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Green Tools, Organizations, and Standards: CompTIA’s Strata Green IT Certification

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Emmett Dulaney breaks down the objectives of CompTIA’s Strata Green IT certification exam (number FC0-GR1) with a focus on what you need to know in order to be successful on this exam and earn the certification. The focus of this article is Section 2.2: Identify Green IT framework assessment tools, organizations, and standards.
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In earlier articles, we looked at the Strata program from CompTIA and introduced the Green IT certification. We started breaking down the objectives of CompTIA’s Strata Green IT certification exam (number FC0-GR1) with an eye toward what you need to know in order to be successful on this exam and earn the certification. The focus of this article is Section 2.2: Identify Green IT framework assessment tools, organizations, and standards.

The easiest way to think of this section is to think of a glossary—an inventory of items (mostly organizations and standards) you need to memorize. To help with that task, the following discussion lists those items in alphabetic order:

Agenda 21

First adopted by 178 countries at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, Agenda 21 outlines an action plan for responsible care of the environment internationally, national, and locally. The document is still a prominent guide for sustainable development and progress, despite now being nearly 20 years old.

Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI)

Google and Intel established the CSCI to rally consumers, businesses, and electronics manufacturers to support energy-saving, environmentally-sustainable tech products. Affiliate-level membership to the CSCI is available at no cost to businesses that pledge to purchase only IT equipment that meet or exceed Energy Star standards. Attaining membership is an easy way to bolster a green IT strategy and verify your company’s commitment to sustainability.

Energy Star

We’ve mentioned the EPA’s Energy Star program in a few articles earlier in this series, so you have hopefully done research into their programs already. The Energy Star seal is a familiar indicator of energy efficiency and sustainable design for home appliances and household products. For businesses, Energy Star encourages a strategic approach to energy management and boasts that a well-executed strategy can lead to twice the savings of project-by-project initiatives.

As an IT professional in the early stages of crafting a green strategy, Energy Star’s “Guidelines for Energy Management Overview” is an excellent place to start the daunting process of producing a full-fledged environmental strategy for your department. Their website also provides resources to help calculate the financial benefits of energy management strategies, one of the most challenging but important tasks for gaining organizational support.

Green Computing Impact Organization (GCIO)

Membership to the GCIO is free for qualifying businesses, and the organization provides a support net of resources and contacts to IT vendors and buyers looking to have a more positive impact on the environment. One of the most attractive aspects of membership is the ability to register for a GCIO environmental audit. For more information on membership or to apply, visit the GCIO website.

Green Electronics Council

The Green Electronics Council oversees and manages the EPEAT green electronics certification. The requirements for EPEAT certification are outlined in public standard IEEE 1860, which includes environmental practices for product design and creation, from material selection to packaging. The GEC evaluates products on EPEAT’s 51 criteria (23 required, 28 optional) and awards bronze, silver, or gold certification, based on the number of criteria met.

Green Grid

We’ve listed a number of organizations that your company can join to accelerate your green IT efforts, but the Green Grid may be the most useful and valuable of bunch. The consortium of professionals from all areas of IT boasts an expansive and ever-growing library of reports and tools relating to data center and IT efficiency. The Green Grid is also active with forums, webinars, and live events around the globe to connect its members and expand their knowledge of the latest standards and practices for efficient data centers. Additional membership benefits include early access to industry reports and invitation to meetings to contribute to the direction and projects of the organization.

International Federation of Consulting Engineers Project Sustainability Management (FIDIC’s PSM)

The FIDIC established their Project Sustainability Management system on the principle “sustainability will be achieved one project at a time”. The primary goal of the project is to convert the broad, overarching goals of global initiatives such as Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals into tangible, project-based goals with meaningful benchmarks to measure progress. In the areas of architecture and engineering, the work of PSM lets businesses record and monitor concrete progress toward sustainability and encourages continual improvement toward greener practices.

International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3)

IP3 is the final organization listed in this section of objectives for the Green IT exam. This organization does not focus specifically on green issues, but instead focuses on promoting professionalism throughout the IT industry. The desired goal of IP3 is “a more mature IT profession that is demonstrating leadership in advancing and improving the quality of IT delivered products and services through the responsible and progressive application of IT standards in the global context.”

Joining IP3 and receiving its accreditations is an excellent way to develop your IT proficiencies from a number of angles. The continual improvement and professionalism that is encouraged by the organization will no doubt have an influence on developing a more comprehensive, effective green IT strategy.

