The Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy

Report and Recommended Plan of Action

Prepared by Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Version 1.0 of 23 September 2008


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This paper has been prepared for the Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

Prepared by Tom Worthington FACS HLM
PO Box 13
Belconnen ACT 2617
Web Address:
ABN: 17 088 714 309

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Michael McCann, of Energy Strategies, for permission to use the format of his report Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning High Efficiency Systems Strategy (HVAC HESS) (October 2007). and many of the words from it.

Australian and international ICT industry members provided input to this report, as did the Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts. However, this is not intended as an accepted industry or government position and the views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of any industry body, company or government agency.

The author has made its best efforts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data used herein. Corrections and amendments would be welcome. The author is a Director of the Australian Computer Society, technical advisor to Computers Off Australia and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University. These are unpaid honorary positions and the author derives no income from these sources.

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this document is to propose a strategy for the Australian ICT industry, in conjunction with government, to improve the energy efficiency of PCs and Monitors in Australia.

This strategy proposes voluntary use of the US EPA Energy Star program by the Australian ICT industry and web based industry and consumer education programs on energy efficiency. It is proposed that Australian federal and state governments encourage this voluntary program by government purchasing Energy Star products and by government using the web based information in product selection. While the program would be voluntary, those companies which did not offer Energy Star rated products and did not provide details of them on the web would be excluded from government tenders.

It is proposed that industry work with government on consumer and professional education on sustainability, using the Internet as a delivery mechanism. International initiatives on ICT energy efficiency should be encouraged in Australia, along with locally developed programs. A government sponsored free e-learning package for universities and professional bodies to train ICT professionals in sustainability is proposed.

It is proposed that Australia set a target of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ICT by 2020. This will contribute a 1% overall reduction in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.


  1. Mandatory Energy Efficiency in Government Procurement: Require Energy Star conformance for federal government procurement and for federally funded programs, such as computers in schools. Use a simplified version of US Government procedures. Require energy efficiency product specifications to be on the web in the standard format.

  2. Develop Sustainable ICT E-learning Modules: Sponsor a free e-learning package for universities and professional bodies to train ICT professionals in sustainability. Focus the content on energy efficiency and draw on case studies of real world energy saving projects.

  3. Audit ICT Energy Use Annually: Demonstrate the efficacy of ICT energy saving by regular audits of ICT energy use. Develop an annual ICT energy audit, based on previous ICT audit and analysis used for greening whitegoods.

  4. Voluntary Energy Star Standard for Industry: Adopt the US Energy Star Program as the basis of a voluntary standard for efficient PCs and monitors.

  5. Standard Web Format for Environmental Product Data: Develop a standard format to display energy efficiency data and other environmental data on the web, suitable for both consumers and corporate users. In Australia. Propose the format as an international standard.

  6. Promotion and Market Information, Finding Shared Incentives: Promote and support energy saving to consumers. Encourage international consortia to expand their programs to Australia. Encourage the ICT industry to support local initiatives.

Next Steps for Industry and Government

  1. Decide which measures to adopt

  2. Cost and schedule the measures


The ICT industry is relatively new, having grown from almost nothing in the early 1960’s to an industry that accounts for 4.6 per cent of Australia’s total GDP1. Despite the scale of the services provided across all sectors of the economy, and the value delivered it is rarely regarded or recognized as an industry in its own right. The lack of recognition of this critical national industry has had implications for training and education planning, certification and career path development, and human resources availability.

The industry’s clients, individuals and organizations, have had little direct financial incentive to demand highly efficient PCs. The ICT section of an organization is responsible for equipment purchase, but the benefits of energy efficiency in reduced energy and air conditioning costs, will normally flow to he facilities management section. Home computer users will be unable to see the savings of a more efficient computer in their quarterly household energy bills.

However, energy use is becoming more visible due to climate change. Incentives for improved energy efficiency are emerging as market demand, and regulatory push, for reporting on various indices of efficiency and sustainability gain traction and recognition. Many individuals and industry participants, acknowledge that there is much that can be done to improve the efficiency of the installed base of PCs and Monitors, and to ensure more efficient systems are designed and built.

Many suggest that not much could be expected to change unless there were additional regulatory requirements underpinning realistic compliance regimes, reporting, inspection and/or standards. Others argue that such regulation could be relatively light handed, but would be very effective where the industry is economically motivated. Given the rate of turnover of PCs and monitors, it is possible that Australia will be able to reduce the relative energy used for PCs and monitors over the coming decade with little effort. However adoption of a strategy should significantly accelerate this and reduce the energy consumed and the emissions produced, per unit of services provided, as well as in absolute terms. PCs and monitors represent low hanging fruit, which provide a relatively quick and easy way to reduce CO2 emissions from ICT and overall nationally and globally.


While there has been discussion over many years about energy efficiency in Personal Computers and monitors in most cases highly energy efficient PCs have not become the accepted norm for personal and organizational users. In recent years other nations have placed emphasis on raising the energy efficiency of components, but systems using these components not increasing in overall efficiency to the same degree. The proposed Australian strategy is to approach the challenge of energy efficiency from a systems perspective. This holistic approach is intended to deliver improved energy efficiency for PCs in Australia and to set the example for a 50% reduction in CO2 from ICT by 2020, thus contributing 1% to the overall national and international reduction in emissions.

