Environmental Leader today reported that "Environmental Friendliness Not Driving PC Sales" (I'd quote the original study, but getting it to read costs more than a couple of PCs).
The conclusions are not surprising: consumers are looking for hard environmental savings, not marketing. In particular, they want to see energy efficiency that leads to real economic savings. But realistically, what else would they use as a criteria? Higher use of recycled cardboard in the packaging? How does a consumer put a value on that?
Unfortunately our whole industry is not yet consistently good at giving people the energy information they need to use the one environmental criteria they seem ready to use - possible savings in the monthly power bill. While Dell highlights some eco interesting looking advancements on the front page of dell.com, I still find it very hard to get any real energy data on specific PC models. Same thing for HP. (Note: in the server space Dell, HP, Sun, and probably others have much better real power data available for most models).
The lesson here for all of is simple, in my mind. We have to explain the concrete environmental and economic benefits in a way that is meaningful to consumers, and give them the hard facts so they assign their own valuation to those benefits. It might not feel "pure" that economics is the way that most people will do that valuation, but if they make better decisions for the environment, isn't that goodness?