Frequently Asked Questions
The State Electronics Challenge
Participation in the SEC
The State Electronics Challenge
- What is the State Electronics Challenge?
The State Electronics Challenge (SEC) is a free program that challenges public entities at the state, regional, tribal, and local level, as well as schools, colleges, and universities, to “green” the management of their office equipment, including computers, monitors, printers and copiers. Public entities that take the challenge are referred to as “Partners.” SEC Partners can choose to “green” one or more lifecycle areas of their choice, including purchasing environmentally-preferred office electronics, improving power and paper consumption while equipment is in use, or optimizing and responsibly managing equipment taken out of service through equipment reuse and recycling. Each year Partners can choose to apply for an award recognizing their accomplishments.
- Who sponsors the State Electronics Challenge?
The State Electronics Challenge (SEC) is sponsored by Samsung, Panasonic and the R2/RIOS program. Several regional offices of the US Environmental Protection Agency provided seed funding for SEC program development and regional education and partner recruitment, including EPA Regions 2, 5, 7, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
A complete list of sponsors is available on the SEC website.
Information about becoming a sponsor of the Challenge is available on the SEC website.
- Is there any connection between the SEC and the Federal Electronics Challenge?
Yes, the SEC is modeled after the Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC). Only Federal Agencies can be FEC Partners. The SEC offers a parallel program to the FEC but adapted to meet the needs of state, regional, tribal, and local public entities.
- What are the goals of the SEC?
The goal of the SEC is to recruit “Partners” that commit to setting goals and implementing activities aimed at improving the environmental stewardship of their office equipment, including:
- The purchase of environmentally preferable computer products that meet the performance standards of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT®).
- The use of power management features on computer systems and imaging equipment to realize energy savings.
- Decreased use of consumables (i.e., paper, toner and ink)
- Extending the lifespan of office equipment through strategies such as selective upgrades of equipment and donation.
- The recycling of computers in an environmentally sound manner.
- What are the benefits of becoming an SEC Partner?
By becoming a Partner, you will be demonstrating environmental leadership in your state, region, and the nation. Your actions as a Partner will have significant environmental impact. The SEC provides Partners with the tools to get the job done, including Partner-only Webinars and free one-on-one technical assistance.
- What type of electronic equipment is targeted?
The Challenge focuses on office electronics, including computers, monitors, notebooks, printers, copiers, and multifunction devices. These products are ubiquitous and are addressed by EPEAT, the leading “green” rating system for electronic products. As environmental performance standards are developed for other electronic products, such as mobile phones and slates, these products will become likely candidates for inclusion in the SEC. Of course, Partners can choose to address other types of electronic equipment in addition to this list.
Participation in the SEC
- Who can join the SEC as a Partner?
Any entity within state, regional, tribal, or local government in the United States is eligible to join the State Electronics Challenge. This includes, for example, departments or agencies within state government, counties and cities; school districts or individual public school; public colleges and universities, public hospital; and public utilities.
- Can more than one office within an agency be a Partner?
Any facility, office, or department within an eligible entity can register as an SEC Partner. Partners should not overlap, however. For example, if a school district joins the SEC as a Partner, then individual schools within the district are not eligible to be separate Partners, but are already Partners because of the district’s partnership.
- Can private companies join the SEC and contribute to state results?
Only public entities, schools, colleges, and universities are eligible to join the State Electronics Challenge. However, any organization or institution is encouraged to use the SEC tools and standards and to implement the program on their own.
- What if our organization is already recycling computers, can we still participate?
Any public entity can join the SEC, regardless of what programs are already in place. By joining the SEC your organization can get credit for existing programs, while expanding programs or activities in other areas.
- Does the SEC recommend recyclers or brands of office equipment?
The SEC does require that Partners use only electronics recyclers that have achieved third party certification and that new purchases of office equipment be EPEAT registered, but it does not single out or recommend companies or entities.
- Our organization just registered for the SEC, now what?
See Getting Started for a more detailed discussion of next steps. Within four to six weeks of joining the SEC, Partners should submit the Benchmark & Annual Reporting Form. Completing this form is a great way to assess your organization’s current activities and open up communication with other departments or functions within your organization. Next, review the Program Requirements Checklist and decide whether you want to work on purchasing, use, end-of-life management, or all three lifecycle areas. Then, over the course of the year, implement the program requirements.
- When can we apply for awards?
Applications for Awards are due by January 31 for activities completed between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year.
- When do I need to complete the program requirements in order to apply for an award?
Program requirements should be completed between January 1 and December 31. The Annual Reporting Form and Award Application are due by January 31 for activities completed the previous year.
- If we got an award already, are we eligible for awards in future years?
Absolutely! The SEC encourages organizations to continually improve their practices and address additional issues, so why not continue to recognize their efforts! We expect that many Partners will receive at the Bronze, or even Silver awards, in their first year participating in the SEC. In subsequent years, they might work towards a Gold award, completing program requirements in all three lifecycle areas – purchasing, use, and end-of-life management.
- Can more than one office within an agency get an award?
Awards are based on completing program requirements, and will be awarded to all eligible Partners.
- Is there an easy way to be kept informed about the SEC, for example, upcoming Webinars?
The SEC has a listserv to notify Partners of important events such as webinars and new resources that are available on the website.
- How do I register for a Partner-only Webinar?
Just send the following information to email@example.com: your name, organization, email address, and which webinar you would like to register for. A confirmation and instructions for participation will be sent to you via email. Of course, you must be a Partner. Any employee within a Partner organization may participate in a webinar.