Going "green" remains more of a concept than a reality for many companies. But it's time to finally take some action: Those fizzling old CRT monitors, beige desktop computers, and massive copiers from 2004--you know you have at least one of those lurking around--suck up juice by the kilowatt-hour. Here's a list of green gear that will help lower your utility bill--and give your office a high-tech upgrade.--John Brandon
Some green gadgets save power when they turn off automatically. The Nest Learning Thermostat, which works fine in an office environment, can save on your heating and cooling bills based on when you are not around. You train the thermostat by adjusting the temperature at the end of the day when you leave. There’s also a motion sensor that learns when no one is around. Entrepreneurs with a penchant for control can even adjust the temp using a mobile app.
Your wattage input for office gadgets is critical. This new eco model from ViewSonic draws only 15.5 watts in a special eco mode, thanks to the energy-saving LED technology. (LED backlit displays use about 50% less power than LCD monitors.) Even with the money-saving green features, this monitor uses a 20,000,000:1 contrast ratio and pumps out a bright, high-res image.
This color printer is packed with eco features. There’s an auto-off mode to save power, and the printer starts up quickly so you can print and be done (and use less power). There are individual ink cartridges so you can replace them one at a time, which is better for the environment. Another handy eco-perk: You can automatically set the printer to print everything double-sided.
I wrote about the PC version of this solar-powered keyboard not long ago, but the K760 is for Mac users. The innovation here is the software that shows power level and usage on your desktop. The keys are amazingly responsive. As for the eco-friendliness: You never need to use a battery.
The power strips in your office right now are probably not that smart. This model has one main control outlet for managing energy. Say you have your main computer plugged into the control outlet. When you turn off your computer for the day, the power strip senses that shutdown and turns off power to the other outlets on the strip--say, your printer, desk light, and shredder.
This high-end Windows phone has all the bells and whistles to keep pace with Apple's iPhone 4S, including a bright screen, plenty of business apps, and a fast processor. But it also has a few features energy-conscious users will like: You can set the phone in a unique power-saving mode so that it won't check for new emails, update the OS features, or run any background tasks. The phone is made of environmentally friendly materials and is free of harmful brominated and chlorinated compounds and antimony trioxide.
Your company cars could probably use a green upgrade, too. Check out the 2012 Toyota Prius C, which has more eco-friendly features than most copiers and printers. There’s a dedicated electric vehicle mode that uses electric power (only at slow speeds and for short bursts). You can expect about 50 miles per gallon.