22.214.171.124 Voluntary agreements
Voluntary agreements, in which the government and manufacturers agree to a mutually acceptable level of energy use per product, are being used in place of, or in conjunction with, mandatory MEPS to improve the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment. In the European context, this includes a wide range of industry actions such as industry covenants, negotiated agreements, long-term agreements, self-regulation, codes of conduct, benchmarking and monitoring schemes (Rezessy and Bertoldi, 2005). Voluntary measures can cover equipment, building design and operation and public, and private sector energy management policies and practices. Examples include Green Lights in the EU and the Energy Star programmes in the USA, as well as successful EU actions for the reduction of standby losses and efficiency improvement of washing machines and cold appliances. Industry often favours voluntary agreements to avoid the introduction of mandatory standards (Bertoldi, 1999). For the public authorities, voluntary agreements offer a faster approach than mandatory regulation and are often acceptable if they include the following three elements: (i) commitments by those manufacturers accounting for most of the equipment sold, (ii) quantified commitments to significant improvements in the energy efficiencies of the equipment over a reasonable time scale, and (iii) an effective monitoring scheme (Commission of the European Communities, 1999). Voluntary agreements are considered especially useful in conjunction with other instruments and if mandatory measures are available as a backup or to encourage industry to deliver the targeted savings, such as for the case of cold appliances in the EU (Commission of the European Communities, 1999; Jäger-Waldau, 2004).
6.8.3 Cross-cutting policies and programmes that support energy efficiency and/or CO2 mitigation in buildings
This section reviews a range of policies and programmes that do not focus specifically on either buildings and installed equipment, or on appliances and smaller plug-in devices in buildings, but may support energy efficiency and emissions reductions – including effects across other end-use sectors.