Federal agencies boost green purchases

More than a dozen federal agencies have reported moving to greener IT through desktop computer purchases. Thirteen agencies have reported that more than 95 percent of their desktop or laptop purchases in 2008 were Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool  (EPEAT)-registered, environmentally preferable, electronic products, according to the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE).

The federal government last year implemented a requirement that all federal agencies purchase 95 percent or higher EPEAT-registered products.

The EPEAT program evaluates computer desktops, laptops, and monitors based on 51 environmental criteria developed through an extensive stakeholder consensus process supported by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPEAT system is managed by the Green Electronics Council, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Portland, Ore.

Twenty-two agencies submitted 2008 progress reports to the Office of Management and Budget and OFEE.

“Thirteen of the 22 Federal agencies reported meeting the goal of 95 percent or higher EPEAT purchasing in their 2008 IT acquisitions, with many others moving toward that rate of compliance,” said Dana Arnold, Acting Federal Environmental Executive. “This is particularly notable because the EPEAT requirements are new and being implemented along with security and other IT requirements,” Arnold said.

The 13 agencies who hit the 95 percent or higher mark purchased more than 500,000 EPEAT-registered desktops, laptops and monitors in 2008. Some specific purchases include:

  • Energy Department: DOE purchased more than 50,000 EPEAT=registered computers and monitors in fiscal 2008, making up  more than 96 percent of DOE's approximately 52,000 total purchases.
  • Environmental Protection Agency: In 2008, EPA used an IT Blanket Purchase Agreement that specifies EPEAT-registered equipment for electronic purchases. EPA estimated that 99 percent of eligible electronics purchases were EPEAT-registered. In fiscal 2009, EPA is standardizing its user-provisioned computer equipment for headquarters employees and providing more than 12,000 EPEAT-registered computers to its staff.
  • General Services Administration: GSA purchased more than 600 EPEAT-certified computers in fiscal 2008. All computers were 100 percentcompliant with EPEAT purchases.
  • NASA: In 2008, the Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA program purchased 12,256 EPEAT-registered computers and monitors for NASA personnel.
  • Social Security Administration: 100 percent of the 24,673 desktop computers purchased by SSA were EPEAT-registered Gold products. All of the 26,948 LCD monitors purchased were EPEAT-registered.
  • State Department: All of State’s Global Information Technology Modernization Program purchases in fiscal 2008 were EPEAT Silver or Gold products.
  • Treasury Department: Of the 64,686 computer desktops, laptops/notebooks, and monitors Treasury purchased in fiscal 2008, a total of 64,491 -- or 99.7 percent -- were EPEAT-registered products.
  • Veterans Affairs Department: 100 percent of the 290,623 Dell desktops and monitors leased by VA between September 2007 and December 2008 were EPEAT Gold or Silver products.

Other agencies on the list included the Commerce, Interior and Labor departments, the Office of Personnel Management and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Compared to traditional computer equipment, all EPEAT-registered computers have reduced levels of cadmium, lead, and mercury to better protect human health and the environment, according to federal officials. They are more energy efficient, which reduces emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases. They are also easier to upgrade and recycle, officials said. Manufacturers must offer environmentally responsible recycling options for all EPEAT-registered products.

For more on EPEAT criteria and qualified products, click here.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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