Powering an Efficient High-Tech Industry
As today's digital age progresses, manufacturers are preparing for the future of the industry by ensuring that computers, audio-video equipment, handheld devices and other new information and communications technologies are both interconnected and interchangeable. Products originally designed for business have made it into the home, and electronic equipment long used almost exclusively by adults is being mastered and embraced by children. With this shifting consumer demand, manufacturers must innovate to bring new, safe technologies to market.
Within attendees' first steps onto the 1.5 million square foot tradeshow floor at CES, it was apparent that the subjects top-of-mind among manufacturers included energy efficiency and power.
As a global leader in safety, with expertise in the environment and interoperability, UL brought their knowledge and thought leadership to CES, hosting technical sessions on various subjects surrounding the topics of energy efficiency and power, including "Mobility and Security," "The Green Marketplace" and "Innovative Safety Engineering." Throughout these sessions, UL experts contributed to the ongoing discussions at CES, sharing their perspective related to the high-tech industry.
Energy Efficiency is Here to Stay
In addition to UL's technical sessions, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) featured a technical summit on the first day of CES titled, "ENERGY STAR® and Consumer Electronics: What Does the Future Hold?" This forum discussed recent changes to the ENERGY STAR program that were implemented January 1, 2011, requiring that all manufacturers have their energy performance evaluated by a third-party certification body (CB) prior to product labeling. UL, which recently announced its recognition as an accredited CB for the ENERGY STAR program, is committed to strengthening the ENERGY STAR program's reputation for safety and energy performance, helping to improve the integrity of claims, reduce greenwashing and give consumers confidence in the validity of energy efficiency labels.
Overall, it was clear to attendees that we are in a gadget-centric world where energy efficiency is here to stay, and that the responsibility falls on manufacturers to ensure that their products entering the marketplace are energy efficient to meet consumer demand. In fact, according to a recent EPA annual report, the voluntary ENERGY STAR program for consumer electronics has helped Americans save 26.9 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. According to the EPA, the ENERGY STAR program is working to develop performance-based requirements that will ensure that only the most efficient products make their way into the marketplace.
Today, EPA regulates nine different Consumer Electronics categories. They include:
- Battery Chargers
- Cordless Phones
- External Power Adapters
- Imaging Equipment
- Set-top Boxes & Cable Boxes
The energy efficiency cycle does not end with existing requirements and developing new ones. ENERGY STAR specifications are periodically updated to ensure they are relevant under current market conditions. The EPA is preparing to implement new specifications for related product categories by 2012. When those specifications are validated, only products that have been qualified through a certification body, such as UL, to the new specifications will be allowed to bear the ENERGY STAR mark.
Keeping an eye on recent trends and product development in the coming year, UL expects to see more manufacturers leaning toward the addition of green certifications such as the ENERGY STAR label to their products. Already, UL customers, including leading brand owners of electronic products, have partnered with UL to receive UL's ENERGY STAR program services.
Additionally, as your trusted source to help guide manufacturers through the ENERGY STAR program, UL recently launched a two-part podcast outlining the necessary means to navigate the recent program enhancements, including tips on how UL can help.
UL's portfolio of environmental services currently includes:
- Energy Efficiency Certification
- Environmental Claims Validation
- Sustainable Product Certification
- Environmental Product Declarations
As of late January, UL Environment has issued 740 energy efficiency certificates for high-tech and consumer electronics products, including TVs, home theater systems, alarm clock, iPod docking stations, printers and much more.
As discussed in UL's post-CES observational study, several subjects within the topic of power were prevalent among discussions at CES, including:
- Power of Mobility
- Power of Information
- Power Sources
- Power of Interoperability
- Power of Sound and Images
- Power of Embedded Technology
For more information on energy efficiency and power within the high-tech industry, visit www.ul.com/hitech, http://www.ulenvironment.com/ulenvironment/eng/pages/offerings/services/energystar/ or contact Tom Juliano, Innovation Business Development Manager.