As a member of the Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC), Sandia is committed to purchasing computer systems designed with the environment in mind. "Green" electronics are defined as equipment whose manufacture, operation, and end of life have as little environmental impact as possible.
Electronics stewardship is divided into three phases of product lifecycle. Outlined below are Sandia initiatives to address these phases:
The federal government has identified the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) as a comprehensive means to evaluate many factors that affect the environmental impacts of electronic equipment. A few components of the 51 criteria EPEAT examines include:
- reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials
- material selection
- design for end of life
- product longevity/life-cycle extension
- energy conservation (minimum requirement is Energy Star)
- manufacturer end-of-life management
- manufacturer corporate performance
Since the introduction of EPEAT at Sandia, total site computer equipment purchases have grown to at least 95% EPEAT Silver-level rated. Sandia has incorporated EPEAT registration into its information technology purchasing contracts, bid language, and an internal order web page where users can see EPEAT ratings on various models.
Sandia is working to reduce the impacts of computing equipment during daily operation. This includes institutionalizing duplex printing, reducing printers on site, and ensuring power save activation on computer peripherals. Power used by desktop computers is the largest impact of this phase. In 2010, Sandia began implementing power management software that allows precision control of power management features on all networked computers. Back-end software managers are now able to track power usage Labs-wide, set power-limiting features in all devices that are not required to run constantly, and watch the savings in power, dollars, and carbon emissions add up.
End of Life
When electronics are no longer compatible with Sandia's operating environment, or replacement equipment is purchased, items are made available to other departments at Sandia and to the federal community. If not selected for reuse, computers meeting certain performance criteria can be donated to local schools. Sandia/New Mexico’s 2012 K-12 Computer Donation Event resulted in more than 1,300 donated computers. Other electronics, such as ISDN telephones and printer cartridges, are sent to remanufacturing companies to be refurbished. Remaining equipment, including servers, mobile equipment, and non-functional electronics equipment, are sent to an R2-certified recycling facility where they are safely de-manufactured and parsed out for recycling of their constituent materials.