The Climate Savers Computing Initiative was announced in June as a world-wide effort to cut IT carbon emissions. It was backed by three heavyweights: Google; Intel; and the World Wildlife Fund. The idea was to focus on IT energy use and to harness the energies of both IT buyers and IT manufacturers by having buyers pledge to buy more energy-efficient products on the one hand, and manufacturers pledge to make more efficient products on the other.

It set to work generating a practical scheme for this as well as recruiting new members. In November, with over 100 members, a catalogue of over 300 more energy-efficient IT products was announced. However there has been some criticism of CSCI. It's standard for environmentally-friendly product differs from that of EPEAT. The CSCI, like EPEAT, bases its energy-efficiency work on the US government-backed Energy Star standard but aims to go beyond it. (Energy Star 4.0 defines an 80 percent efficiency level for PC power supplies with an intention to improve on that in the future.)

Thus IT buyers face three overlapping standards with CSCI accused by some of splintering the standards efforts.

Also the CSCI catalogue only listed products from CSCI members, opening the alliance to being described as a trade association and not really a worldwide carbon emission-cutting organisation.

Techworld interviewed two CSCI board members and put questions around these issues to them. The board members were Bill Wiehl, the green energy czar at Google, and Matthew Guyer, the World Wildlife Fund's director of corporate relations. Their responses have been shortened for reasons of space.

Techworld: Is the CSCI an exclusive members' trade association

BW: We are a members' organisation but far from exclusive. We're open to anyone who wants to join. The goal is to drive energy efficiency higher across the industry. We're trying to do it faster than Energy Star. We're not dissimilar to EPEAT. Manufacturers have to pay administration costs to list their products; $2,500 is quite a nominal sum for this.

MG: Also, along with EPEAT, we want to do some education and raise awareness about efficiency in general.

Techworld: Is there a verification method attached to the claims made on the CSCI website?

BW: There are defined protocols for measuring them. Just as with Energy Star manufacturers self-certify and then we do spot checks. We expect to have a formal certification programme in 2008.

MG: Both Energy Star and EPEAT do self-certification and spot checks. We're hoping to monitor customers on their commitments.

Techworld: How are EPEAT and the CSCI represented in the public and private sectors?

MG: EPEAT has success in federal agencies and the public sector. I think it has the criteria to enroll private sector customers, such as Kaiser Permanente. Two (US) states have joined in CSCI.

BW: A big part of what we are trying to do is to raise awareness and educate people; organisations and individuals. We're trying to do that both on the demand side and the supply side. People haven't traditionally bought IT products for their energy efficiency. CSCI customer members are pledged to buy CSCI-certified products.