The Department of Energy announced changes to the Energy Star program this week, following a damaging undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office, which successfully submitted a phony gasoline-powered alarm clock to the energy efficiency program.
“These changes accelerate steps DOE and EPA have initiated over the past several months to bolster the verification, testing and enforcement aspects of the ENERGY STAR® program,” the DOE said in a press release.
Effective immediately, manufacturers must submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval by the EPA before a product can be approved for the Energy Star label. Previously, the EPA had relied on an automated approval process. The GAO report exposed major flaws in that process after investigators successfully submitted a gasoline powered alarm clock for Energy Star approval.
By the end of the year, those test results will have to be from an “approved, accredited lab,” presumably independent from the manufacturer, although the press release does not use the word “independent,” potentially leaving wiggle room for manufacturers to be accredited to test their own products. Energy Star already requires some products, including windows, doors and compact fluorescent lightbulbs, to be tested in accredited labs.
Gregory H. Friedman, the Energy Department inspector general, who oversaw the recent audit, told the New York Times “if executed as described in the press release, it looks like this is a significant change to the process.”