The ability of information and communications technology (ICT) to contribute to reductions in climate change emissions is not in question. What is at issue is the economic and other processes which motivate individuals and organizations in the choice of equipment and how the use that equipment. By addressing these issues Australia can play an important role in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

ICT could be regarded as an essential service. The operation of modern society relies on computers and telecommunications for culture, commerce and government. The industry that delivers computers and communications is referred to in this document as the ICT industry. This industry encompasses engineering and design services, hardware, manufacturing and fabrication, construction, installation and commissioning, software and controls design, operation and maintenance. However, this report concentrates on desktop computers, portable notebook (laptop) computers and desktop monitors.

Research conducted by Ethan Group, for the Australian Computer Society (ACS), found2:

  • ICT usage by Australian businesses represents 2.84% of the emissions attributed to the stationary energy component (energy consumed excluding transportation), and 1.52% of the total national emissions, which totalled 522.2 Mt CO2 ...

  • One of the biggest power consumption demands comes from employees’ personal workstation equipment, which is generally in an operational state for 12 hours per day, and in many cases is not switched off.

  • ICT’s carbon emissions are comparable in size to other industries such as civil aviation, which is estimated to generate 0.97% of total carbon emissions and metal production (mostly iron and steel), which accounts for around 2.3% of total carbon emissions and the cement industry at around 1%. ...

The overall efficiency of installed PCs will not increase as fast as for new models, due to the installed base of old equipment. A strategy designed to address the obstacles to energy efficient operation in this class of technology has to deal with a number of obstacles, and take a variety of approaches to deal with an existing base of equipment as well as new devices.

A strategy for ICT needs to take a different approach to that applied in areas such as the Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning High Efficiency Systems Strategy (ICT HESS). ICT is already playing a significant part in the rapid growth of demand for electricity in the CBDs of Australia’s major cities, including increased aid conditioning demand. Capping electricity demand growth from ICT will help to defer the major investments required to upgrade building electrical distribution infrastructure.

In the process of developing this strategy, consultation was undertaken with industry directly and via the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA3) and participation in a forum organized by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) Equipment Energy Efficiency Program 29 July 2008.

Computer companies individually, in various non-profit initiatives and through formal national and international standards bodies have developed a number of initiatives for energy saving and customer awareness. The willing and expert input provided by stakeholders along the global supply chain has been invaluable in the development of this strategy. Not all of the suggestions provided could be directly accommodated in the strategy delivered here, nor is this intended to be a consensus document.

Australia is not alone in its efforts to construct and operate highly energy efficient personal and organizational computer users. Just some of the international activity underway in this area is explored in this report. It is hoped that Australia's actions can provide a pilot program to show other nations how to approach this problem.

Brief Review of the Current Situation

The ICT industry in Australia is one based on local software development using imported hardware. There is little incentive for selection of highly efficient PCs, or scope for bespoke local hardware design or production. PCs are selected based on the lowest capital costs. While there is more scope for energy costs to be included in corporate server systems with more custom design, servers are outside the scope of this report. The rapid turnover in desktop systems (with a life of 2 to five years) allows for relatively rapid changes to be made. However, environmental and energy issues are not included in professional ICT training and development.

Individuals and organizations have little incentive to invest in energy cost savings, nor access to the expertise to make such decisions. Company and government have awarded tenders on the lowest capital cost, and until recently, not specified any energy efficiency requirements. However, three federal government agencies issued requests for tender including energy efficiency requirements in August 2008:

  1. Provision of Desktop, LAN, Helpdesk, and Midrange Services -, RFT 0708-705, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 7 August 2008

  2. Supply and maintenance of IT equipment, ATM ID ebus-desktop-11Aug08, Agency Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, 11-Aug-2008

  3. Request for Tender for IT Hardware, ATM ID ANAOCM2008/1071, Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), 15-Aug-2008

DEWHA's tender was the most detailed, requiring at least a silver rating, on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT™) specifications. The department of innovation and Audit office required energy efficiency to be provided in tender responses, without setting a required level. Consistent and mandatory energy saving specifications in Australian government tenders would assist the Australian ICT industry to invest in energy saving.

The Queensland Government uses the Government Information Technology Contracting Framework (GITC V5) for procurement of computers and services. The GITC, which is generally used by Australian governments, does not have much to say on sustainability or energy efficiency. However, the Queensland State Procurement Policy includes a chapter on Operational Concept – Sustainable procurement. The policy sets out general principles, with no specific targets on energy efficiency. The Standard GITC Clauses– Reference Sheet, includes a requirement for US EPA Energy Star energy efficiency:

5. Clause to be included in invitation document on energy

In keeping with the Queensland government’s commitment to the National Greenhouse Strategy/Government Energy Management Policy, where possible, office equipment supplied under this arrangement or against a Government purchase order must comply with the US EPA Energy Star or power management features and must be supplied in its enabled state where technically feasible. ...

From: Standard GITC Clauses– Reference Sheet, Queensland Government, 12/09/2005

The Queensland approach is consistent with the "Measures to Support Environmentally Friendly ICT" report from AGIMO. Australian Government departments and agencies are already encouraged to purchase office equipment that complies with the US Environment Protection Agency Energy Star standard (subject to it being fit for purpose). This includes ICT products. However, this has not been widely promoted, or monitored.

