EPA, DOE announce new steps to strengthen Energy Star
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have outlined a series of steps to further strengthen the Energy Star environmental labeling program. In addition to third-party testing already under way, EPA and DOE have launched a new two-step process to expand testing of Energy Star-qualified products. The DOE has begun testing of household appliances, and both agencies are now developing a system to test all products that earn the Energy Star label. The expanded system will require all products to be tested in approved labs and will require manufacturers to participate in an ongoing verification testing program to ensure continued compliance.
“Consumers have long trusted the Energy Star brand for products that will save them energy and save them money,” says Cathy Zoi, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The steps we’re taking now will further strengthen and improve the program.”
EPA and DOE are taking aggressive action to promote confidence in the Energy Star brand through enforcement as well as testing. EPA and DOE have taken enforcement action against 35 manufacturers in the past several months.
In early 2009, President Obama ordered DOE to clear the logjam and issue long-delayed appliance efficiency standards. The department subsequently met each deadline and issued six standards in 2009. Last October, DOE announced the formation of an enforcement team within the Office of the General Counsel, which is leading the department’s efforts to monitor compliance with Energy Star criteria and to enforce minimum appliance standards. Efforts include a program to randomly review manufacturers’ compliance with DOE certification requirements and to pursue aggressively any violations.
In December, DOE announced it would aggressively enforce requirements that manufacturers submit reports to the department certifying the energy use of residential appliance models and compliance with energy efficiency standards. DOE offered manufacturers a 30-day window to submit complete and accurate reports to the department.
The Energy Star program already has a comprehensive system in place to ensure confidence that products carrying the Energy Star label actually save energy and money. Specifically:
- To receive an Energy Star label, manufacturers must submit data to the federal government showing that their product meets a set of clear, measurable energy-efficiency program requirements.
- DOE and EPA conduct “off-the-shelf” and third-party testing of a wide range of products bearing the Energy Star label.
Also, market-driven competition provides a valuable insurance policy on the Energy Star brand. Manufacturers know that the Energy Star label is attractive to consumers and often test a competing product to ensure it complies with the requirements. Suspected violations can be reported to the EPA or DOE for follow-up.
When a violation is found, the right to use the Energy Star label is revoked, corrective measures are required and the Energy Star partnership may be terminated. Although violations of the Energy Star label tend to get big media attention, the actual number of violations has been quite small, especially given that more than 40,000 individual products carry the Energy Star label.
In 2009, EPA’s independent Inspector General conducted a “spot check” of the program, testing 60 Energy Star products. Fifty-nine of the 60 products met or exceeded the Energy Star requirements. One product, a specific model of printer, failed only one of three tests (not entering “sleep mode” fast enough).
Find more information on Energy Star at www.energystar.gov.