The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) is working on new Energy Star®  product specifications for lamps and luminaires. The new luminaires specification will take effect in early 2012, while the lamps specification is still under development, and will take effect later next year.
Alex Baker, EPA’s Lighting Program Manager for Energy Star®, says the new specifications will replace existing requirements in those categories.
“We’ve currently got four specifications that are being whittled down to two,” Baker says. “Instead of our Solid State Lighting Luminaires and Residential Light Fixtures specifications, we’ll now have just one technology neutral specification called Energy Star® Luminaires. And the same thing is happening on the lamp side – we currently have a CFL specification and an Integral LED specification, but we’re working on combining them into a technology neutral Energy Star® Lamps specification.”
Drafts of the new luminaire specification were released in May and October of last year. Version 1.0 of the Energy Star® Luminaires specification was finalized in February, but was subsequently revised to version 1.1 in July to reflect a few minor changes. The new specification was originally scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2011, but was pushed back to April 1, 2012, after the American Lighting Association  (ALA) voiced its concerns that manufacturers wouldn’t have enough time to get products tested for recertification.
EPA-recognized testing facilities were asked to stop certifying new products under the old luminaire specifications (Residential Light Fixtures V4.2 and Solid State Lighting Luminaires V1.3) on Sept. 15. All products manufactured on or after April 1, 2012, must be certified under the new Luminaires V1.1 specification in order to use the Energy Star® label.
Some have also expressed concerns that the testing process for getting products re-certified may be cost-prohibitive for manufacturers, but Baker says, in the end, it all comes down to the consumer's experience.
“The EPA is certainly sensitive to the cost of Energy Star® testing, but the agency is also concerned that when consumers buy an Energy Star® product, they get an energy efficient product without compromise,” Baker says. “Lighting is an area where it’s relatively easy to make an energy efficient product, but it can be hard to do it in a way that satisfies consumer needs. If it flickers or makes noise or the color is bad or it loses light output quickly, these are things that would cause consumers to reject the product.”
On the lamp side, Baker says a draft of the new lamp specification will be released shortly, and will be followed by a six-week comment period. Then, a second draft incorporating changes from those comments will be released, followed by another comment period. If no further changes are needed, a final draft will be released, and after a final comment period, the specification will be finalized. Baker says he expects the specification to be finalized in early 2012. Once the new lamp specification is released, it will replace existing specifications for Compact Fluorescent Lamps V4.2 and Integral LED Lamps V1.4.