It is likely that many CIOs in federal and state governments would be unaware of energy efficiency purchasing polices, nor receiving reports on compliance and energy use. Where computer systems are networked, it is possible to monitor such compliance in near real time, via the network, rather than having procurement officers filling in paperwork. The federal and state governments could interrogate their systems to see how much power is being used and what the power saving status of the systems are.

The review of the Australian Government's management of information and communication technology has not yet been released. There is therefore the opportunity to include energy saving criteria for purchasing in any new procedures to be drawn up.

One issue which needs to be addressed in both government procurement policy and education for industry and the community is the Beer Fridge effect. New energy computers will not save any energy if the old inefficient computers are also retained. It is tempting to reuse old computers to save on materials use and save money. But old computers are likely to be energy inefficient and cost more to maintain. Just as it is tempting to use an old fridge in the back room as a beer fridge, it is tempting for organizations and individuals to hold onto old equipment.

The Industry

The ICT industry is relatively new but is now a significant part of the national economy. The ICT industry employs a wide range of specialist skills from business and engineering in fields from the former telecommunications and software industries and now including web development. However, apart from some engineers in the telecommunication industry, ICT professionals in Australia are almost exclusively trained in software and applications, not hardware development. As a result they have little appreciation of the physical requirements of computer systems for electrical power and cooling.

Some professionals work with facilities management, but almost exclusively in the development of large data centers, not desktop computer needs. It is generally assumed by ICT professionals specifying a system that the desktop computers will be installed in a standard office, with no need to consider power or cooling requirements.

The relative youth of the industry, the diverse backgrounds and lack of a local manufacturing base have meant that the industry has not developed its own identity. ICT professionals have tended to be from business (for Information Systems), science and mathematics (for computer scientists) and engineering (software engineers). Bodies including the AIIA and ACS have moved to address these issues.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS), the peak professional body for the IT sector, today announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ACS, the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), to promote an agreed standard of ICT professionalism worldwide.

The MOU complements ACS involvement in an International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) sponsored taskforce aimed at attaining an international accredited IT Professional status. ...

From: ACS, British Computer Society & Canadian Information Processing Society sign MOU on international accreditation for ICT professionals, Media Release, ACS, 22 March 2007

The ACS and AIIA initiated a Green IT Taskforce, in July 2008, which includes in its aims the training and certification of ICT professionals in the use of energy standards for ICT.

The Technology

Despite their mass distribution as consumer products, PCs are complex devices made of hardware and software, designed to global standards. When combined into networks, the complexity of the systems increases. This complexity results in ICT professionals taking a conservative approach to changes which might make systems less reliable. Despite the public perception of rapid advances in IT development, new technologies can take a decade to move from being a research idea to a commonly deployed product. Efficiency of energy use is a relatively new idea for the ICT industry and professionals are rightly wary of implementing it at the cost of overall system reliability

Sustained high efficiency can be achieved through the design and selection of components in systems. However, most short term gains can be achieved through the configuration of systems and changes to user behavior. The most efficient PC will not save energy if the energy saving options have been switched off during installation or maintenance, due to the systems staff perceiving them as reducing the performance or reliability of the system. In contrast an older, less reliable hardware design can have its energy efficiency improved by careful system configuration to lower energy use when not running at full load.

A Social Contract

The ICT industry also has an essential social contract and economic obligation to deliver safe, effective and reliable PCs across Australia’s diverse requirement. At present this social contract is manifestly fulfilled by the self evident success of the industry in maintaining reliable ICT operation across the country. While not usually apparent to the clients, the ICT profession in Australia has been at the forefront of considerations of the ethics of the profession.

In 2005 the ICT profession partnered with the Australian Government and a consortium universities to fund a $900k research program into ethics and regulation in the ICT industry4. A series of articles for practitioners has been produced, in addition to formal research papers. These materials are now used in teaching ICT ethics at university5. The role of environmental impacts of ICT as an ethical issue was only briefly considered in this work. However, this could be included in the impacts.

The Challenge

The challenge is to continue to deliver the PCs and Monitors required while using less energy. The ICT industry appears ready to accept the challenge of reducing energy consumed per unit of delivered services and greenhouse emissions from the use of PCs. A number of significant initiatives are already under way by industry bodies, professional associations and consortia of stakeholders to improve aspects of the industry’s capability and develop and demonstrate high efficiency systems.

The Australian ICT Industry View

In March 2008 the Australian Information Industry Association’s (AIIA) Environmental Special Interest Group (E-SIG) prepared a position paper on the mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards for computers and monitors6. With around 500 member companies from the ICT industry the AIIA provides the largest single voice of the ICT industry in Australia. The AIIA advocated Australian regulations and standards should be consistent with international work on energy efficiency to minimize costs to industry and consumers. The AIIA pointed out that it and its members already participate in programs such as US EPA's Energy Star.

The AIIA do not support mandatory MEPS labeling for computers and monitors. AIIA recommended the Australian Government implement procurement incentives.

The Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy Overview

The purpose of the PCMS is to provide an overall framework for action addressing the obstacles to highly efficient PCs. The primary objective of the PCMS is to reduce energy used in

PCs in Australia to 2020 by 50%:

  • Improving the awareness, technical and management skills of people involved throughout the industry, from selection to operation;

  • Improving individual and corp[orate customer awareness of the need for and benefits of energy saving;

  • Setting an energy efficiency standard for PCs and Monitors;

  • Providing information on energy saving of PCs and Monitors offered for sale in Australia;

  • Using government procurement policy to encourage complain products and information.

