10.1 How to Achieve 80% reduction of computers' climate impact

Hakan Nordin , TCO Development, Stockholm, Sweden
Full Papers
  • Tcopaper-80% reduction.pdf (273.3 kB)
  • The TCO-label has included energy saving criteria for displays since 1992. In EuP reports, it is clear that PCs that are operating in “on” mode when they not in use directly leads to an unnecessary climate impact. Therefore TCO Development started cooperation with the house of culture in Stockholm to address this problem. The solution is “Green IT organization, certified”, a new labeling system which is currently being developed and tested together with the house of culture, a part of Stockholm municipality. Based on EuP studies, TCO Development has calculated that an optimum use can reduce the climate impact of PC operation by 60-70 %.
    To achieve stabilization at approximately 2 degrees warming, IPCC estimate that during the present century, it is necessary to decrease emissions to levels of approximately 50 to 85 percent of today’s levels. The way to reach this is a combination of green progressive procurement and environmentally friendly usage.
    A combination of today’s commercially available products combined with a change in user habits lead to a concrete saving capacities amounting to about 80 or 90 percent, which is in line with IPCC figures.
    When purchasing a new computer, there is a differential factor of 10 from the best to the worse from a climate perspective.
    When it comes to usage, each computer monitor or notebook that is unnecessarily switched on is in itself not a problem. However, when we consider that worldwide computer sales in 2007 totaled 268 million units, it becomes clear that the difference between optimal operation of an energy efficient product and sub-optimal operation of an eco-deficient product design can create vast differences in carbon dioxide emissions. Every hour of unnecessary usage of these 268 million PCs amounts to 340 million kWh of energy consumption, and 17,000 tons of CO2[1]. 80 % reduction of climate impact from computers
    In EuP studies, it is calculated that approximately 70 percent of the climate impact comes from the use phase. This means that green procurement in itself does not solve the problem alone. The combination of activities in both procurement and user habits at work can therefore be powerful.
    In Sweden there are two interesting examples that, when combined, can make a significant difference when it comes to climate impact. One is the case of the TCO label (see above), the other a case of Green procurement with huge impact.
    Verva, the Swedish Administrative Development Agency, coordinates the procurement of framework contracts for products and services in the fields of information and communications for the entire public sector. The last procurement for PCs was worth over 6 million EURO purchased over a period of 2 years. The “green” aspect of the procurement process was probably one of the toughest in the world. The two most interesting requirements were, firstly, the demand for a 20 percent lower energy consumption compared with Energy Star and, secondly, a special section for green PCs with stringent environmental specifications that had a greater weighting in importance than price. This type of procurement requirement has the potential for making a significant contribution to climate impact from PCs in Sweden. Figures will be calculated during beginning 2009.