DOE Issues New Rules for Efficient Appliances and Federal Buildings

December 13, 2006

DOE issued the final rule on Decemer 8th for new test procedures and definitions to determine the energy efficiency of residential appliances and commercial equipment. The rule establishes test procedures and definitions for a variety of items as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), many of which are related to lighting, including: ceiling fans and ceiling fan light kits; torchieres; medium-base compact fluorescent lamps; fluorescent lamp ballasts; mercury vapor lamp ballasts; illuminated exit signs; and traffic signal modules and pedestrian modules. Other products covered by the rulemaking are low-voltage dry-type distribution transformers, unit heaters, dehumidifiers, and a variety of commercial equipment, including pre-rinse spray valves; packaged air conditioning and heating equipment; refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers; automatic ice makers; and clothes washers. The rule will take effect on January 8th. See the DOE press release, DOE's Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Program Web site, and the full text of the final rule from the December 8th edition of the Federal Register.

DOE is also setting updated efficiency standards for new federal buildings. DOE published an interim final rule on December 4th that complies with new requirements set by EPAct. The interim final rule sets the minimum efficiency standard for new federal residential buildings equal to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code, and the minimum standard for new commercial and multi-family high-rise federal buildings equal to a 2004 standard set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The rule also requires new federal buildings to be designed to be 30 percent more energy efficient than these standards, if doing so is found to be cost effective over the life of the building. If a 30 percent efficiency improvement is not cost effective, designers must successively evaluate incrementally lesser goals, such as a 25 percent improvement, a 20 percent improvement, et cetera.

DOE is accepting comments on the interim final rule through February 2nd, 2007, with the goal of issuing a final rule after that date. However, the interim final rule will take effect on January 3rd, 2007, and any federal building design process that begins after that date must comply with the interim final rule. See the full text of the interim final rule from the December 4th edition of the Federal Register.