Where are the green phones at CES 2010?

Green once again is being pushed at CES, but this year's offerings leave much to be desired

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Impressive as that may sound, I'm not convinced LG has broken down any green barriers. The criteria for this new UL SPC appear essentially identical to those of EPEAT, which are contained in the IEEE 1680 standard. Thus, it seems LG has developed yet another monitor that meets EPEAT Gold criteria but doesn't otherwise raise the green bar. In fact, 22 other monitors have higher EPEAT ratings. However, by having it certified by a third party, the company is able to claim a special distinction.

I certainly give credit to LG for recruiting a third party to verify the green qualities of its new monitor. One shortcoming to EPEAT is that registered products aren't required to undergo any third-party verification; instead, registered products undergo spot checks to ensure vendors are being honest. But I'm looking forward to seeing a vendor come out with a monitor that, for example, earns a perfect EPEAT score or sets a new green standard for computer displays.

I don't mean to suggest that the green offerings at CES are a collective bust, because there are some interesting offerings with potential applications in both the home and the office.

Among them, energy reseller Direct Energy, teaming up with big-name companies such as Whirlpool and Best Buy, is unveiling the Home Energy Management (HEM) center, a networked (as the name implies) home energy management system aimed at cutting electricity bills. The system, which Direct Energy will first test at about 40 homes in Houston, marks a key step in the smart-grid evolution: empowering users with data and tools to better manage how they use power.

An end-to-end solution that connects with appliances around the home or office, HEM leverages smart meter data to help users manage power consumption in the most efficient, inexpensive way possible. For example, users will be able to program the device to run the dishwasher or the washing machine during off-peak hours when energy is more abundant and rates are lower. They'll also have access to real-time power-consumption data via an interactive touch-screen, as well as via their PC, TV, or smartphone.

Meanwhile, a startup out of Adelaide, Australia, called Embertec is a CES Innovations 2010 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for its EmberCeptor Power Saving Devices. Using specially designed digital processors, the devices automatically monitor and manage passive standby power (the electricity appliances draw when they're turned off) and active standby power (drawn by devices left on but not being used) consumed by electronics, including computers.

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