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative7, was started by Google and Intel in 2007, and now includes many major ICT manufacturing companies. The Initiative aims to achieve a 50% reduction in power consumption by computers by 2010 and a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of PCs and Monitors delivered over the next decade.

The Climate Savers 50% target by 2010 appears overly ambitious, but a target for a later date would seem reasonable. A US EPA funded study of energy saving measures for the US state of Virginia8 has proposed a 49% cut in energy use by office equipment, including computers, by 2015. Therefore setting a target of 2020 for Australia appears achievable.

People, Practices and Systems

The major impediment to achieving energy savings with ICT is not the technology, but the behavior of the people working in the ICT industry, selecting and operating the computer equipment. Measures to address this can include:

  • Plugging Skills gaps and inadequate skill levels and delivering training materials, training courses, systems of accreditation and improve skill levels across the industry, raising the profile of and value attributed to, highly skilled industry participants;

  • Identifying market failures in terms of both energy and economic efficiency and support the creation of policies, programs, and incentives that work to counter market failures;

  • Performance indicators for the industry on energy consumption of PCs; and

  • Case studies and industry briefings via existing industry and professional associations.

  • Education programs for consumers and industry customers.

  • International involvement in energy saving initiatives by government and industry.

Strategy Structure

The strategy needs to align with relevant practices in the ICT industry. Government can support the implementation of the strategy by employing the standards and practices proposed by the industry in their own procurement and use of ICT.

The areas for actions identified here will need to be cost justified, developed and tested consultation process with stakeholders along the ICT supply chain. An industry steering group will be needed with working parties, each with briefs to research and develop proposals for across areas including:

  1. Documentation, commissioning and maintenance e processes

  2. Education and training

  3. ICT performance measures and ratings

  4. Industry statistics.

All Australian Governments are committed to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are few statistics available as to the emission from ICT. In 2007 the ACS released results of a carbon audit showing ICT generated 1.52% of national emissions. This was the first of its kind in the world, and the results broadly agree with later report. However, the study had to exclude emissions from government use of ICT as no reliable statistics were available for this sector. It is likely that the real figure for Australian ICT is higher, at around 2% of national emissions. New regular, more detailed studies will need to be undertaken.

Addressing personnel and skills shortages

  1. Providing new skill sets to existing ICT professionals

  2. Creating new training opportunities for new entrants

  3. Creating new transferable, nationally standard, market recognised qualifications and competencies

Priority 1 – Training Practitioners


Improve the expertise of ICT professionals.


In many instances, practitioners in the ICT industry would benefit from possessing a wider range of systems analysis skills, and a deeper understanding of issues and skills closely related to their areas of specialization.


Sustainable ICT E-learning Modules

Expand the Sustainable IT Lecture Series9 into a free e-learning package available to universities and professional bodies for training ICT professionals in sustainability. Focus the content on energy efficiency and draw on case studies of real world energy saving projects. Incorporate the program in professional programs, such as the Computer Professional Education Program.

Initiative 2 – Standards

Energy Efficiency Standards

Adopt the US EPA Energy Star energy efficiency program

Priority 1 – Standards for Energy Efficiency

Comprehensive standards for energy efficiency of products. Individual, corporate and government buyers will be able to use the same standard to identify energy efficient products.


No Australian standard exists for ICT energy efficiency. The Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (E3) runs the Minimum Performance Energy Standards (MEPS) project, works with industry to increase energy efficiency and consumer awareness, through initiatives such as Energy Rating labels applied to appliances. However, such a mandatory labeling scheme is not suitable for computers. In addition Energy Star may need some adaption for Australia, with products in Australia having a different life cycle to those in the USA.

Response 1:

Adopt Energy Star Program

The Energy Star Program from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy is designed to encourage energy efficient products and practices. The scheme provides an alternative energy rating system for computers and monitors.


Australian ICT products may have slightly different product codes to the versions tested in the USA under the Energy Star system. It can therefore be difficult for consumers and corporate buyers to check energy star conformance claims.


Develop a web based standard format for environmental product data, suitable for use in Australia and as an international standard. The e-Product standard could use Microformats10, to include machine readable product data in the same web pages which have easy to read summary data for consumers. Corporate and government systems would automatically harvest this data for use ion large scale procurements, while consumers read the summary information from individual web pages.

Energy Efficiency in Government Procurement

Adopt the US EPA Energy Star energy efficiency standards for government procurement

Priority 1 – Standards for Energy Efficiency in Government Procurement


Promote energy efficiency in government procurement.


Complexity of government procurement practices for government staff and tendering companies.


Adopt Energy Star and simplified version of US Government procedures. Instead of asking companies to supply detailed energy performance specifications, request just the web address of where the details are publicly available on the web in a standard format.

Energy Star standards are voluntary, but have been made mandatory for some US Government purchasing:

In addition to direct government purchasing for use by the Australian Public Service, the policy could be applied to federally funded programs which involve significant purchase of ICT equipment . A primary example of this is the Australian Government's $1.2 billion Digital Education Revolution with funding for computers in schools. Including a requirement for energy efficiency for computers purchased under the scheme would require minor changes and may result in a lowering of the cost of the program. A requirement to consider energy efficiency would encourage schools and education authorities to consider how to provide the optimal mix of computer faciitiles for learning, rather than trying to buy the most equipment for every student.

