Sunday, February 17, 2008

Journal #9: Power Mac G4 Assessment

I checked out one of the articles that I hadn't read posted on the course webpage which was an environmental assessment of the Power Max G4 released in 1999. This, I assumed, was the first G4 model since the model was manufactured between 1999-2004.

The reading first states that it is not a complete life cycle analysis, but a focus on the product's environmental impact in its use stage. I was a little leery of the study's neutrality, as I figured the authors were consultants hired by Apple. But they presented several areas where the product could be upgraded as challenges for the future, mostly concerning the hazardous materials used in the product.

There are three areas the reading cites as significant improvements in desktop computers at the time: energy consumption, materials, and repairability. Where the G4 showed the greatest achievements were in its energy consumption as its maximum power usage was 75% below the Energy Star requirements at the time. This is due to its ability to use only 5 watts of power during sleep mode. The G4 has a greatly reduced number of components in the model, as well as making many of the parts easily repairable. This saves in the amount of material used along with customers being able to repair the product more often than just having to scrap it.

This is a great example of what we talked about in class, along with one of my earlier posts, about choosing what to design for. In this case, we can assume that there was a heavy focus on reducing the energy use and materials waste in the design phase of the product, although there could be other aspects that were not discussed in the study. I went to apple's environment site to learn a little more about what they focus on now, and it appears that from the design to the end-of-life, environmental aspects are continually considered.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

interestingly, Apple has gotten a lot of grief about how poorly they attend to environmental issues...