The U.S. government recently announced that federal agencies will soon be required to purchase PCs and computer monitors that meet specific environmental standards, Computerworld reports. The U.S. Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the federal General Services Administration jointly released a ruling that would require all federal agencies to use products rated by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). The three-tiered EPEAT system, developed by the Oregon-based Green Electronics Council, rates computer products for meeting 51 criteria such as ease of disassembly and absence of non-recyclable paints. Products must conform to 23 criteria to earn a bronze rating and can earn silver or gold for meeting more stringent standards. According to one government vendor expert, the U.S. government purchases roughly 2.2 million systems annually, ensuring the change will likely impact the broader consumer market. Specifically, he likens the change to the way Energy Star compliance surged after the government’s order for agency compliance in the 1990s. Thus far, few vendors produce compliant products, with Dell Inc. selling six gold-rated and 72 silver-rated products, Apple selling 17 silver-rated products and Hewlett-Packard selling one gold-rated and 73 silver-rated products. Computerworld reports, however, that the U.S. shift toward EPEAT products could also improve sales in other countries such as Canada, where the government requires at least a silver rating and offers extra consideration for gold-rated EPEAT products. In addition, the general EPEAT requirement of eliminating products with lead, mercury, cadmium and other substances would put the U.S. on a par with the European Union, which in July 2007 passed a restriction on importing electronics made with these substances (Thibodeau, Computerworld, 1/6/08).