If your business is interested in green office solutions, then you may have heard of the government’s EPEAT system. But what is it, and how can it guide purchasing and layout decisions where you work?

EPEAT stands for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and refers to electronic devices and products that are optimized for efficient energy use. It’s a program designed to rank computers, copiers, and other common office items based on their energy performance and overall conservation.

To be registered as EPEAT-certified, products need to meet certain criteria, including aspects that refer to packaging and design elements. There are three “tiers” of EPEAT qualification: the lowest, bronze, refers solely to the required criteria, while the silver and gold tiers pertain to extra “optional” requirements.

The criteria were created through a collaboration between the government and environmental organizations. Although these standards are voluntary, they focus on aspects of office products that make a difference over time.

A special series of slides released this July outlines the different areas that EPEAT covers now and is expected to extend to soon, such as televisions, servers, and mobile devices.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages offices to check the registry of approved devices when considering office equipment purchases. The official website of the program also allows managers to use an “Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator” to plan their program. Once offices are equipped with just a few approved devices, they can use the calculator and other tools start replacing more and more items with greener options.

A 2012 EPEAT report found that more than 22,000 products were registered in 41 countries around the world. In the United States, there were just over 2,350. Managers researching office furnishings should consult these government ratings to determine which devices will save them the most energy.