A supposedly zero carbon PC is being developed by PC World, featuring wood casing for keyboard, screen and mouse. Use of recycled materials and low electricity needs will reduce its carbon footprint to 85% of a standard PC. (Photo here.)
Reminiscent of a wood-framed Morris Traveller estate the 'carbon buster' as it known is mostly made from recycled aluminium, steel and plastics. There is an external power supply and the hardback book-sized aluminium chassis has lots of ventilation slots, removing the need for a fan.
Dixon Stores Group International (DSGi) says its new own-brand PC will draw just 45 watts, 23% of a standard PC's 200 watts, and have the same capacity as a current PC, enough DSGi says, to run Vista. There has been criticism that Vista is a resource-hungry OS and shouldn't have been chosen. A Green Party spokesperson said this might be a mistake.
Derek Wall of the Green Party said: "Vista requires more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment."
Simply removing a fan doesn't reduce a PC's power-draw by 155 watts, and the expectation is that the wooden PC will use a notebook-class CPU and graphics chips, making it a pedestrian performer. Its enhanced and power-hungry graphics capabilities will probably not be available.
To make the wooden PC carbon-neutral, PC World will buy carbon offsets. These are being criticised as allowing people to use carbon-emitting devices now with no guarantee that an equivalent amount of carbon will actually be taken out of the atmosphere over the next 10 to 30 years.
DSGi has climbed aboard the green bandwagon. Currys is switching off sales of incandescent light bulbs. All of DSGi’s UK retail chains comply with the new WEEE directive - they have to, though, and Currys’ new distribution centre in Newark helps the group reduce carbon emissions by 600 tonnes per annum. Some DSGI set-top boxes are graded "Energy Saving Recommended" by the Energy Saving Trust. The group is encouraging the use of recycled carrier bags and working to phase out use of stand-by functions.
John Clare, DSGi's chief executive, said: "Electronic devices form a key part of our lives, and as the number of electronic appliances we own increase, DSGi works actively to off-set the trend of increased domestic energy consumption. I believe that it is critical that DSGi maintains its position as being actively engaged in this area. As a business we are now more effectively showcasing the good work that has already been done and the progress the business has made."
The wooden Advent could be on PC World's shelves by the autumn and cost £399 with the wooden flat-panel screen costing £100 more. A model with an integrated screen will be available later on.