Today's appliance and system designers must be the most "friendly" people on Earth! After all, they spend their lives designing products that are manufacturing-friendly, user-friendly, and now environmentally friendly. Manufacturing requires designs to be compatible with existing production equipment and methods. Customers desire feature-rich products with increased reliability and lower cost of ownership. And now, designers have to comply with a myriad of eco-design policies and criteria. Are there any engineering-friendly products available?
The European Union (EU) is comprised of twenty-seven member countries representing more than 500 million citizens and 33% percent of the world's gross domestic product. As the executive branch of the EU, the European Commission (EC) is responsible for proposing legislative acts or directives, regarding commerce, transit, and even energy efficiency. With the union's roots in technical innovation, the EC is well-recognized throughout the world for its development of progressive, energy-saving directives. Many countries, including China and the U.S., use the EC's directives as templates for their own energy policies.
Although these directives often appear as unnecessary obstacles during product design, they are the catalysts that promote the innovation of eco-friendly products that lead to a healthy environment and conserve natural resources. Throughout the world, governments strive to enact legislation that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease the need for building more power generation facilities, and ultimately keep electrical power affordable for consumers and industry. Mandating residential, commercial, and industrial equipment to perform at higher efficiencies is the most cost-effective and timely path to achieve these goals.
In an attempt to make consumers and businesses more cognizant of the importance of energy efficiency in common appliances, EC Directive 92/75/EEC was developed. This directive defines a standardized label format which includes efficiency data and anticipated annual energy usage. These labels openly disclose the necessary information to enable the consumer to make informed purchases considering both initial purchase price and estimated cost of ownership due to energy consumption.
The voluntary Energy Star program allows efficient appliances to carry the Energy Star logo. These products have been demonstrated to use between 10 and 66 percent less energy and/or water than standard models while maintaining the desired features and reliability. Energy Star appliances can save 20 to 30 percent in annual energy costs.