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NERC in the News

Government Organizations in the Northeast Save Power and Avoid Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Distributed Energy, the Journal of Energy Efficiency and Reliability; March 29, 2010

The efforts of twelve government organizations—ranging in size from a regional technology program in Pennsylvania to the state of Maine—participating in a voluntary environmental challenge made significant environmental strides in 2009.  Their combined efforts resulted in avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing more than 1,800 cars from the roads and enough energy savings to power 1,450 homes.  And, they did it by buying green computers, being sure that energy saving strategies were implemented for each computer, and reusing and recycling computers in ways that protect the environment.

Purchasing more environmentally friendly computer equipment avoided the use of 569 pounds of toxic materials such as lead and mercury in the manufacture of new computers, while recycling computers at the end-of-life avoided the generation of almost 35 tons of hazardous waste.  Reusing and recycling computer equipment rather than discarding it also reduced municipal solid waste equivalent to the amount of trash generated by 32 households a year.   

The voluntary program that the government organizations are participating in is the State Electronics Challenge (SEC). It assists state, regional, and local governments in the Northeast to reduce the environmental impact of their computers.   

Four SEC Partner organizations have recently been recognized for demonstrating exceptional leadership in electronics stewardship for 2009.  SEC Partners are eligible three recognition levels – Bronze, Silver, or Gold – based on completion of SEC program requirements. This year the following achievements are recognized, including the first gold level recognition issued by the SEC:

  • The City of Providence, Rhode Island, School Department received the SEC’s first gold recognition for purchasing green computers, reducing the energy consumption of computer units in operation by implementing strategies to better manage and control energy consumption, and implementing environmentally sound end-of-life recycling practices.
  • Maine’s State government and the Town of Windsor, Connecticut each achieved silver recognition for purchasing environmentally preferable computers, extending the life of computers through reuse programs, and recycling obsolete equipment at facilities that adhere to environmentally sound management practices.
  • The Regional Technology Center Program, State College, Pennsylvania, achieved bronze recognition for its end-of-life recycling program for computers and computer components.

The SEC is a voluntary program developed and administered by the Northeast Recycling Council.  The SEC provides an opportunity for state, regional, and local government to reduce the environmental impact of the more than $35 billion worth of technology equipment purchased annually by state and local governments in the U.S.   Currently, 38 state, regional, and local government agencies, collectively employing almost 50,000 people, have joined the SEC as Partners.  For more information on the SEC, including a list of current Partner organizations, visit