For organisations that have implemented formal substantiality/environmental policies, green procurement will already be a focus of ICT departments. However, even without this level of corporate commitment, attention to green procurement in ICT can provide significant organisational benefits. Green procurement items that I have seen specified in recent RFPs and purchasing contracts include:
•Information of energy usage. This might include power consumption while the equipment is (a) operating (b) in sleep mode (c) on standby (d) switched off, but power point still on. For printers and copiers, energy consumption for peripherals such as collators and duplexers should be asked for separately.
•Equipment cooling requirements — equipment that requires precisely cooled environments can use large amounts of power for air-conditioning.
•Printers and copiers with duplex capability and print shrinkage capability, and the ability to set these options as defaults.
•Information on usage of consumables. This sometimes takes the format of a list of any components that would normally need replacing during the product's working life together with, for each item, (a) the frequency the item normally needs replacing given the specified usage rate; (b) the unit cost; and (c) the unit cost of remanufactured versions of the consumable, if supplied.
•Minimum lifespan requirements and preferences for products that can be upgraded rather than replaced, and that are designed for easy recycling of parts at the end of the equipment's life
•Preferences for remanufactured or recycled equipment components.
•Requirements for the supplier to take products back for recycling at the end of their useful life.
•Requirements regarding packaging, for example requiring that the supplier will take back packaging for reuse or recycling after delivery and asking for information on the types of packaging used in delivering the product, the total weight per unit, the proportion of recycled material used and whether the packaging can be recycled locally. Where many units are purchased at the one time, it is also possible to request multi-packing.
•Information on operating noise levels.
•External verification of environmental claims, e.g. reputable third-party environmental labelling (e.g. Energy Star and the Environmental Choice tick), ISO 14001 certification for the supplier and supply chain.
•Information on the supplier’s environmental policies,
•Careful design of service agreements, warranties and pricing to ensure alignment with cost and resource saving initiatives, such as use of remanufactured consumables and duplex printing.
The other way in which the IT department can contribute to environmental efforts within the organisation is by educating users on energy-efficient usage of IT equipment.
Screen savers do not save energy — screen savers should be set to ‘none’ or ‘blank screen’, or even better, monitors should be switched off even for short absences from the computer. Equipment should be switched off overnight and when not in use. Office equipment that is no longer needed should be recycled wherever possible.
Look for disposal services for computers and other office equipment.
Buying green need not be hard, or expensive. As mentioned above, there are trustworthy and reliable eco-labelling programmes that can assist with making informed decisions about green ICT products. And by considering issues such as packaging, potential for reuse and recycling, operational, maintenance and disposal costs, and use of energy and consumables; ICT purchasers are more likely to make an informed decision that minimises whole-of-life cost, not just upfront costs.
Averill Dickson is a senior lawyer at Simmonds Stewart, a boutique technology law firm providing corporate and commercial legal services focused on the New Zealand technology sector. With almost 20 years in the technology sector under her belt, Averill has extensive experience advising on the corporate and commercial aspects of technology businesses and transactions. Find out more at simmondsstewart.com or follow her on Twitter @averilldickson.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.