Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Electronics Stewardship—“greening” the U.S. Coast Guard computer lifecycle

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by LCDR Amy Bloyd, Standard Workstation asset manager, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Information Systems and Infrastructure.

Like any other federal agency, the U.S. Coast Guard relies on an extensive network of computers to support all of its missions. Managing these computers in an environmentally sound manner is an important goal of the U.S. Coast Guard’s information technology (IT) community.

Environmentally Responsible IT Procurement
In procuring computer resources, the U.S. Coast Guard not only looks for the best value and performance in equipment; it also uses available federal resources to ensure its computers are environmentally friendly. An important tool used to procure computers is the electronic product environmental assessment tool™ (EPEAT).

This tool was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and developed by a team comprised of industry experts that allows purchasers to compare electronic products based on environmental attributes, including reduction and elimination of environmentally sensitive materials, design for end of life, lifecycle extension, energy conservation, and packaging.

Environmentally Friendly Operations
Not only does the U.S. Coast Guard seek to minimize the environmental impact of its computer resources in procurement, but it also takes steps to operate its systems in a manner that is safe for the environment. The Coast Guard uses computers that are Energy Star®-qualified, which establishes efficiency requirements for all modes of a computer’s operation, enhancing energy savings.

In addition to conserving energy during the operation of its computer resources, the U.S. Coast Guard also maximizes the lifetime of these resources. We currently purchase a five-year warranty with all Coast Guard standard workstations. A longer computer lifetime leads to decreased waste production and saves money by decreasing the demand for new hardware.

Environmentally Aware Disposal
After a computer has reached the end of its useful life, we take several important steps to ensure that all computers are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. One way is to transfer the equipment to other federal agencies that might be able to put the equipment to use.

Yet another option for computer disposal is to donate the computers to a learning program. In the USCG photo at left, 23 used computers were donated to Gakona Public School in Valdez, Alaska, courtesy of the local Coast Guard Marine Safety Office.

Finally, if the systems are not suitable for donation to either schools or other federal offices, the U.S. Coast Guard transfers the equipment to local defense reutilization marketing offices, where the equipment is sold, donated, or disposed of in accordance with federal environmental regulations.

For more information:
Full article and “Environmental Protection” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/Winter2008-09/.

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.

Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil.