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Green computing or green IT, refers to environmentally sustainable computing or IT. It is "the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems -such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems- efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment. Green IT also strives to achieve economic viability and improved system performance and use, while abiding by our social and ethical responsibilities. Thus, green IT includes the dimensions of environmental sustainability, the economics of energy efficiency, and the total cost of ownership, which includes the cost of disposal and recycling. It is the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently.

The goals of green computing are similar to green chemistry; reduce the use of hazardous materials, maximize energy efficiency during the product's lifetime, and promote recyclability or biodegradability of defunct products and factory waste.

Green computing researchers look at key issues and topics related to energy efficiency in computing and promoting environmentally friendly computer technologies and systems include energy-efficient use of computers, design of algorithms and systems for environmentally-friendly computer technologies, and wide range of related topics.

The Green Electronics Council offers the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT™) to assist in the purchase of "green" computing systems. The Council evaluates computing equipment on 28 criteria that measure a product's efficiency and sustainability attributes.

EPEAT™ is now the easiest way to specify affordable, high-performance, environmentally preferable computer desktops, laptops, and monitors. As of the EPEAT standard's one year anniversary, July 2007, over 20 manufacturers had registered more than 600 products and the EPEAT standard has been successfully incorporated into purchasing documents worth more than US$65 billion.

EPEAT™ is a required specification for federal purchasers and is increasingly used by state and local government purchasers and private sector IT managers to 'green' their electronics purchasing.

EPEAT™ rates desktop computers, laptops and monitors based on 51 environmental elements in eight broad categories:

  • Reduction/Elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
  • Material selection
  • Design for end-of-life
  • Product longevity/Life-cycle extension
  • Energy conservation
  • End of life management
  • Corporate performance
  • Packaging

Moreover, EPEAT™ evaluates electronic products according to three categories of environmental performance:

  • Product meets all required criteria
  • Product meets all required criteria plus at least 50% optional criteria
  • Product meets all required criteria plus at least 75% optional criteria

The complete set of criteria includes 23 required criteria (i.e., all criteria must be met to achieve the baseline "Bronze" EPEAT™ rating) and 28 optional criteria (i.e. producers can pick and choose among these criteria to boost their EPEAT™ baseline "score" and achieve a higher rating.)