The Greening of Tech

From "Robert Kemp" <>
Date Sun, 19 Sep 1999 18:39:41 EDT

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Wired News Sep. 18, 1999

The Greening of Tech
Environment News Service

3:00 a.m. 17.Sep.99.PDT
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Procurement officers in companies and public agencies 
should consider switching to "open-source" software for their computers to 
reduce the environmental burden of information technologies, a conference in 
Brussels heard yesterday.

Professor Roberto di Cosmo of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris claimed 
that the unwillingness of software manufactures to allow users of programs 
to see the basic code on which they run is increasing the material intensity 
of information technology equipment by reducing the useful life of hardware 
to as little as two years.

"Computer lifetimes are ever shrinking because of badly managed software 
evolution," he told the meeting, which was organized by European Partners 
for the Environment (EPE).

The conference was organized as part of an initiative which will culminate 
in a set of green purchasing guidelines produced by the European Green 
Purchasing Network, established two years ago by EPE and the International 
Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

The Purchasing Network guidelines will be published in March next year, 
shortly after the European Commission is due to publish an "interpretative 
document" appraising the possibility of using existing laws on public 
procurement to achieve environmental aims.

The document is now being prepared by the Commission's internal market 
directorate. It is expected to determine whether public tenders can 
stipulate that products should carry ecolabels certifying that they meet 
certain environmental standards.

European ecolabel standards have been developed for PCs and are expected 
imminently for laptops.

Once the interpretative document is completed, more detailed green 
purchasing guidelines for individual sectors, including information 
technologies, will follow. Although currently intended as a nonbinding 
communication, an official from the Commission's environment directorate 
said today that it would be pushing for the advice to be included as an 
amendment to the existing directives on public procurement.

Although it welcomes the concept of green purchasing, the European 
information technologies industry is known to be hostile to ecolabels.

Wednesday the industry presented its preferred alternative -- a standardized 
product declaration sheet including all environmental "aspects" of a product 
to allow comparison by procurement officers.

Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for 
environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to those
who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type
of information for non-profit research and educational
purposes only.


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