Green matters



USPTO confusion


The US Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) Green Technology Pilot Program which seeks to expedite the examination of patent applications directed to certain green inventions has attracted 450 candidates in its since january. However the Commissioner in charge of the programme has warned manufacturers that applications are being slowed by problems in nailing down a completely accurate description of green technology.


The agency has now developed a workable solution using the existing patent classification system, said David Kappos, the Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office. Although he added that there are gaps in the system and will encourage "interested parties to notify the office with suggestions for how to improve it".


"Hopefully, the PTO will work to improve its programme, as promised by Kappos," said J Steven Rutt of nanotechnology firm Foley. "While we agree that there are remaining gaps in the system, we are grateful that the PTO is trying an innovative approach to expedite the examination of patent applications in the green technology space. The PTO’s willingness to accept comments from the public on how to improve the pilot approach illustrates an optimistic outlook for the future success of this programme."


Holt goes carbon neutral


UK reseller Holt Business Solutions is set to become just the second independent office supplies dealer in the UK to achieve carbon neutral status.


The Integra dealer group member has been working alongside industry experts to implement a series of more efficient business processes.


The company has already put into place a series of measures to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, by increasing the size of its warehouse by 150 per cent, Holt can now purchase in greater bulk from its suppliers. In keeping with its ethos of ‘using more van space and less road space’, it has significantly reduced supplier deliveries from five a week to just two a fortnight.


The number of suppliers has also been reduced from 200 to just 50, reducing the volume of invoices and leading to larger, less frequent orders. All invoicing will be conducted electronically. Holt is now set to roll out its drive to become carbon neutral by launching a scheme aimed at customers. Its programme aims to help customers recognise the effect they’re having on the environment and assist them in making more informed business process decisions.


"It’s quite rare for a company of our size to be stretching the boundaries in terms of environmental awareness and sustainability," said Trevor Holt, joint-Managing Director.


"The office supplies sector is a particularly wasteful industry and we want to revolutionise the way in which it works. We’re 100 percent committed to reducing our impact on the environment and want to help our customers to achieve greater efficiencies in the day-to-day running of their business. A few simple changes to business processes can make a real difference."


Depot partners with Energy Star…


Office Depot has signed up to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programme to become an Energy Star commercial buildings partner.


The programme means that Office Depot will continue to work to improve energy efficiency in the company’s retail stores, and commits to track its energy consumption at each individual location using Energy Star tools to score performance.


"The Energy Star rating system will help Office Depot ensure that each of our retail store locations is running as energy efficient as possible," said Edward Costa, VP of Construction for Office Depot.


"While we have been tracking the electricity usage in our facilities for a number of years now, the Energy Star programme will help validate our efficiencies at the individual store level by affirming those locations that are successfully lowering energy use and help us ensure that all stores are meeting our goals."


…and exceeds Earth Day target


Office Depot recycled 562 tons of of electronic waste through its Tech Trade-In promotion held in recognition of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary.


Depot had set out an initial challenge to its customers to collect 400 tons of products for recycling during the one-month promotion window. However, the retailer far exceeded its goal and helped its customers prevent more than 560 tons of ‘e-waste’ from ending up in landfills.


The 560-plus tons of technology trash recycled by Depot customers included printers, shredders, notebook computers, digital cameras and ink and toner cartridges. The majority of products were returned to California Office Depot retail stores (over 13 tons), followed by Florida and the Northeast US.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 3 million tons of e-waste were disposed of in 2007 in the US. Of this amount, only 410,000 tons or 13.6 percent was recycled. The rest was disposed of in either landfills or incinerators.


"When people consider ‘green’, the majority first think about recycling," said Yalmaz Siddiqui, Director of Environmental Strategy for Office Depot. "However, the recycling rate for technology and toner cartridges is still much lower than the rate for paper and plastic bottles. Through Office Depot’s 400 ton challenge, we wanted to help accelerate the adoption of technology recycling in the US. The results show that our customers responded."


Depot customers can continue to recycle their old ink and toner cartridges and receive $3 back in Worklife Rewards. Additionally, customers can still visit to trade in their old electronics and receive an Office Depot gift card. The gift card value is determined using a recycle trade-in value generated by Gazelle.


Morgan Lovell offers office itune-up


One of the UK’s leading office design, refurbishment, fit out and relocation specialists, Morgan Lovell, is releasing a series of podcasts on greener office design.


The bi-monthly podcasts feature the latest trends, technology and people in the world of sustainable office design. Hosted by Morgan Lovell’s brand expert Paul Kelly, each episode contains a tour of a ‘green’ office, an interview with an industry leader and views from podcast listeners.


The latest episodes can be downloaded via iTunes and listeners will be encouraged to contribute or ask questions on sustainable office design.


HP’s dairy alternative


HP may deserve a pat on the back for coming up with an alternative fuel source for the next generation of data centres – cow manure


No it’s not bull crap, HP researchers are giving serious thought to using cow manure to power data centres.


Representatives from HP Labs presented a paper at the ASME International Conference on Energy Sustainability in Arizona in May which details its plan to use animal waste to power data centres.


The paper says a dairy farm of 10,000 cows would be enough to power a mid-sized data centre with power needs of about one megawatt, while still leaving enough energy for the farm itself.


By using the heat already produced by the data centre, that manure can be encouraged to produce methane which is then used to generate electricity.


According to HP, each cow creates a whopping 120 pounds of manure a day, which in turn can create three kilowatt-hours of energy.