IPD Environmental Code

IPD’s Environmental Code establishes a global framework for rating and reporting the environmental performance of commercial real estate, from offices and laboratories to hotels and hospitals. Using the code to closely compare buildings around the world, business leaders set more meaningful goals for their green initiatives and can use the framework as a way to report environmental success and promote corporate reputation.

In 2010, IPD updated the code to more accurately reflect the rapidly-evolving field of corporate environmentalism and also allow for their standards to be more easily integrated with green accreditations such as LEED and Greenstar.

ISO 21931

Standard 21931 of the International Organization for Standardization provides its own framework for assessing and comparing green building construction. The report outlines considerations for construction and building managers during the full lifecycle of the space—extending from design and construction to refurbishment and deconstruction. It’s a must read for those with any input in process of building with the environment in mind and is available for purchase.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)

The European Union adopted RoHS in 2003 and the regulation took effect in all member countries in 2006. Most known for prohibiting the sale of electronic devices containing lead, the directive bans six substances in total, including mercury and cadmium. Product categories under the regulation include household appliances, IT equipment, lighting equipment, electronic tools, and semiconductor devices. Regulation of batteries is not included in the directive, but is covered by other ordinances in the EU.

Currently, RoHS applies only to the European Union and its member countries. The state of California’s Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 adopted many of the regulations of RoHS, but applied the ban to a smaller array of product categories. RoHS may serve as a guide for similar regulations across the US in the near future. At the moment, working to outfit your IT department with RoHS-compliant equipment is not only a smart environmental strategy, but will also reduce time and money spent complying with regulations implemented by the US in the future.

TCO Certification

You may not be familiar with the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees’ TCO certification program, but you have probably seen their seal on the equipment around your IT department. Each certification is named after the year it originated: the first, TCO’92, set forth some of the industry’s first standards for emissions and power management features of computer monitors. Since the first certification, the focus of TCO has extended beyond just computer monitors into keyboards, notebook computers, mobile phones and even office furniture. The breadth of requirements to achieve TCO certification is extensive, with regulations covering chemical content, radiation emission, sound emission, ergonomics, and more.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

The initiative responsible for creating the IPCC, the United Nations Environment Program, provides leadership that works with governmental and scientific organizations, as well as the private sector, to promote environmentally-sustainable use of natural resources. UNEP places special focus on working with business and technology leaders to form global partnerships that promote green business and make clear not only the environmental, but also the financial, benefits of adopting sustainable behavior.

IT professionals should take interest in UNEP’s Global e-Sustainability Initiative. Check out the initiative’s website to find a growing body of reports and best practices in the area of green IT.

United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Made up of scientists from 194 countries around the globe, the IPCC reviews and assesses the latest information and research on climate change and its impact across the world. Since 1988, it has delivered extensive reports on the evolution of climate change and plans of action to curb its environmental and socio-economic effects, all made possible by the work of thousands of volunteer IPCC members. In addition to periodic reports and news updates, the IPCC’s fourth global assessment “Climate Change 2007” is available for download at their website.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

For many issues within the field of green IT and green business in general, the conversation begins and ends with the EPA. Established during the Nixon administration, the organization bears the responsibility of drafting and enforcing regulations to promote environmental health. Currently, the EPA employs over 17,000 individuals in the US and is constantly working with national, state, and local governmental organizations to monitor and enforce adherence to environmental regulations.

Unlike the organizations we’ve mentioned thus far, the work of the EPA can’t be viewed simply as best practices or worthwhile considerations, but as legally-enforced regulations. It is the responsibility of IT professionals to stay up-to-date and informed of developments with the EPA, especially as they relate to technology and business. The EPA’s website provides a wealth of information including overviews of key environmental issues, answers to common questions about regulations, news and resources for every area of environmental focus, and a database of EPA laws and regulations for each business sector.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)

Just as RoHS controls the environmental effect of electronic equipment at the beginning of their life, the WEEE directive places regulations on the end of electronics’ lives. Under the directive, electronics manufacturers are charged with the responsibility of overseeing safe disposal practices. These companies must make disposal options available to consumers free of charge. Again, the regulations are currently in place only in the European Union, but provide a structure for responsible consumption and disposal to companies around the world.

This completes the discussion of the topics beneath objective 2.2 and should provide you with the information you need to know for this portion of the exam. In the next installment, we will take a detailed analysis of objective 2.3: Identify methods to reduce workforce environmental impacts.

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