WASHINGTON - The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law just before the holidays on Dec. 19, imposes increased energy efficiency standards on a wide variety of products as well as introducing regional HVAC standards.

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the energy act sets new minimum efficiency standards for external power supplies, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, residential boilers, electric motors, and walk-in coolers and freezers. It directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct new rulemakings on residential refrigerators and clothes washers, and allows DOE to expedite rulemakings in cases where a broad consensus exists (a measure requested by DOE last year). It allows DOE to establish a regional standard for heating products and two regional standards for cooling products, in addition to the national standard. Such regional standards are said to allow DOE to account for significant climate differences throughout the United States. The act also calls for DOE to create a national media campaign to promote the benefits of increased energy efficiency.

For federal buildings, the energy act sets a goal to cut their energy use by 30 percent by 2015, and requires new and renovated federal buildings to significantly reduce their reliance on energy from fossil fuels. Compared with existing federal buildings, federal buildings built or renovated in 2010 must cut their fossil-fuel dependency by 55 percent, and by 2030, new or renovated federal buildings must eliminate their use of fossil fuel energy. It also permanently authorizes the use of Energy Saving Performance Contracts, updates the authorization for DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program, authorizes a Commercial Building Initiative, and contains new provisions to promote combined heat and power, recycled energy, and district energy systems.

The new energy act also calls for accelerated research and development (R&D) and deployment of renewable energy technologies, although all the provisions are subject to congressional appropriations of funds. For solar energy, the act calls for new R&D programs for solar thermal energy storage, daylighting, and solar-powered air conditioning, as well as grant programs for solar industry workforce training and advanced photovoltaic demonstration projects. For geothermal energy, the act calls for a wide range of R&D programs, an expansion of the “GeoPowering the West” program to make it “GeoPowering America,” and the creation of a new Center for Geothermal Technology Transfer. The act also establishes a new R&D program for marine and hydrokinetic energy, which includes wave, tidal, current, and thermal technologies that draw on the energy of the ocean or flee-flowing rivers. The act includes a measure to establish one or more demonstration centers for marine and hydrokinetic technologies.

Publication date:01/07/2008