Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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7.5.4 Mandatory Standards

Within Countries
For many years, governments have been responsible for setting standards for new buildings to protect the health and safety of their occupants. After the 1973 oil embargo created a growing public awareness of the cost and security risks of wasting energy and rising energy imports, many countries expanded these regulatory programmes to ensure that new and renovated buildings were designed to avoid squandering energy. Without standards, architects and builders are under pressure to minimise investments in efficiency to hold down the initial cost of the buildings, even when the additional investments would be repaid rapidly through lower energy costs. These standards now have the additional advantage of reducing GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Building energy codes have become widespread. A survey of 57 countries found 31 of them with codes for both residential and non-residential buildings, nine countries with codes for non-residential buildings only, four countries with codes for residential buildings only, and 13 countries without any building codes (Janda and Busch, 1994). Many countries modelled their building codes on those in other countries. The most often cited codes were those of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); 11 countries used the ASHRAE standards.

The rate of compliance with energy codes varies widely among countries (Duffy, 1996). While most codes are adopted nationally, local agencies often are responsible for their enforcement. Buildings differ in size, function, and location. An effective enforcement system requires trained local inspectors, who periodically visit the construction sites of complex buildings. Studies in the United States report rates of non-compliance of 50 per cent or more. By contrast, in Singapore compliance with the Energy Code is reported to be very high (Alliance to Save Energy, 1997). After building standards laws are approved, it is necessary to have strong implementation, training, and enforcement programmes to realise their potential benefits.

Some governments have also moved lately to mandate appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards. A recent international survey found that at least nine countries have energy efficiency standards for household appliances (Duffy, 1996). The United States and Canada cover the most appliances, followed by Switzerland and China. The programmes cover 18 different household appliances, the most common being refrigerators, air conditioners, clothes washers and clothes dryers. The standards are mandatory in all nine countries, except Japan and Switzerland. Japan's standards are voluntary, but largely met. Switzerland's standards are target values; however, the Swiss legislation indicates that if the target values are not met the government intends to mandate standards.

The survey found that at least six countries have standards for commercial and industrial equipment. The United States and Canadian programmes cover the most types of commercial equipment, including fluorescent lamps and ballasts, incandescent lamps, electric motors, and commercial air conditioning/heat pumps, furnaces/boilers, water heaters and water chillers. Japan and Korea cover lamps. China covers electric motors and furnaces/boilers. Malaysia covers electric motors. In the United States and Canada, the standards cover an estimated 70 per cent of the energy used in commercial buildings.

Box 7.1 Appliance Success Story

Appliance standards were first initiated in the United States in California in 1974, a year after the 1973 oil embargo. During the 1970s, California extended standards to cover 15 products. Other States also initiated their own standard programmes. Meanwhile, little was happening at the national level. A 1978 law created a U.S. appliance standards programme, but opposition delayed its implementation. The impasse was broken in 1986 with the passage of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, which established minimum U.S. efficiency requirements for 12 types of residential appliances. The Act was approved due to a remarkable--and instructive--collaboration between energy and environmental NGOs and appliance manufacturers. NGOs had long championed standards. Manufacturers came to recognise that uniform national standards were preferable to the growing number of different State standards.

This political process contains lessons for other national and international standard initiatives. The command and control strategy was used, but its impact was moderated to recognise industry's interests. In setting standards, the U.S. Department of Energy is required by law to consider their economic consequences, including any adverse impacts on manufacturers. The standards cannot be changed more frequently than every five years and manufacturers are given at least three years to meet any new standard levels. While this schedule makes the standards more acceptable to industry, it also delays the resulting energy savings and reduced GHG emissions.

The U.S. standards programme continued to be politically controversial, but was expanded by the 1992 Energy Policy Act. The results are significant. The average refrigerator sold in 1994 used about 653 kWh per year, down from about 1725 kWh per year in 1972. In 2001, the next iterations of the standards will lower this average to 475 kWh per year. The standards already adopted are expected to save 1.3 EJ* of primary energy in 2000, rising to 3.4 EJ in 2015 (Geller, 1997). An analysis shows that for every US$1 increase in the price of products due to the standards, consumers save an average of $3.20 during the life of the product (Goldstein, 1996).

*1 EJ (Exa Joule) = 1018 joules

Among Countries
The same factors that led to national energy standards are creating pressure for international standards, i.e. the public interest in increased efficiency and decreased emissions of pollutants, the market failure when low initial cost dominates the selection of products with long lifetimes, and the benefits of harmonised standards throughout the growing international market. The standards programmes in developed countries cannot be simply extended to other countries. The standards need to be modified to reflect the energy uses and preferences of a country. New infrastructure investments may be needed, including new laboratory testing and certification facilities. Domestic industries may need support to upgrade their products to meet the international standards. However, the potential benefits are large. A harmonised international approach to standards would widen the market for energy-saving products, lower the cost of such products, increase their market penetration, and encourage manufacturers to produce only the more efficient units (CADDET, 1997).

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