloadable calculator to calculate the energy, material, greenhouse gas, and financial savings achieved by EPEAT-registered products.

Individuals

  • Implement power management on your computer. For help on how to do this, take a look at the Energy Star and Climate Savers Computing Initiative websites.
  • Purchase a laptop or a compact, laptop-style desktop with an LCD screen. Because these systems are optimized for long battery life, they use much less power than traditional computers.
  • Purchase computers and components that are certified energy efficient and/or sustainable. Look for 80 Plus Silver or Gold certified power supplies, EPEAT Gold certified computers, and Energy Star qualified computers, monitors, and laptops. You can also browse the Climate Savers Computing Initiative catalog to find energy efficient computers. Don't forget to check with your local utility for incentives!
  • Calculate your savings, and tell your friends! The Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies has a free calculator that will tell you how much you've saved in greenhouse gas emissions, toxic material and waste generation, water and energy consumption, and, of course, cost.

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Panasonic; Panasonic Toughbook W8

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This ultimate efficiency computer can save nearly 70% relative to the Energy Sta
This ultimate efficiency computer can save nearly 70% relative to the Energy Star standard
Ultra-Efficient Computing

In 2007, Ecos Consulting, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the California Energy Commission decided to test the limits of energy efficient desktop computers. Focusing on reducing power consumption during idle and active modes, their goal was to create both market-ready and ultimate-efficiency computers that would still have good performance.

The team started by selecting the most efficient available motherboard and chips - one of the most important steps in creating an efficient computer. They used processors that can dynamically scale performance to match program requirements, saving energy when processing demands are low, and selected components with low electrical losses.

Next, the team reduced idle power consumption by an additional 25-36% by selecting efficient components. 80 Plus certified power supplies and efficient case fans saved about 7 Watts. Using a single, larger memory chip instead of two smaller ones saved another 1 or 2 Watts, without impacting performance. The team also specified a hybrid hard drive, which supplements the traditional spinning disk with a flash buffer, saving 5 or 6 Watts. New, flash-only hard drives, which have emerged since this research was completed, can save even more energy by eliminating the spinning disk altogether. Plus, these hard drives are faster than traditional hard drives, improving performance.

Putting everything together, the team found that nearly all of their prototypes had sufficient performance to run typical office software under the Microsoft Vista operating system, while consuming 40 to 70% less energy than Energy Star qualified computers.

This translates into a huge savings potential: if all U.S. enterprises adopted the ultimate efficiency computer, corporations could eliminate 11.2 million tons of CO2 emissions, save 16.7 billion kilowatt-hours, and save $1.67 billion in electricity costs.

 

EEC chart

Computers spend most of their time in idle mode, and efficiency improvements in this mode do not impact processing performance, so idle mode savings are an easy way to make a big impact.
 

 

Photo and Chart Credit:  Courtesy of the California Energy Commission and Ecos Consulting

This notebook is rated EPEAT Gold, the highest possible sustainability ranking
This notebook is rated EPEAT Gold, the highest possible sustainability ranking
Sustainable Procurement

SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT IN SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

At the heart of Silicon Valley, the businesses and residents of San Jose are at the forefront of computing. And as one of the ten largest cities in the United States, the City of San Jose is itself a major user of computers. So it's not surprising that as part of its sustainability initiatives, the City of San Jose decided to push the envelope in sustainable computing, becoming the first city to require purchase of EPEAT qualified computers.

San Jose was drafting an RFP for computer purchases in early 2006, just as the EPEAT standards were finalized. Even though no products were yet officially certified, they knew that about 60 models would qualify, so they decided to insert the requirement into the RFP. The requirement was a great success, and has been standard practice in the city ever since.

The city likes the EPEAT system because there are many qualified models available, there are measurable benefits, the standard covers all aspects of sustainability, and the requirement is easy to specify & implement. Plus, the city has found no difference in performance between EPEAT-certified and non-certified computers. In fact, the program has been such a success that by March 2008, the city had purchased 1,776 computers and 1,770 monitors. Thanks to their EPEAT program, by March 2008 the city had saved:

• 1.5 Gigawatt-hours of electricity
• 1 million pounds of materials
• 52,000 pounds of carbon equivalents
• 2.7 million pounds of air emissions
• 6,000 pounds of water emissions
• 60 pounds in toxic materials usage
• 2,100 pounds in hazardous waste
• $126,000

 

 

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Sony Electronics:  SONY VAIO TT Series

Energy Star qualified computers like this one come with automatic power manageme
Energy Star qualified computers like this one come with automatic power management
Power Management

POWER MANAGEMENT AT VERIZON TO SAVE $7 MILLION ANNUALLY

Verizon is one of the largest telecommunications corporations in the world, serving about 100 million customers in the United States and generating revenues of over $97 billion each year. Verizon's workforce numbers nearl