DOE Dodges Real Energy Efficiency

The DOE missed a critical opportunity to upgrade energy-efficiency requirements for commercial buildings.© Getty Images

Two leading environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Earthjustice, joined the state of Massachusetts last week in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The suit charged the DOE with failing to update energy-efficiency criterion for commercial heating and cooling equipment when it released new standards this past March. The plaintiffs maintain that DOE wasted a prime opportunity to significantly reduce air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases by not requiring the incorporation of cleaner, greener technologies for commercial heating and cooling applications.

"The energy savings that could be had through better standards for these products are substantial, enough to eliminate the need for several major new power plants," says Earthjustice’s Tim Ballo.

The groups contend that the DOE standards, which apply to new air conditioners, heat pumps and related products commonly used in offices, schools and other commercial facilities, are significantly weaker than those recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a professional group considered an authority on energy efficiency.

"Strong efficiency performance standards are the antidote to America’s ailing energy system," says NRDC’s David Goldstein. "The DOE needs take its blinders off and step out of the way of America’s progress."

Sources: NRDC; Earth Justice