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CLASP's International Success

Impressed with the large-scale energy savings demonstrated in North American and European nations, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) joined with two other organizations in the late 1990s to germinate a collaboration that would assist developing nations in creating, implementing, and enforcing energy-efficiency standards and labels. Energy saved by efficiency standards not only benefits the environment but also frees up capital that developing countries can put to other uses as their economies grow.

How CLASP Came To Be

In spring 1996, Stephen Wiel, head of the Energy Analysis Department in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at Berkeley Lab convened a general meeting for those at the Lab interested in working with developing countries to formulate energy-efficiency performance standards. His interest was in sharing the best technology and policy experience from the U.S.'s most successful energy efficiency program—appliance standards and labeling—with the rest of the world. The initiative received internal start-up funding and then more funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

CLASP logo

In 1999, the Alliance to Save Energy (the Alliance), the International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC), and Berkeley Lab formed the Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) to promote energy-efficiency standards and labels (S&Ls) for appliances, equipment, and lighting products outside the U.S. CLASP received a significant grant from the UN Foundation (UNF) through the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). CLASP is now an international partnership of governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout the world.

Standards and Labels Save Energy

Worldwide, energy in buildings, including power used by appliances, equipment, and lighting, accounts for 34 percent of total energy consumption. Building energy use also accounts for about 25 to 30 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and 10 to 12 percent of the net contribution to climate change from all greenhouse gases. "In the developing world, the increase in power demand is straining the energy infrastructure, causing environmental damage and hindering economic growth," says Wiel, who is Chair of CLASP's Governing Board. "Demand for major appliances and equipment—ranging from refrigerators and clothes washers in homes to copiers and lighting equipment in office buildings—will continue its steady growth. Efficiency standards and labeling programs can help meet this rising energy demand."

There is an increasing understanding in the buildings community that it is necessary but not sufficient to specify technologies or design features that can effectively realize energy savings in buildings. Successful implementation of energy-saving features is often thwarted by the absence of explicit direction from the building's owner, misunderstandings or inconsistent visions among design team members, and ambiguously defined energy-performance targets. The lack of clarity created by these problems hampers the post-construction processes of commissioning and measurement and verification. Robust documentation of the design intent for a building's energy performance can result in a comprehensive and holistic design process that achieves its energy-savings goals. A new computer-based Design Intent Tool developed by Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) researchers addresses these needs by documenting key building design information in a centralized, accessible format, increasing the likelihood that a building will be constructed and perform as designed.

In the U.S., energy-efficiency standards for nine residential products show substantial benefits over product lifetimes. For the $2 spent so far by the federal government for each household in the U.S., the standards will, by 2020, have stimulated spending of $900 per household on additional energy-saving features and saved each household $2,400 in energy bills. The net savings to the U.S. economy by 2020 will be $1,500 per household, with a cumulative net dollar savings of $150 billion. Standards will reduce primary energy use by eight percent of 2020 residential energy use and carbon emissions by 27 million metric tons in 2020 (nine percent of total emissions).

"The challenge," says Wiel, "is that standards and labeling require decades in order for benefits to accrue, so they require a mid- to long-term perspective on energy policy. It's most effective to focus on new products—85 to 90 percent of energy used 20 years from now will be used by products that have not yet been manufactured."

Standards and labeling programs help consumers see that an energy-efficient appliance costs less money in the long run (see Table 1). Without energy labels, consumers are more likely to choose a cheaper model of an appliance, which is likely to have a higher long-term overall cost (energy plus purchase costs). When labels show products' average annual energy cost, consumers can see that the cost of an appliance plus the cost of energy to operate it is substantially lower for efficient products.

Table 1. S&L overcome market barriers. Model A is a pair of linear-tube T-12 fluorescent lamps with a conventional ballast in Mexico, and Model B is a pair of T-8 lamps and an electronic ballast.
How people choose without energy labels   An informed choice with an energy label
  Model A Model B   Model A Model B
Purchase price $81 $137 Purchase price $81 $137
      Energy cost $1,064 $561
      Total price $1,145 $698
Example of a CLASP information product: refrigerator product flow in Asia

Figure 1. Example of a CLASP information product: refrigerator product flow in Asia.

CLASP's work

CLASP's role as a major force in proliferating energy efficiency standards and labels worldwide entails forming partnerships with governments and NGOs to give technical assistance to individual countries and regions. CLASP associates provide market analysis and research for baseline studies as well as monitoring and evaluation of program impacts.

USAID funding for CLASP has expanded so that the organization is currently playing a key role in the agency's South Asia Regional Initiative (SARI) energy program. CLASP has also joined with the U.S. Department of Energy for the Efficient Energy and Sustainable Development (EESD) partnership, which is the energy-efficiency component of America's energy commitment to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In addition, CLASP helps Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) provide access to codes and standards information through a web-based information network called the Energy Standards Information System (ESIS).

Proposed energy labels evaluated with the assistance of CLASP.

Figure 2. Proposed energy labels evaluated with the assistance of CLASP.

Another CLASP project is assisting the United Nations Development Programme/Global Environmental Facility (UNDP/GEF) in developing a series of regional S&L initiatives to foster cooperation and harmonization among S&L programs in different regions. In addition, CLASP has provided significant technical assistance to Chinese government agencies developing energy-efficiency labels and standards for nine products, including refrigerators, room air conditioners, clothes washers, color televisions, central air conditioners, and motors.

In India, CLASP participates in the S&L process led by the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency. CLASP is also in the early stages of providing technical assistance to the Brazilian government.

The CLASP energy efficiency standards and labeling guidebook.

Figure 3. The CLASP energy efficiency standards and labeling guidebook.

Tools for Training and Analysis

CLASP develops training materials and technical tools that explain the common elements and strategies of successful standards and labeling programs worldwide and that also help calculate potential program benefits. A significant recent example is Energy-Efficiency Labels and Standards: A Guidebook for Appliances, Equipment and Lighting, which was designed for officials in developing countries. This guide has been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Spanish and distributed to more than 1,000 people in 60 countries. CLASP also hosts information exchange events, including regional standards and labeling training workshops in Latin America and in Asia.

"CLASP's near-term vision," says Wiel, "is to provide in-depth and tailored technical assistance and training to at least 15 priority countries while supporting up to 50 others through information dissemination, harmonization discussions, and training forums. Our long-term vision is a future where standard-setting and labeling are routine government functions around the world."

— Allan Chen

For more information, contact:

  • Stephen Wiel
  • (510) 486-5396; fax (510) 486-6996

Christine Egan, CLASP Executive Director

This work is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UN Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the World Bank/Global Environmental Facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, the State Department, the Australian Greenhouse Office, and others.

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