Lighting, Appliances, and Other Equipment

AuthorKit Kennedy
Page 217
I. Introduction
e Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP)
report emphasizes the major increase in building and
equipment eciency that will be needed to reduce U.S.
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% from
1990 levels by 2050.1 is chapter will discuss legal and
Author’s Note: e author’s views expressed in this chapter are her
own and not necessarily those of the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC). Ms. Kennedy would like to acknowledge
and thank the following for their excellent research and drafting
assistance in preparing this chapter: Pablo Rojas (NYU Law School,
class of 2018); Emily Hush (Columbia Law School, class of 2018);
Vartan Badalian (Lewis and Clark Law School, class of 2018); Ben
Civiletti (Vermont Law School, class of 2019); and Marlena Jewett
(Colgate University, class of 2020). Much appreciation and thanks
also to the following NRDC colleagues for their review of portions of
the chapter: Kaitlin Brazill; Pierre Delforge; Rachel Fakhry; Noah
Horowitz; and Jackie Wong. Andrew deLaski, executive director of
the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, also provided invaluable
comments as an external reviewer. All errors are the author’s own.
1. J H. W  ., P  D D  
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 1: T R xiv
(Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental
Economics, Inc., 2015), available at
technical-report.pdf [hereinafter DDPP T R]. A 2017 Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report, America’s Clean Energy Frontier:
policy pathways at the federal, state, and loca l levels to
ensure that the energy eciency of residential, commer-
cial, and industrial products, i ncluding lighting, consu mer
electronics, and computer servers, continues to improve at
the scale necessary to meet this “80% by 2050” goal.
e DDPP policy report observes that in a decarbon-
ized energy system, investment in clean technologies such
as high-eciency appliances and equipment will need to
increase sixfold in residentia l buildings and triple in com-
mercial buildings.2 e DDPP policy report also notes
that some of the fundamental paradigms behind energy-
eciency standards and other energy-e ciency pol icies
will need to adjust in order to help drive deep decarbon-
e Pathway to a Safer Climate Future (Vignesh Gowrishankar & Amanda
Levin), available at
frontier-pathway-safer-climate-future, nds even greater potential for energy
eciency. e NRDC report concludes that the United States can meet its
2050 climate goals based primarily on clean energy technologies, including
by implementing energy-eciency technologies and systemwide approaches
to reduce total U.S. energy demand by 40%.
2. J H. W  ., P  D D  
U S, U.S. 2050 R, V 2: P Itions of
D D   U S 24 (Deep Decarbonization
Pathways Project & Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc., 2015), avail-
able at
pdf. In residential buildings, investment in clean technologies will increase
from $35 billion annually today to $220 billion in 2050, and in commercial
buildings, the increase will be from $70 billion annually today to $210 billion
annually in 2050.
Chapter 9
Lighting, Appliances, and Other Equipment
by Kit Kennedy
e Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project reports call for major increases in building and equipment e-
ciency to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. While the U.S.
Department of Energy eciency standards program is one of the most successful U.S. energy-eciency poli-
cies in driving energy savings, carbon reductions, and consumer savings, it will need to be made even stronger,
and an integrated suite of additional and more ambitious energy-eciency laws and regulations at the federal,
state, and local level will be needed to meet the deep decarbonization challenge. Additional action from private
actors, such as utilities and businesses, will also be necessary to drive energy-eciency investments. is chapter
discusses the various legal and policy pathways at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that the energy
eciency of residential, commercial, and industrial products continues to improve at the scale and speed neces-
sary to meet this “80% by 2050” goal.
Page 218 Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States
ization. ese include such potential changes a s shifting
from a focus on reducing primary energy use to a focus on
reducing carbon emissions, and incentivizing fuel switch-
ing from fossil fuel-derived natura l gas to renewable gas
and electrication, as the elect ric grid is increasingly decar-
bonized. Building electrication, which is a key decarbon-
ization tool with signicant energy-eciency benets, is
discussed in Chapter 10 (New Buildings) and Chapter 11
(Existing Buildings).
