The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) is working on a new Energy Star®  product specification for luminaires, and will soon release the final draft of the proposal. The proposed specification would replace the existing specifications for residential light fixtures and solid state lighting, and is slated to go into effect in September 2011.
Alex Baker, Lighting Program Manager for Energy Star at the EPA, says the new specification should help streamline the program.
“The residential light fixture specification was started in 1997, and later on, the Department of Energy released a specification for SSL fixtures, and there was some confusion in the marketplace as far as which specification manufacturers should refer to,” Baker says. “Since they do not have the same performance requirements, the way the products were being compared was not exactly the same, so we felt it was important to bring these together into one technology-neutral specification.”
The first draft of the specification was released in May, and the second draft was posted at the beginning of October. Comments on the second draft were due at the end of last month, and the final draft will be released later this month. After a final comment period, the specification will be finalized in late November. The EPA requires a minimum of 270 days after a specification is finalized before it can go into effect, so as of right now, the specification should take effect on Sept. 1, 2011.
Once the new specification takes effect, only products that meet the new specification will get the Energy Star label. Products that have already earned the designation will not be grandfathered in, Baker says.
“We are raising the bar as far as performance, and the lumen efficacy requirements have been raised, so manufacturers will have to use higher-performing components in order to earn the Energy Star label,” Baker says.
The new specifications are not meant to favor one technology over the other, according to Kate Buck of ICF Intl., a contractor working in support of the EPA’s Energy Star program. Buck says the new specifications will not make it more difficult for non-LED products, because the specifications are not based solely on energy efficiency, but also color and efficacy.
“[The new specifications] won’t make it more difficult on either side, because there are so many parameters that are being tested and each technology has its pros and cons,” Buck says. “It is raising the bar from current residential lighting standards, which the EPA does continually with any category, just to make sure it’s still about the top performers.”
To read more about the proposal and submit comments, visit the Energy Star website .