Fast Company

Sustainability: The Little Green Monster

If you use a desktop PC, chances are you've learned to deal with the obnoxious amount of space it takes up, the amount of power it consumes, and the fan noises that emanate from it at regular intervals. Yet, there is another alternative. The enano Computers line of compact PCs eliminates all those problems, and they're better for the environment.

Enano certainly isn't the first to come out with a small form factor computer (the Mac Mini claims that title), but the company is the first to place the primary focus on the environmental aspect. "We thought we were on to something good before green was taking on the crest of momentum that it has" says enano COO Bill Reh.

Although enano has received a certain amount of buzz since it launched as a division of The Chip Merchant in 2006, there hasn't been quite the computer revolution its founders may have dreamed about. "It took us about six months to learn that the typical electronics consumer didn't really care so much about the environment," Reh says. So, enano redirected its marketing efforts and retooled the design slightly, rolling out a new generation of PCs dubbed the e2 in May 2007. It also separated from TCM to become its own company.

enano.JPGBy enano's calculations, the environmental impact of one of their e2 PCs is considerably less than that of a traditional desktop. First off, the e2 is tiny - 8.8 by 6.8 by 1.65 inches - and it's 95 percent recyclable. The company claims the e2 is also 90 percent more energy-efficient, 65 percent cooler, 95 percent quieter and takes up 75 percent less space.

In idle mode, the e2 runs on the same amount of energy needed to power a 40 watt light bulb (The Mac Mini's energy consumption is slightly higher, according to Reh). Reh admits that one reviewer did its own calculations and found enano's numbers were too high, but he says the company is confident in its claims.

On the performance end, the e2 is comparable to the latest desktop. "It's similar in terms of processor speeds and disk capacity that you might find in the top-quality high-end PCs," says Reh. The e2 runs on both Windows and Linux, which is another edge over the Mac Mini, but it's a bit more expensive than the Apple version.

The company has enjoyed some high-profile partnerships in recent months, including the Live Earth concerts and the Brooklyn Center for Urban Environment. When the BCUE opens its new LEED-certified building next spring, all of its computers will be e2s. "As we learned of their mission, and likewise they learned of ours, they quickly realized that the philosophy of our company was very much congruent with where they were going at BCUE," Reh says. Enano beat out Dell for the contract with BCUE, even though the latter would have been the cheaper option.

Enano expects to come out with a new version of the e2 in late spring and a mobile device by mid-year. The next project, however, is a line of servers due out in early 2008. Reh says enano servers will save companies 50 to 70 percent on energy costs using the same amount of space they use currently.

According to Reh, the current interest in green products combined with more and more government mandates for increased energy efficiency put enano in a good position for the coming year. "We've got a long way to go and our vision is very much a long term one," he says. "We've been successful so far and I think we'll have a lot more success in '08 through increased awareness."

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