Today, residential appliances, commercial appliances,
industrial equipment, and lighting products account for
a signicant percentage of U.S. energy use a nd carbon
emissions.3 e residential and commercial end-use sec-
tors accounted for 18.6% and 17.0%, respectively, of car-
bon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion
in 2 017.4 Both sectors rely chiey on electricity for meet-
ing energy demands, with 68% and 73%, respectively, of
their emissions attributable to electricity consumption for
lighting, heating, cooli ng, and operating appliances; the
remaining emissions were due mainly to natu ral gas and
petroleum c onsumption for heating a nd cooking.5 Carbon
emissions from the residential and commercial sectors have
decreased by 1% and increased by 10%, respectively, since
199 0. 6 is modest decrease i n carbon emissions from
the residential sector reect the combination of a strongly
declining energy intensity per household and an increa se in
the number of U.S. households and associated square foot-
age. Energy intensity per household has declined during
this period due in large part to increased energy eciency
of household products; structural shifts in the residential
sector also play a large part.7
In both the residential and commercial sectors, growth
in electricity consumption has slowed over the past 15
years and is expected to slow even further. Residential
electricity sales grew just 0.8% per year from 2000-2017,
according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration
(EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).8 In its
2018 reference case, EI A predicts that residential sales will
grow at an even lower rate, just 0.4% per year through
3. Residential appliances comprise products used in the home such as refrigera-
tors, air conditioners, clothes washers, and dishwashers. Commercial products
comprise products used in businesses such as commercial air conditioning
systems and walk-in coolers and freezers. Industrial products comprise
products used in manufacturing such as motors and air compressors.
4. U.S. Egy Info. A., Monthly Energy Review, Environment, https:// (last visited Aug. 2, 2018).
5. Id.
6. Id.
7. U.S. E I A, D  U.S. H
E C, 1980-2009 (2015), available at https://www.eia.
gov/analysis/studies/buildings/households/pdf/drivers_hhec.pdf. Note that
the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reference case includes
implementation of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which
establishes carbon pollution limits for power plants, and which the Trump
administration has now proposed to repeal.
8. U.S. E I. A, Electricity, Form EIA-861M (formerly EIA-826)
detailed data, (last
visited Aug. 2, 2018).
2050, noting that increases in residential eciency, par-
ticularly in lighting (as well a s increased deployment in
rooftop solar), will oset expected growth in the number
of U.S. households and increased elec tricity use for cool-
ing and ot her miscellaneou s uses.9 Commercial-sector
electricity sales also grew just 1.4% per year from 2000-
2017 and EIA predicts that the growth rate will decline to
0.5% annually through 2050 as energy-eciency improve-
ments in lighting and refrigeration, increased deployment
of on-site solar, and commercial combined heat and power
(CHP) systems partially oset electricity increases from
computers and m iscellaneou s uses.10 For the industrial sec-
tor, electricity sales decreased by 0.6% per year from 2000 -
2017, but EIA predicts that industrial electricity sa les will
increase by 0.8% per year from 2018-2050 due to expected
increases in industria l activity.11
e challenge addressed in this chapter is to identify
legal pathways to improve the eciency of residential,
commercial, and industrial appliances and equipment at
much faster rates than EI A assumes in order to achieve the
U.S. decarbonization goals set fort h in the DDPP.
e primary focus of this chapter is on mandatory
energy-eciency standards at the federal and state levels.
e DOE energy-eciency standards progra m, described
in Part II, is one of the most successful U.S. energy-e-
ciency policies in driving energy savings, carbon reduc-
tions, and consumer savings. Furt her strengthening federal
and state energy-eciency standa rds will play a critical role
in driving the needed eciency investments. Appliance,
product, and equipment eciency standards (often simply
referred to as “appliance standards” or “energy-eciency
standards”) require that specic products achieve a mini-
mum level of energy or water eciency. At the national
level, these standards are set either by the U.S. Congress
or DOE and are then periodically reviewed and updated
by DOE. e federal energy-eciency standards program
covers consumer, commercial, and industrial products, as
well as lighting in a ll three categories.12 Under federal law,
federal eciency standards generally preempt state stan-
9. U.S E I. A., A E O 2018 (Feb. 6, 2018),; see also U.S. E
I. A., Today In Energy. U.S. Energy Demand Slows Except for Indus-
trial, Commercial Sectors (Apr. 29, 2015),
10. U.S. E I. A., A E O 2018, supra note
11. Id.
12. Consumer products covered under the Energy Policy and Conservation
Act (EPCA) can be found at 42 U.S.C. §6295. e statute denes a “con-
sumer product” as a product that “in operation consumes, or is designed to
consume, energy or ... water; and ... which, to any signicant extent, is
distributed in commerce for personal use or consumption by individuals.” Id.
§6291(l). Commercial and industrial products covered by EPCA are found
at EPCA §§342 and 346 and 10 C.F.R. pt. 431. “Industrial equipment
includes products that (1)in operation consume, or are designed to consume
energy; (2)are distributed in commerce for industrial or commercial use to
any signicant extent; and (3)are not covered under the consumer product
program. 42 U.S.C. §6311(2)(A)(i).
