Victory: It’s Yours for the Taking

Wondering how to begin your journey into the wild green yonder? They’re called ‘victory projects’. They’re simple, cost-effective initiatives that rarely require approval beyond senior IT management. They also yield big dividends for your business and the environment. Without the need to change behaviors or collaborate with other departments, your end users will end up being greener, even if from where they stand it is business as usual.

The philosophy is simple: go for the easy win. In attending to the low hanging fruit – and there is plenty to be had in most companies – you can build the case for those really ambitious projects that require significantly more in the way of resources and capital investment.

We’ve outlined three ideas that will give you a fast start out of the gates. Not only will you reap some early wins, you will also enjoy knowing that you’re laying the foundation for bigger green things to come.

PC Power Management

The lowly desktop makes up to 45 percent of the overall IT carbon footprint of your technology systems. (And to think the data center has been the one getting the bad rap!) However, there’s an easy solution: Turn off your computers. Unfortunately, while 80 percent of PCs are turned off most—but not all—of the time, 20 percent never are. That’s a lot of wasted energy.

Enter PC Power Management. The benefit of implementing this solution is that you remove the biggest stumbling block to energy conservation—user behavior. To reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, automate powering down of your PCs according to a schedule that you set. The software saves unused data before shutting down and, as a bonus, supplies you with all the reporting you might need to prove the ROI. This can amount to more than $50 per PC per year. Put another way, you can pay back the cost of the average PC Power Management System within three to six months.

Being Green Means Buying Green

Until recently, choosing green notebooks, PCs, and monitors was a bit like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. EPEAT—short for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool—is a US Environmental Protection Agency-approved guideline designed to help IT purchasers find green versions of these products. Like Energy Star on steroids, EPEAT-registered products must not only be energy efficient, they must also meet an additional 23 benchmarks to achieve the entry level Bronze designation. These include the elimination of environmentally sensitive materials in the manufacturing process, easier upgradeability, and safer recyclability at the end of the product’s minimum three-year warranty-protected life. (Achieving Silver or Gold designation is even more intense, requiring the product to possess a minimum of 50 percent or 75 percent of another 28 criteria, respectively.)

But beyond being a mandatory purchasing criterion for the U.S. Federal Government and a number of states or provinces and cities across North America, EPEAT has continued to fly under the radar. That is, until Softchoice added search functionality to to make it easy to find and acquire products based on their EPEAT rating.

In addition to searching and sorting your search results using the EPEAT ratings on, you can follow the link to the Environmental Benefits calculator. Simply enter your EPEAT-registered purchases to quantify the business and environmental ROI for those particular notebooks or PCs.

Safe Hardware Disposal

Based on conservative estimates, 50,000 tons of lead, 50 tons of cadmium, and 10 tons of mercury go into North American landfills every single year. These are common ingredients in the average PC. But the worst environmental damage as a result of these heavy metals is taking place in China and in Africa; this is where the vast majority of our old systems end up. In the communities that have built entire economies around extracting valuable metals like copper, gold, and platinum from our junk, the water often runs black with toner and toxic chemicals while fumes from burning away worthless plastics fill the air.

So why is this issue allowed to persist? It comes down to the fact that, in order to meet our local 100 percent-no-landfill policies, many recyclers simply send crates of e-waste to be dumped abroad. The well-intentioned IT manager wants to do the right thing, but given the scale of abuse, how can you tell whether or not your recycler of choice is operating on the straight and narrow? One telltale sign of shady dealings is if they offer to take your old systems off your hands for free. The reality is safe recycling costs money, and we have to be willing to pay for it in order to prevent unnecessary environmental damage.

But before you go to the dust heap, you may want to consider whether or not that old PC might still be of value, if not to you, then to someone else. Ask around: There are a number of charities that will happily take your systems and put them to good use, at least for a little while longer. And when it is time to bid goodbye, make sure you take the proper steps to wipe your drives of any sensitive data. There are software programs that can do this for you. A reputable recycler will also present you with a certificate of destruction, which lets you know that everything has been handled with the highest standards of security and environmental responsibility.

About Melissa Alvares

Melissa was the head of Softchoice’s campaign marketing team, responsible for providing organizations with information on the latest technology trends, insights and solutions from the desktop to the data center.