At the beginning of the year, the U.S. EPA implemented a new ENERGY STAR® certification process, requiring manufacturers to have their products tested by third-party EPA-recognized labs. (In the past, companies were allowed to submit test results based on in-house testing.) The change was implemented after products were found to have received approval for using the logo, while not actually having met the program requirements. Now, only a few months after the new certification process has become effective, manufacturers are starting to complain.
An interesting article surfaced in Bloomberg News last week about how the new testing requirements are being met with resistance. The main gripe being that the process for having products tested is too costly and complicated.
The chart below is an excerpt from a larger chart on the ENERGY STAR website. The aqua-colored square on the right (titled “Laboratory”) shows the element that’s been added to the qualification process. The green square next to it lists additional steps that have been added as a result of the new requirement.
Source: ENERGY STAR. The entire chart can be downloaded from the ENERGY STAR website.
Besides the extra cost of using external test labs, the time and energy that the increased bureaucracy requires is being cited as a disincentive for having certain products certified. As a result, some manufacturers are evaluating whether to continue seeking the ENERGY STAR label for some of their products.
In addition to manufacturers, industry groups such as the Consumer Electronics Association, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and the Information Technology Industry Council have also raised concerns, as have some members of Congress.
It will be interesting to watch and see how this plays out. While third-party testing may indeed have some obstacles to overcome, it does have its merits as well. Namely, it ensures a level of accountability and objectivity necessary to give credibility to the ENERGY STAR label. As with all things controversial, there is more than one side to the story.
For more information, see the Third-Party Certification page on the ENERGY STAR website.