International Review of the Development and Implementation of Energy Efficiency Standards and Labeling Programs

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Appliance energy efficiency standards and labeling (S&L) programs have been important policy tools for regulating the efficiency of energy-using products for over 40 years and continue to expand in terms of geographic and product coverage. The most common S&L programs include mandatory minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) that seek to push the market for efficient products, and energy information and endorsement labels that seek to pull the market. This study seeks to review and compare some of the earliest and most well-developed S&L programs in three countries and one region:the U.S. MEPS and ENERGY STAR, Australia MEPS and Energy Label, European Union MEPS and Ecodesign requirements and Energy Label and Japanese Top Runner programs. For each program, key elements of S&L programs are evaluated and comparative analyses across the programs undertaken to identify best practice examples of individual elements as well as cross-cutting factors for success and lessons learned in international S&L program development and implementation.

The international review and comparative analysis identified several overarching themes and highlighted some common factors behind successful program elements. First, standard-setting and programmatic implementation can benefit significantly from a legal framework that stipulates a specific timeline or schedule for standard-setting and revision, product coverage and legal sanctions for non-compliance. Second, the different MEPS programs revealed similarities in targeting efficiency gains that are technically feasible and economically justified as the principle for choosing a standard level, in many cases at a level that no product on the current market could reach. Third, detailed survey data such as the U.S. Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and rigorous analyses provide a strong foundation for standard-setting while incorporating the participation of different groups of stakeholders further strengthen the process. Fourth, sufficient program resources for program implementation and evaluation are critical to the effectiveness of standards and labeling programs and cost-sharing between national and local governments can help ensure adequate resources and uniform implementation. Lastly,check-testing and punitive measures are important forms of enforcement while the cancellation of registration or product sales-based fines have also proven effective in reducing non-compliance.

The international comparative analysis also revealed the differing degree to which the level of government decentralization has influenced S&L programs and while no single country has best practices in all elements of standards and labeling development and implementation, national examples of best practices for specific elements do exist. For example, the U.S. has exemplified the use of rigorous analyses for standard-setting and robust data source with the RECS database while Japan's Top Runner standard-setting principle has motivated manufacturers to exceed targets. In terms of standards implementation and enforcement, Australia has demonstrated success with enforcement given its long history of check-testing and enforcement initiatives while mandatory information-sharing between EU jurisdictions on compliance results is another important enforcement mechanism. These examples show that it is important to evaluate not only the drivers of different paths of standards and labeling development, but also the country-specific context for best practice examples in order to understand how and why certain elements of specific S&L programs have been effective.

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