TCO calls for more efficient computer use



More efficient use of IT products and climate friendly purchases of new equipment could reduce the climate impact of PCs and other IT-related products by more than 80 per cent, according to a new study by TCO Development, the Swedish organisation behind the TCO environmental labels.


"The 1 billion computer monitors that are in use all over the world generate 53 million tons of CO2 and need as much electric power as the yearly consumption of Sweden," said Haakan Nordin, project manager for climate and environment at TCO Development.


TCO Development lists three steps that everyone can take that, if taken together, is says could reduce the climate impact from computers by more than 80 per cent.

  • Choose computer equipment based on power consumption in active mode. An energy efficient desktop PC uses up to 65 per cent less energy than a standard desktop PC. If energy efficient notebooks are compared with advanced desktop PCs used for CAD/CAM the difference is over 1,000 percent.
  • Activate energy settings on your computer. 65 per cent of the CO2 emissions are attributed to computers that are not turned off or do not have energy save functions activated. The simplest solution is to use notebook computer settings, even when using a desktop.
  • Turn off your computer when not in use. User studies show that an average office computer is turned on, but not in use, more than 50 per cent of the time.

"If we change our ways of using IT equipment, and make full use of all the environmental features of this technology we can reduce CO2 emissions without any impact on our daily lives," commented Nordin.


The TCO label is well established in the computer display (monitors) sector, with approximately 50 percent of all displays manufactured in the world carrying the label.


Hakaan Nordin told that TCO is more far-reaching than other eco-labels.


"In comparison with Blue Angel, Energy Star, etc. the TCO label is a multi- attribute label," he said.


"From an environmental perspective the TCO label is competing with other ‘green tags’, but the TCO label also covers other requirements."


The label is centred around the 4 Es: energy, emissions, environment and ecology.


For example, for displays, as well as the requirements for power consumption, qualifying products must pass a battery (sic) of other tests, including:


– ergonomics: sharpness and quality of image to prevent eye fatigue, height adjustability


– emissions: low noise levels (for all-in-ones) and low levels of electromagnetic output


– ecology: ISO 14001 or equivalent certification of the manufacturer, the design must enable certain recyclable components to be easily removed


Nordin also says that another advantage of TCO labelling is that it is third-party validated.


"To be able to use the TCO label your product must pass strict testing procedures conducted by independent test laboratories," he explained.


"Many other labels, such as Energy Star, are self-certifying – with a third party certification the quality of the label is guaranteed."


TCO is now trying to expand both its product and geographical footprints.


"We are trying to extend the label to other product groups such as laptops, desktops, headsets and office furniture," confirmed Haakan Nordin.


"For notebooks and desktops we now see an increasing interest from the manufacturers. The standard for headsets was launched in 2007 and we have already 4 manufacturers that have certified their products."


Nordin also said that TCO has developed a label for mobile phones, but so far no mobile phone manufacturers have signed up for it, despite TCO research that indicates that users would like to have such a label.


The TCO label has its origins in Sweden in the late 1980s and early 1990s (TCO takes its name from the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees – Tjänstemännens Central Organisation) and has developed widespread recognition in the Nordic region, where many government agencies and large corporations require TCO labelling for their computer displays.


The label has also had some success in the US where a number of states and cities specify the use of TCO labels as a desirable element in their procurement contracts and processes.


"Through our representatives in the US, Germany and Taiwan and close co- operation with test labs we are trying to extend our geographical presence," stated Nordin.


More information about TCO Development and its labelling programmes can be found by clicking here.