ALTHOUGH there are no specific guidelines set by the Hong Kong Government, AST follows the standards demanded by the international marketplace. This includes the United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) energy star programme. ''When we say green PC we are normally talking about meeting the energy star requirements,'' said product specialist George Lam. Energy star specifies that when a PC or monitor is inactive, it should conserve electricity by slowing power down to less than 30 watts. In general, AST incorporates three basic options with its systems. First is hard disk timeout. This allows the user to set a delay of between zero and 16 minutes, after which the hard drive will slow down. The drive will continue to run at this reduced rate until the system needs to read the disk again. The next option, system timeout, can be delayed by as long as 240 minutes, after which the entire system will power down. And monitor energy saver enables the system to reduce the power consumption of the monitor. However, to make use of monitor energy saver, the user must already have a monitor which supports the display power management system (DPMS). All of these options come with AST's new Bravo LC desktop. The Bravo also provides ample opportunity for users to upgrade the system at a later date. Upgradeability obviously prevents a great deal of waste; why throw away an old system if a simple board change can turn last year's model into today's state-of-the-art? Mr Leung said: ''Green PC does not just mean the PC itself. ''There is also the manufacturing process to take into account.'' Chemical waste can sometimes take many years to disappear, often causing widespread environmental damage in the process. The reason is that, the more complex the chemical, the harder micro-organisms have to work to break it down. ''In our manufacturing plant, in some of the processes, we use water-based solvents,'' said Mr Leung. ''They are degradeable so, once we have finished using them. they do not have to stay in the environment. They decompose into less harmful products.'' Water can also be filtered at the factory and reused. He said AST was incorporating environmental sensitivity into all aspects of its operations. This includes recycling office and factory waste and using recyclable materials wherever practical.