In consumer electronics, smart = green

A new watchdog group is hoping to build consensus around energy-efficiency features for your gadget, as well as a common rating system.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

There's a new watchdog group called the Smart-Electronics Initiative that is working on various campaigns not only to publicize the power consumption potential of gadgets but to also to work toward industry-wide standards and a labeling methodology that will help buyers better understand the green tech properties of what they are buying. Among its priorities are advocating things like the use of lighting emitting diodes (LEDs) and power factor correction.

For perspective, consider that all the gadgets in your house -- from your stereo to your home theater -- account for about 15 percent of your total household consumption. That amount is rising. Oh, and P.S., I don't think that includes what's in your home office, but I'm not totally sure. Another rather astonishing stat that the initiative is throwing around: by 2030, the consumption of all the electronic gadgets in our lives will triple to 1,700 terawatt hours, which is the current collective home power usage in the United States and Japan, combined.

The corporate powerhouse behind this new group is a rather self-interested party, Marvell, which makes the integrated silicon that goes into consumer electronics devices. The two other key stakeholders right now are GreenTech California and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. The organization was already involved in the development of the "Smart Electronics Act" that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. Among other things, the bill advocates the notion that consumer electronics should be covered as a category under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program.

Here are the four priorities of the Smart-Electronics Initiative:

  1. Call attention to the problem.
  2. Rally stakeholders to develop ways to address state and federal policy gaps.
  3. Look for ways to improve energy efficiency in consumer electronics through innovative technology.
  4. Develop a national measure of energy efficiency for consumer electronics devices.

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