Priority 3 – Promotion and Market Information, Finding Shared Incentives


Identify and promote the benefits to consumers and organizations of the benefits of energy saving with ICT.


Companies will tend to wish to promote their own products, rather than take an industry view of consumer awareness. Programs developed for North America or Europe may not translate to Australian Conditions.


E-use Program

Promote and support professionals and businesses who promote energy saving to consumers. Invite international consortia to expand their programs to Australia. Provide resources for local branches of consortia to adapt their programs to Australian conditions. Encourage the ICT industry to support local initiatives, such as Computers Off Australia.

Initiative 3 - Systems

Technology and Innovation

Making innovation accessible, acceptable and effective.

Priority 1 - Monitoring Energy Use


Demonstrate the efficacy of ICT energy saving by regular audits of ICT energy use.


Meaningful comparative information about the performance of PCs in use is not readily available.


ICT Climate Audit:

Develop an annual ICT energy audit. This could be broadly based on the ACS/Ethan Group 2007 report methodology and the Greening Whitegoods analysis. These two reports used different methodologies to estimate the energy use of products. The ACS ICT study was based on an estimate of products in use. Greening Whitegoods looked at the efficiency of new products purchased. A combination of these two approaches could be used.

Appendix: Terms of Reference

Improving the energy efficiency of PCs and monitors in Australia

The Australian Government's Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) has asked me to help with a project to increase the energy efficiency of personal computers and monitors in Australia. This is for the Equipment Energy Efficiency Program (E3). Input from the ICT industry and other interested parties are welcome.

E3 run the Minimum Performance Energy Standards (MEPS) project, which is supported by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. MEPS works with industry to increase energy efficiency and consumer awareness, through initiatives such as Energy Rating labels applied to appliances. During 2007/2008 E3 has held a number of meetings with the ICT industry and consumer representatives to discuss energy saving initiatives for computers, similar to those for appliances.

More recently the meetings have concentrated on consultation with the industry and encouraging them to prepare submissions on MEPS or alternatives to be considered by DEWHA before being presented at the next meeting in September.]

The Proposal

Green ICT for the Australian Computer Society, and at the Australian National University, I was asked to speak at the 8 February 2008 Labelling Workshop on Computers and Monitors. The proposal under consideration was to make the US Energy Star Standard V4.0/V4.1 mandatory for computer and monitors sold from October 2009. There is a Fact Sheet and Technical Report available on the proposal.

The new Minimum Energy Performance Standard would have applied to corporate, private and government computer purchases, with non-complying products being prohibited. Energy rating labels similar to those on consumer appliances would be attached to computers. Australian federal government agencies were already encouraged to purchase “Energy Star” standard computers (mandatory for US Government Agencies) under a 1997 policy on Measures for Improving Energy Efficiency in Commonwealth Operations.

The workshop covered the reasons for energy efficiency standards and labelling, why this should apply to ICT equipment, if the scheme should be voluntary or compulsory, how it could be implemented. A similar workshop had been held in 20 December 2007 on energy labelling for televisions.

At the computer meeting the consumer groups spoke generally in favour of the proposals, while the computer manufacturers had some concerns that a scheme designed for appliances would not be directly transferable to ICT equipment. Following the February 2008 meeting, I was asked by DEWHA to act as an independent consultant, collecting input from companies and propose an energy saving scheme in line with their views which would meet the government's objectives.

A further meeting was held with industry 29 July 2008 to discuss the issues of ICT energy efficiency. The general view of the meeting was that ICT products are internationally standardised and to introduce unique requirements for Australia would increase the cost to consumers and cause confusion. Australia should therefore not create its own unique energy labelling scheme for computer products. The emphasis should be on harmonised international standards and an introduction date of not earlier than April 2010.

Computer companies individually, in various non-profit initiatives and through formal national and international standards bodies have developed a number of initiatives for energy saving and customer awareness. My view is that it should be possible to build on these to provide a program of energy efficiency and consumer awareness for PCs.

Think Tank Report

The original concept was that I would prepare a report in conjunction with industry which would then be submitted to DEWHA. However, I have proposed to DEWHA, and they have accepted, that this be changed to an independent "think tank" style report. This will canvass input more widely and propose the possibility of an industry best practice or voluntary strategy, based on company, industry, national and international projects as models for possible wider industry engagement. It will draw on public source material about what the companies are doing, both domestically and internationally and propose to widen the operation of those successful company "pilot" projects as the basis for a complementary industry strategy.

This work is being funded by DEWHA, but will not necessarily represent DEWHA's views, nor that of any company or industry body. The report will inform the work of DEWHA will try to make some economy wide projections as to its greenhouse value of a voluntary programs as a basis for an Australian standard.

Other Areas to Be Investigated

Apart from areas relating to energy efficiency labelling and testing, other ways to encourage energy efficiency which might be fruitful to explore are:

  • Standardised Energy requirements for government tenders, such as in the DEWHA Request for Tender for Provision of Desktop, LAN, Helpdesk and Midrange Services (RFT 0708-705 7 August 2008), with detailed environmental requirements.

  • Energy Training for ICT Industry Staff: Such as the The Natural Edge Project's : Sustainable IT Lecture Series.

  • Information for consumers and small business: on the benefits
    of purchasing efficient computers. As these are computer based products, the web can be used as an information medium, in place of physical sticker on equipment and brochures. Companies currently provide information on their product offerings, but these can be difficult to interpret and compare. Industry and government can work to make the energy efficiency and other environmental information about products available in an easily interpreted format.

Invitation to Provide Input

The ICT industry, researchers and others, are invited to provide input on how a voluntary scheme might work. Please note that his is a "desk exercise", involving a few days work, to produce a report of a few pages. It is not something on the scale of the Garnaut Climate Change Review or the Gershon Review of Government ICT.

The preferred method for input is by electronic mail to the address: pcmeps2(a)>. Brief messages, with no attachments, citing publicly available web based sources are preferred: "Our company provides details of the energy rating of PCs sold at http://www ..." or "We have an energy saving scheme in Europe which could be introduced to Australia. See: http:/www...".

All input must be of a publicly usable nature. "Commercial in confidence" material cannot be used, as the final report is to be made public. I plan to have a draft report for DEWHA by 11 September 2008, so early input would be appreciated.

Labels: Green IT, Minimum Energy Performance Standards

posted by Tom Worthington at 5:06 PM Monday, September 01, 2008

Appendix: Apple Pty Limited (Australia) environmental information on the web

  1. Apple and the Environment: A general introduction to Apple's response to environmental issues,

  2. Apple Energy Efficiency: Apple's approach to energy efficiency for computers,

  3. Apple Product Environmental Specifications: Details of what environmental standards each Apple product meets.

As an example, Apple's Mac mini Desktop, Technical Specifications indicate that it meets Meets ENERGY STAR requirements.

The Environmental attributes listing has six pages of tables indicating compliance with environmental programs from: ECMA, IT ECO, Blue Angel, ENERGY STAR®, and TCO. This includes a page of energy consumption data.

Details are provided of: Power supply maximum continuous power rating, External power supply (AC adaptor) no-load power consumption, Average Efficiency, Product meets ENERGY STAR® v4.0 criteria, External power supply (AC adapter) meets ENERGY STAR® criteria, External power supply (AC adapter) meets European Code of Conduct (2003) criteria, Product meets US FEMP (Federal Energy Management Program) criteria.

There is information as to if information about the energy save function is given in the user manual, id sleep mode is activated automatically, and that the product will not be damaged if separated from power source for at least 4 weeks and the.

Also included are definitions of energy consumption modes from Energy Star Program Requirements for Computers Version 4.0 specification:

  1. Idle: State in which the system has completed loading Mac OS X.

  2. Sleep - WOL on: Low power state that is entered automatically after a period of inactivity or by selecting sleep from the Apple menu. Wake-on-LAN, a Mac OS X default feature that allows the system to wake from sleep when directed by a network request, is enabled for this test.

  3. Sleep - WOL off: Low power state that is entered automatically after a period of inactivity or by selecting sleep from the Apple menu. Wake-on-LAN functionality, which allows the system to wake from sleep when directed by a network request, is disabled through the Energy Saver System Preference panel.

  4. Off: Lowest power mode of the system, also referred to as standby-mode or shutdown.

Definitions of energy consumption modes from section 5.2 of the Energy Star Program Requirements for Single Voltage External AC-DC and AC-AC Power Supplies:

  1. No-Load: Condition in which the power adapter is connected to AC power, but not connected to the system.

  2. Average Efficiency: Average of the power adapter’s measured efficiency when tested at 100%, 75%, 50%, and 25% of the power adapter’s rated power output.

Appendix: Climate Savers Computing

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative. has major ICT companies as members. They aim to reduce computer power 50% by 2010 and have a catalogue of energy saving ICT products. They provide a three step energy saving process:

  1. Turn on Power Management,

  2. Buy Energy-Efficient Computers (Energy Star Complaint)

  3. Unplug from Phantom Power (disconnecting equipment which draws standby power when supposedly "off").

Appendix: Computers Off Australia

Computers Off Australia (COA) has similar aims to the USA based Climate Savers Computing Initiative but is more recent and locally based:

Our Focus

To educate and engage with individuals and corporations to step up and take responsibility to minimise their Carbon Footprint and assist in reducing the amount of CO2 emissions produced by home PC's or NON mission critical PCs left on within organisations' networks.

To change the way we use our home and work computers and to encourage users to make a cultural change that will improve the lives of our children, our grandchildren an many generations to come. ...

Best Practices

Reduce the amount of CO2 Emissions produced by Desktop and Laptop computers by 500,000 tons and save Australian individuals and companies collectively more than $80 million in electricity costs over the coming 12 months. We have outlined some best practices when it comes to enabling Power Management technology that already exists in your PC operating system (OS). In most case this is a 3-5 step process, will only take around 5 mins to implement.

Appendix: HP "Energy engagement" information

HP is one of the board of directors of Climate Savers Computing Initiative

HP is following and participating the Energy Star program and standards development. Energy Star qualified products can be found from Computers, Monitors. EU Energy Star regulation, article 6 - Member States in their call for public tenders must ask for products that meet latest ENERGY STAR specifications. 2007 specifications for desktop PCs, monitors and Imaging Equipment are being revised with more stringent requirements, other product categories will be added like Thin Clients and servers. On the US EPA Energy Star website there are product lists (excel spread sheets) that include information on products shipped to Australia and New Zealand also..

