Energy Star 5.0 Debunked

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As the new standard comes into effect, Peter Hopton takes us through half a dozen of the leading “eco marks” out there and discusses their practical implications

Green standards, energy efficiency – isn’t it all rather confusing?

Among the IT industry standards, there’s; EPEAT Bronze/Silver/Gold, Blue Angel, Green Ticks, Quick Wins, Eco Flower, Energy Star 4, Energy Star 5, etc. The list goes on, there are so many standards, but which ones are meaningful for making a buying decision for the environmentally conscience purchaser?

There are two different areas of sustainable IT covered by different standards, namely Operational Energy & Carbon Efficiency or Ecological Content.

Energy Star

Energy Star is a standard that concentrates on energy efficiency of products. Energy consumption represents around 80 percent of the carbon footprint of most IT equipment. Saving energy is probably the most important criteria used for buying equipment, as it has a large global warming impact and can result in savings in the total cost of ownership. Energy Star is a joint EU/US standard administered by the US environmental protection agency. Energy Star’s aim is to certify the most efficient 25 percent of equipment.

Energy Star is reviewed regularly and involves intensive market consultation prior to the adoption of the next revision of a standard. With desktop computers, we’re currently between standards, the new Energy Star 5.0 standard will come into effect for all equipment made after 1st July 2009. Energy Star 4.0, the previous standard, is now viewed as quite relaxed; Energy Star 5.0 equipment uses at least 30 percent less energy.

In the EU, rule 106/2008 states that Energy Star for Desktop PC’s is to be used as a minimum efficiency measure for all public sector procurement. This means that machines don’t have to be registered, but should be more efficient than the standard required in order to be procured with public money.

With the impending effective date of energy star 5.0 on July 1st public sector buyers should consider their existing product standardisation and contracts for compliance with 106/2008. This date is right in the middle of the educational buying season and could leave a number of institutions short of compliance with the standard.

What this means to your electrical bill

Energy Star 5.0 splits equipment into 4 categories; A, B , C and D. In short these categories represent single, dual, triple and quad core systems respectively. The Energy Star 5 standard revolves around a metric called Total Energy Consumption (TEC) – an estimate of how much electricity you’ll use per year, in KWh. TEC assumes your machine is off 55 percent of the time, on 40 percent of the time and asleep 5 percent of the time. To pass Energy Star 5 for a category B (dual core) machine, it would need to use less than 175KWh per year.

Energy Star have recently launched a specification for Servers v1.0, which identifies the most efficient server equipment, this specification is scheduled for regulation in the EU around September 2009, when it will become the minimum standard for server procurement.

In practical terms what this means is that you should ask your suppliers for the TEC of Energy Star certified desktops, some products on the market beat the standard by over 60 percent and can offer great energy savings.