I have previously written about informal complaints regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Star Program for appliances. Based on recent findings of a Government Accountability Office report, it seems much larger systemic problems exist within the Program:
"In a nine-month study, four fictitious companies invented by the accountability office also sought EnergyStar status for some conventional devices like dehumidifiers and heat pump models that existed only on paper. The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet those applications were mostly approved without a challenge or even questions, the report said."
One of the fictitious products submitted to and approved by the Energy Star Program was a "gasoline-powered alarm clock."
This report has me rethinking my ideas related to the green building industry. To me, there is one looming question: will similar problems arise with the Energy Star for Buildings program that certifies buildings as energy-efficient? The description of the program has me concerned:
"Did you know that a building or manufacturing plant can earn the ENERGY STAR label just like your refrigerator?"
But the Energy Star for Buildings program requires a verification process, unlike the Energy Star appliance program:
"Commercial buildings achieving a score of 75 or higher using Portfolio Manager and verified by a professional engineer are eligible to apply for the ENERGY STAR. To get started, enter the required data into Portfolio Manager. The tool will tell you if your building may qualify for the ENERGY STAR. If it does, your next step is to complete the verification process and submit your application."
Are you confident that the Energy Star for Buildings program will avoid similar problems? Related links:
Can Green Building Regulations Keep Up? (GBLU)
Audit Finds Vulnerability of EnergyStar Program (NY Times) The ENERGY STAR for Buildings & Manufacturing Plants (Energy Star)