New Zealand Government has adopted the Energy Star program ( and HP is Energy Star NZ partner and we are providing New Zealand specific product information to this local NZ database. This information is applicable to Australia also.

HP certifies products under several eco-labels outside of Energy Star, including China Energy Conservation Program (CECP), German Blue Angel, Japan PC Green Label , Korea KOECO, Taiwan Green Mark etc. Majority of the eco-labels include energy criteria. Information on products certified under these eco-labels can be found from The products listed on the environmental information page are sold world-wide, including Australia.

HP publishes product profiles for new products based on ECMA-370 standard (formerly IT Eco-Declaration) Current forms include energy information and are being updated to better reflect product energy consumption according to latest product standard protocols (to be completed by December 2008).

HP follows the EU and other government green purchasing criteria and tools development. HP is a member of EPEAT board of advisors ( We have a number of products included in the EPEAT system.

HP websites provide user education:

IBM on Energy Efficiency

IBM participated in the development of and prescribes to the use of the international standard for declaration of environmental attributed of IT equipment, Standard ECMA-370: The Eco Declaration - TED (2nd ed / December 2006). This standard meets the basic principles of ISO 14021 and eco design standards such as ECMA-341.

IBM is a charter member of the US EPA's ENERGY STAR computers program since 1992.  IBM is currently working with the US EPA to develop energy efficiency specifications for servers. IBM is a member of the World Wildlife Fund's "Climate Savers" program and the The Green Grid. The Green Grid is a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centres and business computing systems.

Intel on Energy Efficiency

Intel's range of Atom processors are now being used in desktop and notebook computers, as well as handheld devices. Intel is a member of the Climate Savers Computing and has produced case studies to show energy efficiency through power management11

In 2007, Intel joined the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), greenhouse gas emissions reduction, registry, and trading program. Intel aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 6 percent by 2010 and energy consumption by an average of 4 percent per production unit per year from 2002 through 2010.

Appendix: AIIA on Energy Efficiency

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has an Environment Special Interest Group (E-SIG) working on environmental issues including the Byteback recycling scheme.

AIIA have also produced a directory of member sustainability projects from:

  1. Apple

  2. Canon

  3. Dell

  4. Epson

  5. Fujitsu

  6. Fuji Xerox

  7. Hewlett-Packard

  8. IBM

  9. Lenovo

  10. Lexmark

  11. Microsoft

Appendix: Environmental Standards and Requirements from Recent Government Requests for Tender

6 Environmental Standards and Requirements

6.1 Because of its policy responsibilities, the Agency aims to take a leading role in implementing environmental policy in its business activities. This is therefore reflected in the requirements for this RFT.

6.2 In addition to expecting a high level of environmental performance in respect of hardware, the Agency also expects that its service providers will be able to demonstrate similar levels of performance against the corporate environmental responsibility issues identified in this RFT.

6.3 Product Environmental Specifications

6.3.1 The primary environmental specifications for all hardware to be proposed in Tenders are described in the following section, with an outline of the information that will need to be provided in all Tenders (Clause 16 of Section E – Tender Response).
6.3.2 To facilitate the Environmental evaluation of solutions proposed, all Tenderers are to submit (at a minimum) the data set out in the specification tables (1, 2, A and B) found at Clause 16 of Section E (Tender Response), for each model of computer (including mobile solutions such as notebooks), monitor, printer and Multifunction device (MFD) proposed to be supplied under the contract.

6.3.3 Information requested is based upon the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT™) criteria, which evaluate electronic products in relation to criteria contained in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1680 and ENERGY STAR® Standards.

6.3.4 The IEEE 1680 Standard contains the full text of each criterion, what information must be provided to demonstrate conformance with the criterion, and additional references and details.

6.3.5 Further information on EPEAT™ can be found at:

6.3.6 Further Information on ENERGY STAR® can be found at:

6.3.7 Tenderers should demonstrate: That MFDs and printers can use 100% recycled content paper; The ability to meet current energy targets as set out in the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Policy (; Their capability for recycling of equipment at the end of its useful life; The arrangements in place for recycling of the packaging for new equipment; and Power management capabilities of new equipment.

6.3.8 All products supplied under the Request for Tender process and resulting contract may be submitted for independent testing and assessment for compliance against the claimed performance (by an Agency nominated National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) Accredited Laboratory).

6.3.9 During the RFT process the Agency may require the claims for any item of equipment nominated in a Tender to be substantiated by the Tenderer by production of appropriate test data. Products that do not meet the stated specifications will be rated accordingly.

6.3.10 In the event of non-compliance of equipment supplied by the selected supplier during the course of the contract, the Agency may require the selected supplier to upgrade or replace all sub-standard equipment at its own cost.

6.3.11 At a minimum, all products nominated by Tenderers must meet the following requirements: Computers (and Notebooks) must comply with the requirements of the US ENERGY STAR® Program Requirements for Computers Version 4.0 test and performance specification; CRT and LCD (Display) Monitors must comply with Tier 1 and Tier 2 respectively of the US ENERGY STAR® Program Requirements for Computer Monitors Version 4.1 test and performance specification; Printer and MFD (Imaging) Equipment must comply with the requirements of the US ENERGY STAR® Program Requirements for Imaging Equipment Version 1.0 test and performance specification (Tier 1); and All products are to be supplied with power management features enabled.