Lighting, Appliances, and Other Equipment Page 219
dards for federally regu lated products, with some signi-
cant exceptions, as discussed in Part II.F. But a number
of states currently maintain active programs mandating
minimum eciency levels for products not covered by
the federal program and these programs have also proven
successful. Establishing enforceable, minimum energy-
eciency standards for appliances and products helps to
overcome market barriers to energy eciency, including
consumer lack of information and “split incentives” such
as the diering economic incentives with re spect to energy
eciency for landlords, who tend to purchase appl iances
for their tenants and may prefer to buy the cheapest mod-
els, and renters, who typically pay t he energy bills and may
favor the most energy-ecient models.13
Importantly, policies requiring mandatory minimum
energy-eciency standards are most eective if they are
integrated with other legal approaches that help to incen-
tivize the development and accelerate the penetration of
increasingly ecient products. As a result, th is chapter also
discusses lega l pathways that encourage energy e ciency
in ways that complement energy-eciency standards,
including labeling programs such a s the federal ENERGY
STAR® program, which helps consumers identify products
that are more ecient than federal minimum standards;
nancial incentives such as t ax credits, which reward con-
sumers for purchasing more-ecient products and manu-
facturers for producing them; state utility energy-ecienc y
programs, which accelerate the uptake of ecient prod-
ucts by making it ea sier for utility customers to make their
homes and businesses more ecient; and voluntar y indus-
try approaches to incent industry and businesses to make
their operations and products more ecient for business
reasons. When well-integrated and synch ronized, this suite
of legal pathways, combined with mandatory energ y-e-
ciency standards, creates a virtuous cycle where the energy
eciency of appliances and products is ever improving, as
today’s voluntary premium energy-ecient products lead
to tomorrow’s mand atory st andards.
For greater context—and because these policies also
drive energy eciency in appliances a nd products, this
chapter also touches on legal pathways that limit carbon
pollution, establish overarching energy-eciency goals,
and reform the way that utilities are reg ulated. Carbon pric-
ing policies encourage energy eciency by putting a price
on carbon and requiring power plant owners to internaliz e
the pollution and public health impacts of fossil fuel gen-
eration. Some carbon policies also create revenue streams
for energy eciency. Overarching energy-eciency goals
require all segments of the economy to become more e-
13. J D, A   T M: A 
T  S 198-99 (Envtl. L. Inst. 2012).
cient and reforming utility regulation helps to align utility
business i nterests w ith energ y eciency.
In sum, to meet the scale of the deep decarbonization
challenge, an integrated su ite of additional and more ambi-
tious energy-eciency laws and regu lations will be needed
at the federal, state, and local levels to drive the necessary
energy-eciency investments, and additional action will
be needed from private actors such as utilities and busi-
nesses. Given the threatened rollbacks of climate a nd clean
energy laws, regulations, a nd standards under the current
presidential administration and Congress, greater and
more ambitious eort will be needed at the state, local,
and private levels to continue to make progress until the
federal government is ready to lead again.
e following is a road map to the areas covered by
this chapter:
Part II describes the regulatory framework for the fed-
eral energy-eciency standards program, which has been
one of the most successful drivers of eciency in residen-
tial appliances, commercial and industrial equipment,
and lighting. Part II summarizes the histor y of the federal
energy-eciency standards program; describes the DOE
energy-eciency standards rulemaking process; describes
the carbon benets and other co-benets of federal energ y-
eciency standards, with a specic discussion of the
benets of ener gy-eciency st andards for low-income c on-
sumers; and explains when and how state energy-eciency
standards are preempted by federal law.
Part III describes the roles of the federal, state, a nd
local governments and industry in improving the energy
eciency of appliances and products, with a focus a gain
on energy-e ciency st andard s and complement ary pol i-
cies, together with a set of recommendations for all lev-
els of government and industry on legal pathways to
drive energy-eciency improvements forward. Part III.A .
addresses energy-eciency lega l pathways at the federal
level, including overarching federal ca rbon and energy-
eciency pathways and legislative and adm inistrative legal
pathways for strengthening the federa l energy-eciency
standards program, as well as policies to accelerate turn-
over and penetration of energy-ecient appliances. Part
III.B. discusses energy-eciency legal pathways for states,
including overarching state carbon and energy-eciency
pathways, legal pathways to encourage utilities to invest
in energy eciency, and legal pathways for establishing or
strengthening state energy-eciency standards programs.
Part III.C. describes the importa nt role of cities in improv-
ing energy eciency and lega l pathways for cities to follow.
Part III.D. briey discusses legal pathways for industries,
businesses, and utilities to embrace energy eciency.
Part IV delves into the specic legal pat hways needed to
drive energy eciency in lighting, consumer electronics,

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