With recent reports of lax standards resulting in granting Energy Star labels to dubious products, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are accelerating steps to bolster verification, testing and enforcement of the program.
Federal investigators at the Government Accountability Office were able to obtain Energy Star approval for 15 of 20 fake products they submitted to the program.
One of the fake products was a gas-powered alarm clock.
In response, EPA and DOE are, effective immediately, requiring manufacturers to submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval by EPA prior to labeling.
Previously, EPA relied on an automated approval process, but now they will be reviewed and approved individually.
“Consumers trust the Energy Star brand to save them money and reduce carbon pollution,” said Cathy Zoi, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The steps we are taking to strengthen the program will ensure that Energy Star continues to be the hallmark for energy efficiency in the years to come.”
A memo (PDF) to DOE chief Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called for a “rapid 180-degree shift” in how the program is administered.
In early April, the Energy Star certification process was temporarily shut down, and it is expected to be reopened soon.
The Energy Star Web site has been updated to reflect the new provisions.
Despite the recent shock to its reputation, a national survey finds that consumers are most likely to visit the Energy Star Web site in order to get more information about “green” products or manufacturers.