Federal

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
 

Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Standards

Energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment reduce energy use in residential and commercial buildings and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, buildings, and the appliances and equipment used inside of them, accounted for 34 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (emitted either directly from the buildings or in the generation of the electricity used in the buildings).

Laws authorizing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to set appliance and equipment efficiency standards were first enacted in the 1980s and have since been expanded to new categories of equipment. DOE also is required to periodically strengthen existing standards. In setting a standard, DOE must take into consideration factors including increased cost of the product, lifetime operating cost savings, total projected energy savings, the need for national energy savings, impacts on product performance, and impacts on manufacturer competition. 

To learn more about how individuals can save energy and money on utility bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, check out C2ES's Make An Impact guides to buying and using appliances.

DOE recently set new energy efficiency standards for microwave ovens and distribution transformers:

  • Automatic commercial ice makers. Automatic commercial ice makers provide large volumes of ice used in soft drinks, ice water, and other beverages, and also to keep fresh fish, salad bars, and other products cold in locations such as hotels, restaurants and cafeterias, hospitals, schools, grocery and other retail stores, and office buildings. Strengthened standards for these lamps were issued in December 2014 and will go into effect in 2018. They are expected to save consumers save $600 million through 2030 and avoid the emissions of 4 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Commercial refrigeration equipment. Commercial refrigeration equipment is used for food storage and merchandising in the food retail industry (e.g., grocery stores, supermarkets convenience stores, specialty food stores) and the foodservice industry (e.g., restaurants and cafeterias). Standards for this type of equipment were first established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Strengthened standards were issued by DOE in a final rule on February 28, 2014. These standards are expected to save businesses between $4.9 billion and $11.7 billion by 2047 and avoid the emission of 142 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Conventional ovens. Conventional ovens are home cooking products that may be fuel by natural gas or electricity, standard or self-cleaning. The Energy Policy and Conservation and Policy Act of 1975 gives DOE the authority to set energy conservation standards for residential conventional ovens, and the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 set prescriptive standards for certain cooking products. The most recent standards were established in 2009. A pre-publication notice of proposed strengthened standards was issued by DOE on June 1, 2015. By 2048, emissions reductions from these proposed standards would 41 million metric tons of CO2 and 221 thousand tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The cumulative reduction of CO2 by 2030 would be 7.5 million metric tons. Strengthened standards are estimated to save consumers between $4.7 billion and $11 billion.

