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Efficiency Standards: What’s Next?

Daikin McQuay RebelToday we’re looking in greater detail at the energy efficiency goals for appliances and federal buildings that President Obama set out in his climate plan this week. (Yesterday, we looked at policy proposals for HFCs, and before that, carbon standards for power plants.)

The plan pledges that all appliance and federal building standards set in the administration’s two terms will, taken as a whole, reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – equal to nearly half the yearly carbon emissions of the US energy sector, the White House says. Obama did not enumerate what further standards might be, or explain how close the country is to meeting that goal right now. But Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, says DOE analyses show Obama’s first-term standards saving about 1.9 billion mt by 2030, or about two-thirds of the way to his goal.

DeLaski says the DOE’s already-proposed standards – covering products such as electric motors, commercial rooftop air conditioners and commercial refrigeration equipment, as well as federal buildings – could save another 700 million mt. The rest, he says, could be met by resolving a backlog of overdue standards, meeting pending deadlines, and by pursuing new standards, for products such as industrial compressors.

There’s little doubt that delays have been a problem: efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings have all sat at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, waiting for approval and creating uncertainty. Businesses will want to see that any new standards proposed follow a clear path to adoption, to make compliance as easy as possible. And that gives Obama a deadline: since the standards adoption process takes about three years, deLaski says the White House must propose the new rules this year.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Picture credit: Daikin McQuay

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