EU commits to leaner, greener office equipment

20 Dec 2007

Following a year of heavy investment and increased awareness in green technology and reducing carbon footprints, the European Commission has introduced new regulations for the EU-US Energy Star programme with a view to regulating office equipment used within EU institutions.

The Energy Star programme originally began in the US in 1992 as a government effort to encourage energy efficiency amongst consumer products and first started out with computer equipment but soon spread to appliances, office equipment and lighting.

The new regulation will require all EU institutions and central member state government authorities to go by criteria outlined in the Energy Star programme when buying new IT and general office equipment.

“The requirement of the new Energy Star regulation to apply ambitious energy-efficiency criteria in the public procurement of office equipment will further push manufacturers to put efficient equipment on the market while making good use of public money,” said Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs.

“This achievement proves the EU’s commitment to turn ambitious energy-efficiency goals into reality,” he added.

Senior analyst Ian Brown at UK firm Ovum remarked that it is good to see the commission setting a good example by applying an energy-efficiency prerequisite to the purchase of public sector office equipment because as a major purchaser it will encourage suppliers to adopt a minimum Energy Star standard to all their office equipment.

However, Brown remarked that this new regulation was, in his view, only a small step in the right direction.

“Simply buying Energy Star products will not lead to significant energy savings without changes in behaviour, and IT needs to play its part.

“While most CIOs have enough to do trying to stabilise and reduce costs in the data centre, they shouldn’t neglect their responsibilities for those power-hungry PCs sitting on so many desktops.”

Brown said organisations need to follow good practice in offices with regard to turning off unused equipment at night – much energy is wasted through idle machines.

He gave the example of using software like NightWatchman, which can do the rounds of an office network and switch off computers at night, saving energy and cutting bills.

“These are relatively simple strategies that can lead to demonstrable savings and earn the recognition that IT isn’t always the bad guy, but can be a major contributor to the solution,” added Brown.

By Marie Boran