Electronic Design

What’s Next For Green Design?

Certainly, we’re seeing new energy-saving designs that address the needs of the highly competitive commercial and consumer sectors become a standard feature in new products. Now, as the federal government gets into the act to become more eco-friendly, its electronic procurements represents a clear business opportunity. “One of our efforts will be to determine what kind of reporting options are available to capture data on green electronic procurements,” says Juan Lopez, an electronics industry specialist at OFEE, who chairs a multi-agency task force addressing this issue. “We’re looking at that right now.” Lopez and his group expect to make recommendations on collecting government procurement data on electronics equipment to the Office of Management and Budget no later than September this year. Meanwhile, there’s a proposal in Congress for a new government agency patterned after the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The House Science and Technology Committee held hearings in April on legislation that would lead to the formation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E). House bill H.R. 364 would establish the agency and create an Energy Independence Acceleration Fund to pay for energy research projects. Is all of this effort going to make the industry “green” enough to meet future needs? Gartner Inc., the market research and consulting firm, doesn’t think so. In its report, “Facing the Challenge of Worldwide ‘Green’ Legislation,” Gartner suggests that electronics manufacturers invest in research and development that anticipates future green regulations. “Failure to transition products \[to design-for-the-environment concepts\] on time can lead to high inventories and dramatic price cuts, similar to the effect we saw in Western Europe as the RoHS came into effect,” Gartner says in its report. “Non-compliant components will be gradually removed from the global supply chain and force manufacturers to discontinue products that contain them.” As Gartner sees it, non-green parts will be assigned end-of-life status, and green legislation will eventually impact every PC manufacturer. “The worldwide market should expect to see longer lead times, part shortages, and rising prices for non-compliant parts over the next two years.”

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