IT reseller Softchoice, which carries roughly 350,000 products in its database, has added a feature to its Web site that helps buyers filter for green purchasing criteria.
The service is made possible through a partnership between EPEAT (the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) and CNET Channel. (A disclaimer that OBVIOUSLY CNET Channel is part of CNET, which is the parent media organization that hosts this blog.) I would expect that other online retailers that are CNET Channel customers will look at marrying this search filtering with their own online categories. It would kind of weird if they didn't, because the service is, in fact, free.
The search actually is built transparently into the Softchoice site. Basically, all a buyer has to do is enter the word EPEAT or one of the specific EPEAT certification tiers (Bronze, Silver or Gold) to find a product. So, for example, you could search on "EPEAT Gold notebook" in order to identify which products live up to this level of environmental scrutiny. (There are 46 results returned for the search I just mentioned. Softchoice estimates that about 1,500 of its SKUs are EPEAT-registered.)
For perspective, the Bronze classification looks at 23 different criteria; an additional 28 measures go into picking Silver or Gold products. Among the factors that are consider include the materials that go into manufacturing a product, how long it lasts, its energy usage profile and how it can be disposed of or repurposed at the end of its useful life.