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Green Computers, Part Five
Alex Steffen, 14 Jul 04

We've covered green computers before, but the CBC's done a whiz-bang job of explaining why designing new, green computers is such an important goal.

Turns out the best way to shrink your computer's footprint is to extend it's lifespan by upgrading it instead of replacing it. And smart power management can reduce the juice you pulling down to power it.

But if you do need to buy a new one, greener machines are starting to show up on the shelves. The current benchmark seems to be 2002's Powermate Eco, "the first desktop PC engineered specifically with the environment in mind. The 'boxless' all-in-one unit has no fan, is constructed with a lead-free motherboard and contains no boron in the LCD display. As a result, it uses less power and produces less heat than traditional PCs, and is also Energy Star compliant." (Anyone got a better suggestion for the current state of the art?)

Eventually, reversible computing promises to both speed computers up and make them run greener, but that's still on the whiteboard.

In the meantime, it's possible to clean up the way computers are made, as the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition explains, especially if computer manufacturers are required to "take back" used computers for recycling. (SVTC's the group that launched the Toxic Dude campaign, to get college students to force Dell to take back old computers. If you're really into this stuff, check out their computer report card which rates the various manufacturuers' performance.)

Finally, some environmental group oughta jump on this idea for a green computer gaming tournament, requiring that the computers be run on human-powered electrical generators, combining athletics, gaming competition and an illumination of the value of energy-efficient machines.

[the BBC illustration above details toxic chemicals found in today's computers: 1: Lead in cathode ray tube and solder; 2: Arsenic in older cathode ray tubes; 3: Selenium in circuit boards as power supply rectifier;4: Polybrominated flame retardants in plastic casings, cables and circuit boards; 5: Antimony trioxide as flame retardant; 6: Cadmium in circuit boards and semiconductors; 7: Chromium in steel as corrosion protection; 8: Cobalt in steel for structure and magnetivity; 9: Mercury in switches and housing.]

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Other "green" or less nasty computers include:
* Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic S2 Green PC
* Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic E600 Green PC
* Dell Optiplex product line
* Headlock, EUD Teknik AB, MAXDATA Systeme
* some Asus laptops, models M2E, L3C and L2

According to the Swan mark database,
EUD Teknik AB and Fujitsu Siemens Computers AB
have a Swan mark

Fujitsu Siemens Scenic, Dell Optiplex
and MAXDATA Systeme GmbH have a Blue Angel

Dell and Headlock have TCO'99 or TCO'95.
Apple has an older version of TCO on some models.

The reason to buy ecolabeled computers?
Take a look at this.

SVTC have a newer report card out.

Posted by: Tatu Siltanen on 14 Jul 04



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