  • Electric motors. Electric motors convert electric energy into rotational energy and are often used for blowers, compressors, conveyors, fans, and pumps. There are three categories of electric motors, defined, among other ways, by their voltage, power, and rotation speed. Standards for this equipment were first established in the Energy Policy Act of 1992, but the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 significantly expanded the scope of covered motors. In May 2014, DOE issued a final rule for electric motors that would avoid emission of 395 million metric tons of CO2 by 2044. The rule went into effect in December 2015.
  • Furnace fans. Furnace fans circulate heated air through a home’s duct system. Standards for this equipment were first authorized in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. In June 2014, DOE announced the first ever energy efficiency standard for furnace fans. This standard will avoid the emission of 181 million metric tons of CO2 by 2048 and go into effect in 2019.
  • Distribution transformers. Distribution transformers transform the high-voltage electric current from power lines into lower-voltage electricity that can be used in homes and businesses. These transformers can be found in metal boxes on utility poles where power enters a neighborhood, at ground level on a metal slab, or underground. Standards for liquid-immersed and medium-voltage dry-type distribution transformers were first required under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, while standards for medium-voltage dry-type distribution transformers were set in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Strengthened standards for all types were issued by DOE in a final rule on April 18, 2013. These standards are expected to save from $3.4 billion to $12.9 billion and prevent the emission of 264.7 million metric tons of CO2.
  • External power supplies. External power supplies are the boxes on power cords that convert household electric current into direct current or lower-voltage alternating current in order to operate consumer products, such as computers or cell phones. Standards for this equipment were first established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Strengthened standards were issued by DOE in a final rule on February 10, 2014. These standards are expected to save consumers from $1.9 billion to $3.8 billion by 2044 and avoid the emission of 47 million metric tons of CO2.
  • General service fluorescent lamps and incandescent reflector lamps. These lamps are used for indoor lighting in homes, commercial establishments such as restaurants, and in industrial factories. Standards for these lamps are required under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. Strengthened standards for these lamps were issued in December 2014 and will go into effect in 2018. They are expected to save consumers $15 billion through 2030 and cut 90 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Hearth Products. Hearth products are used for heating and decoration in homes and businesses. Standards for this equipment were first authorized in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, although the first ever standards for hearth products, decorative products, gas logs, gas stoves, and outdoor hearth products were announced in January 2015. The proposed standards would require manufacturers to eliminate continuously burning pilot lights in favor of electronic ignition. They are expected to save consumers $3 billion from 2021 to 2051. The standards would prevent the emission of 11.1 million metric tons of CO2 from 2021 to 2030 and an additional 26 million metric tons of CO2 from 2030 to 2050. A final rule is expected in December 2015 with an effective date of 2020.
  • Metal halide lamp fixtures. Metal halide lamp fixtures provide lighting for parking lots and streets, flood lighting, athletic facilities, big-box stores, and warehouses. Standards for this equipment were first established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Strengthened standards were issued by DOE in a final rule on February 10, 2014. These standards are expected to save consumers from $950 million to $3.2 billion by 2046 and avoid the emission of 22.5 to 27.8 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Microwave ovens. Microwave ovens are consumer products that use microwaves to cook or heat food. Some microwave ovens also have thermal elements that allow them to cook food much like a conventional oven. Standards for this equipment were first authorized by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987. However, the first efficiency standards for microwaves for power consumption during operation, as well as standby mode, were released on June 17, 2013. These standards are expected to save consumers from $1.53 billion to $3.38 billion and prevent the emission of 38.11 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Walk-in coolers and freezers. The coolers and freezers covered by the new standards are used to store refrigerated or frozen food or other perishable goods, and are used primarily in the food service and food sales industry. Coolers and freezers covered by the regulations are enclosed storage spaces that can be walked into, have a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet, and do not include products designed and marketed exclusively for medical, scientific, or research purposes. The 2013 standards for walk-in coolers and freezers set a minimum R-value* for insulating panels, as well as requirements for doors, door closures, motors and lighting. Standards for this equipment were first established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In May 2014, DOE issued a final rule that would avoid the emission of 159 million metric tons of CO2 by 2046. The rule will go into effect in 2017. (*R-value is a measure of the amount of insulation provided. For example, insulation panels with a higher R-value will allow less heat to pass through them.)

DOE is currently considering establishing or strengthening energy efficiency standards for these categories of appliances and equipment:

  • Portable Air Conditioners. Portable air conditioners are units that cool air and can be moved from room to room. They are distinct from window box units or central air conditioning systems. DOE is soliciting public comments on a proposed rule to include portable air conditioners as a category of consumer appliances for which standards can be established.
  • Computers. Computers are devices that include (but is not necessarily limited to) desktop computers, integrated desktop computers, laptop/notebook/netbook computers, and workstations. DOE is soliciting public comments on a proposed rule to include computers as a category of consumer appliances for which standards can be established.
  • Computer servers. Computer servers provide services and manage networked resources for client devices such as desktop and laptop computers. These services and resources are accessed via a network connection. DOE is soliciting public comments on a proposed rule to include computer servers as a category of equipment for which standards can be established.
  • Ellipsoidal diameter, bulged reflector, and small diameter reflector lamps. Ellipsoidal diameter, bulged reflector, and small diameter reflector lamps are types of incandescent reflector lamps (IRLs). IRLs are directional lamps, such as spotlights and floodlights, which can be used in residential and commercial applications, such as recessed downlighting and track lighting. They have a reflective coating on the inside of the bulb to focus and aim the light. While most IRLs were subject to efficiency standards under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, these subcategories were excluded before enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and then delayed by a rider to the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

President Obama's Climate Action Plan

President Obama's Climate Action Plan outlines a wide array of actions his administration will take using existing authorities to reduce carbon pollution, increase energy efficiency, expand renewable and other low-carbon energy sources, and strengthen resilience to extreme weather and other climate impacts.  As part of the plan, annoujnced in June 2013, the president directed the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards by June 2015 to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.

C2ES President Eileen Claussen calls Obama's plan "a credible, comprehensive strategy to use the tools at his disposal to strengthen the U.S. response to climate change. His plan recognizes that the costs of climate change are real and rising, and that to minimize them we must both cut our carbon output and strengthen our climate resilience."

Here are links to:

C2ES Resources on Key Topics:

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan focuses on:

Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Congress has granted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate a wide range of pollutants through several laws, including the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Carbon pollution standards for new power plants proposed by EPA in March 2012  have not yet been finalized. On June 25, President Obama announced a Presidential Memorandum directing the  EPA “to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standardsfor both new and existing power plants.”