6.3.12 All tests and compliance data is required to be at 230V a.c. Only.

6.3.13 Although the current requirement is for products to meet a nominated version of Energy Star (above), it is expected that if/as new versions or requirements become available over the period of the contract that the selected supplier will ensure that all new products provided will meet the new version within 12 months of publication.

6.4 Corporate Environmental Specifications

6.4.1 In addition to evaluating the environmental qualities of products proposed by the supplier, Tenderers should submit (at a minimum) the data set out in specification table found at Clause 16.6 of Section E (Tender Response), detailing the environmental qualities of the Tendering organisation including end of life management and corporate performance proposed under the contract. ...

From: Request for Tender for Provision of Desktop, LAN, Helpdesk and Midrange Services, RFT 0708-705, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage, 7 August 2008

Evaluation Criteria ...

3. Environmental Standards – including the devices' energy saving options; heat management features; level of compliance with relevant environmental legislation, Energy Star standard and Australian Standard AS/NZS 3760:2003. ...


3.1 The Australian Government is concerned about the environment and is committed to increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and reducing the impact packaging materials have on the environment. ...

4. Environmental Standards

4.1 Tenderers are to specify the extent to which their products comply with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and other associated environmental legislation in the manufacture, distribution and disposal of their products. Information can be found at

4.2 Tenderers are to specify the extent to which their products comply with the Australian Environmental Labelling Association, Australian Voluntary Environmental Labelling Standard AELA 24-2005. Information can be found at

4.3 Tenderers are to specify the extent to which their products comply with the Energy Star standard where available and fit for purpose. This is part of the National Greenhouse strategy. Information can be found at:

4.4 Tenderers are to detail the heat output and power consumption for the desktop PCs and Laptop configurations. Please provide information on how these claims are independently verified.

4.5 All equipment supplied must be tested and tagged to comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 3760:2003. Please acknowledge your compliance.

4.6 Please outline any other environmental features of your product. ...

From: Supply and maintenance of IT Equipment (Desktop PCs and Laptops) 2008 – 2009, Request for Tender, Release version 1.0, DIITSR, August 2008

Category 43210000 - Computer Equipment and Accessories...


The Department is seeking to purchase approximately 2400 desktops PCs and 400 laptops to replace its current fleet within 6 months after signing of the contract.

The new equipment must be sufficiently reliable, secure and cost-effective to meet current demands and provide a platform for future growth. In particular, the equipment should meet requirements for: reliability and performance; compatibility with Vista Business operating system; and system security.

Maintenance services should ensure that: Desktop PCs and laptops are repaired promptly; and equipment failures are recorded.

Tenders may be submitted for Desktop PCs only, Laptops only, or both Desktop PCs and laptops.

The Department currently provides support for the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism (DRET). The DRET requirements are included in the scope of this approach to market. ...

From: Supply and maintenance of IT equipment, ATM ID ebus-desktop-11Aug08, Agency Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, 11-Aug-2008

Appendix: Web Based Labels for Environment Claims

The use of a web page labeling technique called “Microformats” has been proposed to apply environmental labels “Ecolabels”, including Energy Star ratings, to web pages about products. The proposal is for a simple hypertext link from the product page to the relevant Ecolabel web page, to indicate conformance. However, the scheme could be expanded to include the details of the product rating, such as the Energy Star measured energy consumption: is the global, independent database of ecolabels (wait, what’s an ecolabel?).

We started this site because the sheer number of labels can be enough to make your shopping trolley spin. Marine Stewardship Council certified fish. ENERGY STAR electronics. LEED certified buildings. Standards. Criteria. Verification. Assurance.

We found ourselves asking who’s deciding what’s green, and what do these labels actually mean? has 3 goals:

1. Useful

We’ve designed this site for people who want fast, accurate, relevant information on ecolabels.

This is a work in progress. We’ll continue to add fields and metrics over time, as we collect more data. ...

2. Neutral & Inclusive

There are no judgment calls in this database about what is — or is not — an ecolabelling scheme. We aim to include every single ecolabel out there, in any language.

So far we have over 200, but it seems that the more we look, the more we find! This database will grow — hopefully with your help. So, if we’ve missed your favourite ecolabel, let us know.

3. Open

Dig in. We’re open to collaborating and sharing our data in any way we can. Let’s work together to make even more useful than it is. ...

From: About, Big Room Inc, 2008

1  Overview of the Australian ICT industry, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, November 2006

2ACS reveals ICT's Carbon Footprint, Media Release , the Australian Computer Society, 16 August 2007

3AIIA's commitment to the environment and sustainability, Australian Information Industry Association, 2008

4 The ACS & ACS Foundation announces globally ground-breaking research into ICT ethics, Media Release, Australian Computer Society, 17 February 2005

5Ethics for ICT Professionals, Tom Worthington, For ANU Perspectives on Computing (COMP1200), 2008

6AIIA Position Paper on Minimum Energy Performance Standards for Computers and Monitors, Prepared by AIIA E-SIG March 2008

8Section 31. Office Equipment, Energizing Virginia: Efficiency First, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Summit Blue Consulting, ICF International, Synapse Energy Economics, September 19, 2008

11 ROI Analysis: Reducing 856,000 Pounds of CO2 Emissions through Remote Services and Off-Hours Power Management, Government Case Study:  Power Management and CO2 Reduction, Intel, 2008

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Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy by Tom Worthington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

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