Perhaps one of the most recognized programs in the U.S. and worldwide is the Energy Star program. This is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star unlike the other programs we have discussed in previous articles is a voluntary program.
Energy Star is perceived as the global leader in energy efficiency programs and is referenced in many global standards. In 2010 they reported that through the program “Americans saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, while saving nearly $18 billion on utility bills”. Not exactly pocket change and with that kind of saving it’s not surprising that the Energy Star program is so well recognized.
The program currently covers 14 Electronics and Office Equipment product types which include audio & video products, imaging equipment and enterprise servers for example with requirements for other product types currently in development. To qualify to use the Energy Star label, a product’s energy performance must be evaluated by a third-party EPA recognized Certification Body (CB). Compliant products are eligible to bear the Energy Star mark and are recorded in the EPA database.
UL currently has 12 labs eligible to support Energy Star evaluations and additionally we can extend our accreditation to our customer laboratories allowing testing to be performed at the manufacturer premises. Our customers using this route have found it more convenient and flexible especially when the product being evaluated is not easily transportable.
As part of the compliance program the EPA also requires an ongoing verification testing to ensure that products continue to provide a good level of energy efficiency and product performance during their life cycle. Usually the CB selects qualified products typically about 10% of the production for Electronics and Office Equipment product types, to verify ongoing performance. Recently however, there is a new proposal to reduce the number of models for verification testing. The EPA has plans to reduce verification testing on Electronics and Office Equipment product types to 5% in 2015, based on a 99% compliance rate on products evaluated since 2011. This is of course good news for manufacturers, as it reduces costs incurred for verification testing.