How to green your laptop purchase
We take a look at several laptops that got top reviews in the Green Electronics Council’s EPEAT tool.
Thu, Sep 15 2011 at 12:29 PM
Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images
When it comes to eco-friendly laptops, there are the well-known heavyweights. Apple and Dell have widely publicized their green policies and materials standards. But they aren’t alone. Toshiba, Lenovo, Sony and a host of others boast reductions in the use of heavy metals, lightening their carbon footprint and electronics recycling options that are easy for consumers.
And you don’t just have to take their word for it.
Eco-conscious laptop buyers can visit EPEAT, short for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, a measurement system managed by the Green Electronics Council.
It’s similar to LEED in that manufacturers voluntarily register their product with EPEAT and get rated gold, silver or bronze, based on criteria such as eliminating intentionally added cadmium and mercury and lead, as well as product longevity and end-of-life design elements such as the elimination of paint that isn’t compatible with recycling.
Corporate responsibility also comes into play, with service-related items such as easy recycling for consumers and extended warranty options (if it’s broke, you might as well fix it).
Products that meet only the required criteria are designated bronze, products that meet the requirements plus at least 50 percent of optional criteria are designated silver and products that meet the requirements plus 75 percent or more of optional criteria are designated gold.
The only trick those searching for laptops need to remember is that the site calls them notebooks, and there are plenty of options out there: Of the 1,669 notebooks rated by EPEAT, 1,015 are rated gold.
Going for gold
With the plethora of options and pricing in the gold category, it only makes sense for the eco-conscious to buy within it. The best bet is to know what you want, then check the product rating. All these notebooks ranked gold, and with one exception earned maximum EPEAT points possible in their reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials, product longevity and design for end of life, among others.
If you’re looking for maximum portability, the eco-friendly Samsung Series 9 Notebook NP900X1A features the space-agey material duralumin, which Samsung says is the same material used in advanced aircraft. The material is what allows the laptop to weigh in at less than three pounds, and it’s just over 11.5 inches wide, with two gigabytes of memory and a 64-gigabyte hard drive. In both design and function, it gets heavy comparisons to the MacBook Air.
Speaking of the MacBook Air, both the 11-inch and the 13-inch weigh in at gold. For consumers who prefer a few more data ports and a little bit more heft in their hard drive (and weight), MacBook Pros in all sizes also obtained a gold rating.
The Toshiba Portégé R830 series ranks in at gold, and the 13-inch R835-P70 model scores high marks from owners for its battery life, lightweight portability and speed, with a 2.3 gigahertz Intel Core i5 processor, 4 gigabytes of memory and a 640-gigabyte hard drive. Priced at less than $1,000, it also tends to score high marks for affordability that doesn’t skimp on features that count for the average laptop user.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X200 series all received gold, but high marks have gone to the X220 model, particularly for its battery life and its three USB ports, one of which remains powered even when the laptop is off (think: cell phone charging).
This series didn’t score full points in the product longevity category because it lacked a modular design, but it made up for it in the energy conservation category, meeting two optional criteria, with early adoption of new Energy Star specifications and a renewable energy accessory available.
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