Green IT at Projekt Neptun

Michael Fiechter

9 November 2017


Sustainability is an important factor in the decision for or against a device, but with laptops, it’s often hard to gauge how green a product really is. Even though there are labels that signify some aspects of sustainability in computers, manufacturers usually keep surprisingly quiet about them. Additionally, being green for a laptop means more than that it uses little electricity: sustainability encompasses everything from production, usage and recycling of a device, the social conditions in which the necessary resources where mined and the device was produced, to the materials that were used for the device and its packaging. Additionally, green IT devices should be sturdy, repairable, and upgradeable to ensure a long useful life. At Projekt Neptun, all these considerations influence our decisions on the devices we offer each semester.

Looking for sustainability

As sustainability plays an important part in the selection of the devices that Projekt Neptun offers, all manufacturers that collaborate with us need to deliver certificates for their products, proving how they comply with environmental and social standards. All our partners certify their laptops with EPEAT and some also carry EnergyStar, ECO-IT, or TCO labels. These labels form the basis for a decision to evaluate a device for a Neptun offer.
Before a laptop is added to a Neptun sales window, we evaluate its sustainability in terms of power consumption, future-proof performance and features, repairability, and build quality. The selected configuration of all devices has to be powerful enough to ensure the laptop’s usefulness for as long as possible. This includes the ports and wireless connectivity of the laptop. Power consumption is tested in all usage scenarios, including standby where power draw should be below 1 Watt. Laptops are also tested for their build quality of their ports, their case, screen hinges, and other components. Finally, we check every laptop to see how easily components can be repaired and upgraded. Every manufacturer must be able to deliver a warranty of at least three years for laptops or at least two years for tablets, so their products can be repaired rather than replaced when damage occurs.

What can you do

Even with Projekt Neptun’s selection of laptops that are chosen in part for their sustainability, finding the greenest laptop can still be hard. Since most of our laptops are business models and all manufacturers compete for the same calls for bids, the certificates they provide for their products are very similar. Apart from Microsoft who score lower, all manufacturers get the same 21-22 points out of 27 in the EPEAT ranking with current Neptun laptops. Similarly, they can all provide other certificates that prove their focus on sustainability in some way. However, there are ways to find out more about Neptun devices and other products as well: Firstly, Greenpeace have renewed their ranking of manufacturers on their general performance in sustainability; secondly, you can easily browse for EPEAT  and TCO rankings in the net to find out in which categories your next laptop, TV, or cell phone excels; lastly, you can try to find a device that fits your needs for as long as possible.

Most Neptun laptops are configured towards the higher-end of what’s possible in these machines. This is to ensure that they stay useful for as long as possible. Additionally, we detail on our website which components can be replaced or upgraded in case your requirements change or something breaks. Apple devices and many laptops that are very thin have components which are soldered onto the motherboard and can’t be replaced. Therefore, since up to 80% of the energy consumption in the lifetime of laptop occurs during its manufacture, slightly less sleek laptops generally are more sustainable as their life spans can be extended with upgrades and easier repairs.

Conclusion

Sustainability remains a focus for Projekt Neptun and we’ll keep on selecting laptops that are as long-lived and useful as possible, while remaining vigilant that our partners also keep up high social and environmental standards. Furthermore, to help you use technology in the most sustainable way, we provide support for repairs and upgrades of devices with or without warranty at our help points. Feel free to contact about sustainability, upgrades, or repairs at kontakt@projektneptun.ch.