Last year the Department of Energy, which co-administers the Energy Star certification program with the EPA, admitted that it allows many companies to certify their goods themselves. That was somewhat worrying, but nothing like what happened earlier this year when government auditors successfully got ludicrously power-hungry designs approved for the Energy Star label. The EPA and Energy Department have responded by announcing a new, stricter certification process.
Does an EnergyStar label change your perception of a product? Maybe it shouldn’t. Last year, an audit showed that Energy Star gave its rating to products that misrepresented their energy usage. This time, auditors posed as companies and submitted completely absurd appliances for EnergyStar ratings, like a gasoline-powered alarm clock the size of a portable generator, and a space heater with a feather duster on top claiming to be an “air purifier.” Is the study meaningless because no actual products were sold, or a warning that the program is sloppy and susceptible to fraud?
Is Home Depot’s much-advertised PR darling “Eco Options” program an example of green washing or a genuine good? The NYT attempts to find out by interviewing Ron Javis, Home Depot’s senior vice president overseeing the Eco Options program.