Green Computing Jargon Buster

Do acronyms and techie environmental terms have you seeing red while you’re trying to go green? Read on for a breakdown of the most commonly used terminology in green computing.


This U.S. government environmental programme standard focuses on energy consumption and resultant greenhouse gas emissions. The standard ensures efficient power management and use, even during different modes such as standby. Many countries have their own eco-labels.


Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool is another U.S. government environmental programme that provides comprehensive green standards, serving as a useful procurement tool for consumers navigating the world of green computing. EPEAT analyzes products using a wide range of benchmarks, including product longevity, packaging, energy conservation, and end-of-life management. There are 23 required criteria for desktops, laptops, and computer monitors, along with 28 optional criteria. EPEAT is broken down into Bronze, Silver, and Gold ratings. Bronze meets all the required standards, with Silver meeting 50% of the optional criteria, and Gold meeting 75%.


This is a certification standard developed to promote energy efficiency.


Another U.S. government environmental programme, SmartWay aims to reduce emissions caused by product transportation. SmartWay partners ensure that their carriers are fuel-efficient and use optimal technology, equipment, and distribution systems for increasing supply chain sustainability.


Greenhouse gases are gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that produce the greenhouse effect. The emissions cause heat to be trapped in the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. GHG emissions are produced by most aspects of computing from product manufacturing and transportation to data centers to computer use itself.


Product carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the whole lifecycle of a product, from the extraction of raw materials to recycling and disposal. Use tools like HP’s web-based Carbon Footprint Calculator to review the environmental impact of your computers, monitors, and printers and make smart changes to bring your computing systems to maximum energy efficiency.


Brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride are toxic materials often found in electronic equipment. They pose dangers to health and the environment both while in use and upon entering the waste stream as a result of dangerous disposal practices such as burning. BFRs, used to inhibit and slow fires, take extremely long to degrade. PVC is a cheap plastic, manufactured using hazardous raw materials. Some companies, like HP, are phasing out BFR and PVC use, especially in their new products.


Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment is an EU directive that sets targets for the proper collection, treatment and recycling of electronics. Such goods often have to be disposed of more carefully than how you would throw out your regular garbage in the rubbish bin.


e-waste is electronic waste, a term used to describe electronic and electrical equipment that have come to the end of what you consider their usefulness. Most of these products enter the regular waste stream but instead should be managed to foster reuse, refurbishment, and recycling through programs such as HP Planet Partners.

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Matthew Stibbe is writer-in-chief at Articulate Marketing. He is also an avid blogger, closet geek and HP fanatic.