A Small Business Guide to Green IT

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted June 13, 2012

Running a small business is challenging enough without having to worry about its environmental footprint. Nonetheless, there are solid reasons to adopt eco-friendly practices in the workplace.

If nothing else, building and maintaining a reputation for sustainability can help your business attract customers. A recent Harris Interactive survey conducted for Tork, a maker of hygiene products, found that 82 percent of American adults claim to be well informed about companies and brands with a strong track record for sustainability.

What's more, 80 percent of those consumers let that knowledge guide their purchasing decisions. Why pass up an opportunity to appeal to so many potential customers?

A good way to start establishing your green cred is to cut your energy use -- a cost-savings strategy that can also help improve the bottom line. And today, that means making smarter technology decisions, particularly involving computer hardware and software.

Buying Green PCs

You have a dizzying array of options to choose from when it comes to computer hardware. Once you determine which type of processor, how much storage and the type of extras you need, it's time to see which computer and server models meet the standards of a green PC.

green small business IT

These tips can help your small business go green -- and save green -- at the same time.

How? You can do a lot of the research yourself, like determining whether a system that you have in mind has a 90-plus power supply or a low-power processor. But who has that kind of time?

Instead, take a cue from the federal government. A huge IT buyer, the U.S. government mandates that the majority of the PCs its agencies procure are Energy Star rated or adhere to Federal Energy Management Program standards. It may sound complex, but it isn't.

That's because the feds use a registry called EPEAT that takes the guesswork out of buying energy-saving computers. EPEAT stands for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and there's no shortage of participating vendors including Dell, HP, Apple and Lenovo. The Green IT ratings system meets and in some cases exceeds the Energy Star specification.

The EPA estimates that Americans would save $1.8 billion each year if all the computers sold in the United States met Energy Star requirements. Plus, the equivalent of more than 2 million vehicles in greenhouse gas emissions would disappear.

A quick search of the registry yields desktops, notebooks, workstations and displays that not only save energy, but also meet stringent standards on recyclability, durability and product lifecycle management depending on the rating they receive. EPEAT-rated products are categorized into bronze, silver and gold.

To start, head over to EPEAT's product search page and select the options that best reflect your requirements. Make sure to select "Active Products Only" if you're in the market for the latest hardware offerings and available product lines. Otherwise, click "Active and Archived Products" or "Archived Products Only" if you're looking for refurbished or remanufactured gear.

For instance, as of this writing a search for Dell desktops delivers a healthy 38 results, all of which earned a Gold rating. Not a bad way to kick off your green IT buying.



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