Laurie Nord, an BC Information Technology student recently did an audit to figure out how many Bellevue College computers are EPEAT certified as a service learning project part of Gwyneth Jones’s Environmental Science course.
There are many different sustainability certifications or ratings that products can earn nowadays. The leading certification for electronics is EPEAT, giving electronic producers the ability to prove their products have a reduced impact on the envir0nment. In 2010 Amazon started highlighting EPEAT products to help consumers make ethical purchasing choices. Electronics tend to contain highly toxic chemicals, and as time goes on more and more companies are working to reduce the negative impacts of their products. Also, as technology advances, our ability to produce these goods without the long list of toxics is becoming more possible. EPEAT ratings go from Bronze to Gold. Bronze requires a product pass all of their qualifications which can include Energy Star Ratings as well as sourcing of materials, while Gold requires they complete at least 75% of EPEATs optional qualifications. Certifications are available in three product categories: PCs and Displays, Imaging Equipment, and Televisions.
Laurie found that Bellevue College has around 2294 computers, 1742 of which are EPEAT rated (1736 Gold, 6 Silver). This means our school is over 3/4ths of the way towards having all of our computers rated for environmental sustainability. There are always improvements that can be made, as this number is not considering the monitors, keyboards, or mice attached to the computers. It is also important to note that computers with custom parts may not be fully EPEAT rated as the custom part might not have been certified. This gives us a benchmark to work from. With a majority of our computers already EPEAT certified it makes it clear we are well within reach only stocking computers that are EPEAT certified.
This project motivated the colleges Information Resources department to review each purchase for EPEAT certification.
Here is a great info graphic showing the value of EPEAT products: EPEAT Infographic (PDF)