For more information, see:

Energy Efficiency

The president directed the Department of Energy to build on efficiency standards set during his first term for dishwashers, refrigerators, and other products. He set a goal of cumulatively reducting carbon dioxide emissions by 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through efficiency measures adopted in his first and second terms. The president also committed to build on heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standards set during his first term with new standards past the 2018 model year.

For more information, see:

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the fastest growing energy source. In 2012, renewable energy was responsible for 12.7 percent of net U.S. electricity generation with hydroelectric generation contributing 7.9 percent and wind generation 2.9 percent. In the president’s climate plan, he reiterates his support to make renewable energy production on federal lands a top priority.

 For more information, see:

Natural Gas

New drilling technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (sometimes called fracking) have vastly increased the amount of recoverable natural gas in the United States and elsewhere. These advances are projected to keep the price of this lower-carbon fuel near historically low levels, significantly altering energy economics and trends, and opening new opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To better leverage natural gas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the administration will develop an interagency methane strategy to further reduce emissions of this potent greenhouse gas.

For more information, see:

Leading by Example

In his first term, President Obama set a goal to reduce federal greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent by 2020. He also required agencies to enter into at least $2 billion in performance-based contracts by the end of 2013 to finance energy projects with no upfront costs. In his climate plan, the president established a new goal for the federal government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020—more than double its current goal of 7.5 percent.

For more information, see:

Climate Resilience

The president wants federal agencies to support local investments in climate resilience and convene a task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to help strengthen communities. President Obama also wants to use recovery strategies from Hurricane Sandy to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts and update flood-risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects.

For more information, see:

International Climate Change Leadership

The president promised to expand new and existing international initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries. He also called for an end to U.S. government support for public financing of new coal-fired powers plants overseas, except for the most efficient coal technology available in the world's poorest countries, or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

For more information, see:

Leading by Example 2.0: How Information and Communication Technologies Help Achieve Federal Sustainability Goals


 

 

 


 

 




Read the Report

 

Introduction

As the nation’s largest landlord, employer, fleet operator, and purchaser of goods and services, the federal government has the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to lead by example in moving our country in a more economically efficient and environmentally sustainable direction. Faced with tightening budgets, agencies are looking for new ways to reduce costs and increase productivity, while at the same time meeting a growing list of congressional and executive mandates to consume less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 

Jason Ye
Stephen Seidel
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Conservatives debate a carbon tax

The discussion of a carbon tax continues. Conservatives met recently in Washington, D.C., to debate the mertis of a carbon taxt at an event hosted by the R Street Institute and the Heartland Institute, featuring representatives with opposing viewpoints from four conservative think tanks.

A 2013 C2ES brief found that a carbon tax was one way to put a price on carbon emissions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and raise significant revenue for the federal government. A tax starting at about $16 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2014 and rising 4 percent over inflation per year would raise more than $1.1 trillion in the first 10 years, and more than $2.7 trillion over a 20-year period. This revenue could fund a wide range of things, including deficit reduction, a reduction in statutory corporate income tax rates from 35 percent to 28 percent (often cited as a goal by both conservatives and liberals), and research and development into low-emitting technology.  Importantly, such a carbon tax could also reduce CO2 emissions by 9.3 billion tons over 20 years.

Get outside the beltway to change the climate debate

The National Journal Energy Experts blog asked this week whether we need to rethink the global warming debate, given the gridlock in Congress. My response is, by all means, we need to change the debate about climate change. But that starts well beyond the Beltway, where farmers, coastal residents, small-town mayors and others are feeling its impact – and are seeing the opportunities in a clean energy future.

Clean Energy Steps: Necessary but not sufficient for climate action

I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on whether small legislative measures will be effective in fighting climate change.

You can read responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response:

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Small steps now, or big solutions? Both.

I recently replied to a question on the National Journal blog on what's keeping Washington from making the type of progress on energy and climate policy that is being made on other issues.

You can read responses at the National Journal.

Here is my response:

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The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference: Building Sustainable Cities

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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Judi Greenwald speaks about enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide April 25 in New York City at The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference: Building Sustainable Cities.
Apr 25, 2013

Judi Greenwald speaks about enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide April 25 in New York City at The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference: Building Sustainable Cities.

 

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