National Expansion of State Electronics Challenge Offers Opportunity for Climate Change & Sustainability Initiatives

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As of January 1 the State Electronics Challenge (http://www.stateelectronicschallenge.net) is rolling out across the United States. Access to this successful program is open to all state, regional, tribal, and local government entities that want to reduce the environmental footprint of their computer equipment.

As of January 1 the State Electronics Challenge (http://www.stateelectronicschallenge.net) is rolling out across the United States. Access to this successful program is open to all state, regional, tribal, and local government entities that want to reduce the environmental footprint of their computer equipment.

The opportunity to offer this program and technical assistance free-of-charge throughout the U.S. stems from the recent and generous sponsorship of the Challenge by the private sector–including Samsung, ISRI, Panasonic, Sims Recycling Solutions, and the Consumer Electronics Association, according to Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director of the Northeast Recycling Council, and Administrator of the Challenge program.

For the State Electronics Challenge, public entities—including state, regional, tribal and local government, state colleges and universities and school districts—sign-up as “Partners” and make a commitment to purchase environmentally preferable products, use power management, and ensure environmentally sound equipment recycling. In return, the Challenge program provides Partners with free resources and technical assistance for improving computer asset management practices and measuring results, and offers annual recognition to Partners that achieve program goals.

“As a result of being a Partner and the support offered by the Challenge, the state of Maine has significantly changed the way it manages its computer equipment. The Challenge helped the state set priorities and bring key functions together to make significant changes that resulted in direct environmental benefits as well as cost savings,” said Peter Cooke, Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The State Electronics Challenge has grown steadily during its three years of operation. Before the national expansion, the program encompassed 22 states. The Challenge started as a pilot in 10 Northeast states in 2007 and in 2009 added six Rocky Mountain States (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, and WY) with funding from U.S. EPA Region 8. NERC is currently launching the Challenge in the Great Lakes States of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in fall 2010.    

To date, nearly 50 government entities—representing almost 60,000 employees—have signed on as Challenge Partners to reduce their environmental footprint. In the first two full years of the program (2008-2009), 24 Partners—representing more than 36,000 employees—purchased almost 16,000 “green” computers defined by the EPEAT® environmental performance standard and recycled over 17,500 units. Their collective efforts resulted in the reduction of 44 million kWh of energy, equivalent to the electricity needed to power 3,700 households annually; and 380 tons of municipal solid waste, equivalent to the waste generated by 180 households per year.

According to Don Greene of the New York State Office of General Services, “A few years ago, New York began the process of re-examining our procurement requirements for personal computer equipment. At that time the State Electronics Challenge provided us with important information and resources that helped New York amend our Aggregate PC requirements to mandate all computers under the program qualify as EPEAT. As we learned more, the requirements we set quickly changed from Bronze to Silver and now Gold, the highest green standard in the United States. The environmental results as well as savings have been significant and we have learned that in this case, you can be mindful of environmental stewardship and not sacrifice quality or cost.”    

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a State Electronics Challenge partner since 2008, received a USEPA Environmental Quality Award for implementing a “green” purchasing program that has helped reduce the environmental impacts of buying, operating and disposing of computer equipment. “Being an SEC partner helped our agency focus not only on how to purchase environmentally preferable products, but on new ways to save energy, lower costs, increase recycling, measure results, and ultimately reduce our environmental footprint.” added Mark Moroukian of DEC’s Division of Materials Management. To achieve the greatest overall environmental benefits for New York, the DEC plans to share its successes with other state agencies and encourage all levels of government to join the State Electronics Challenge.

Challenge Partners come in all sizes, ranging from the entire Maine state government to cities such as Providence, Rhode Island and Keene, New Hampshire, state environmental agencies, school districts, universities, colleges, and regional programs. For the current list of Partners, visit http://stateelectronicschallenge.net/current_partners.html

Over the next few months the State Electronics Challenge will host several introductory Webinars to provide prospective Partners with the opportunity to learn more about the Challenge.

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, Northeast Recycling Executive Director and Challenge Program Administrator, (802-254-3636), or visit the Challenge Website at http://www.stateelectronicschallenge.net.

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