CES's 2010 Goal: Greener than Ever

CES's 2010 Goal: Greener than Ever

For at least the third year in a row, CES, the massive Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Las Vegas starting this Thursday, is highlighting its green side.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on CES, has expanded its "Sustainable Planet" wing of the event. With 5,500 square feet of exhibit space and 44 companies showing off their innovations, the green zone at CES is 40 percent larger than last year's area.

In fact, the CEA has gone so far as to call this year's CES "the world's largest environmentally friendly trade show," in part to the fact the association is purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset the CO2 emissions tied to the event. The CEA is also donating $50,000 to the Las Vegas Police Department to help the organization buy electric vehicles for its policing operations.

I would call carbon offsets and philanthropic donations baby-steps on the way to actually reducing an event's impact, but for an industry that by and large has not fully embraced green principles, these moves are not nothing.

CES includes a Technology and the Environment track of educational sessions this year as well. While the three events on the agenda -- two about electronics recycling and one about energy efficiency -- pale in comparison to the rest of the tracks, their presence on the calendar is a good sign of progress.
In all honesty, who goes to CES to learn anything, anyway? The show is all about the gadgets, and green gadgets will be well represented this year, to be sure.

Prominent among the green highlights at CES will be the Greener Gadgets Display, which showcases innovations from the annual Greener Gadgets Design Competition, also produced by the CEA.

The green companies presenting in the Sustainable Planet section of CES run the gamut. As with the whole idea of "Green IT 2.0," the companies showcasing their innovations in Las Vegas this week highlight just how far technology is seeping beyond gadgets into every aspect of our lives.

Energy efficiency figures large in CES this year, showcasing products like Embertec's power-saving plug-in (which will be unveiled on Thursday) or a range of energy-efficient computers and displays from tech giants. But there are also a number of smart-grid and green-building technologies, like Marvell's just-announced Plug Computer 3.0 (pictured at left) or the new home energy management tool from Direct Energy. There is also something called a "Personal Hydrogen Station" that Singaporean company Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies will unveil this week.

The ever-present solar gadget genre will be well represented at CES, with solar charger companies like MiniWiz, Solio and Solar Technology International all presenting at the event.

Even packaging companies are touting their green wares at CES; perhaps due to the accolades that companies like Hewlett Packard and Apple get for their minimalist packaging, MeadWestvaco and Univenture are two packaging firms that are showcasing how what a product ships in can be as impactful as the products themselves.

There will be lots more to come from CES; we'll have a roundup of what's good at green at the event once the doors open later this week.