The Coming Wave of Energy Efficiency Regulations

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Obama is going to shake things up. When it comes to the environment, he has made it clear he will be focusing on the low lying fruit first – energy efficiency. Last week, he announced the appointment of Steven Chu, a nobel winning physicist and crusader of energy efficiency. This sets the tone for the next 4 years.

Canadian manufacturing, which exports 66% of its goods to the US, is irrevocably tied to American regulation. As was seen last year with the REACH legislation for chemicals in electronic products in the EU zone, regulations outside your jurisdiction can have a major impact on your business. By  being proactive, you can stay ahead of your competitors and avoid expensive re-design’s down the road.

We expect a tidal wave of stricter energy efficiency regulations to emerge from the new government. There will be resistance, but these changes are inevitable. In the article linked to above, they describe the challenge to make refrigerators more energy efficient.

California set about establishing the country’s first refrigerator-efficiency standards. Refrigerator manufacturers, of course, fought them. The standards couldn’t be met, they said, at anything like a price consumers could afford… Since then, the size of the average American refrigerator has increased by more than ten per cent, while the price, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has been cut in half. Meanwhile, energy use has dropped by two-thirds.

Our suspicion is that this pattern will repeat itself. The stricter California regulations for greenhouse gases, gasoline, and other pollutants will likely be adopted nation-wide and further regulations will emerge from those frameworks. Canada will in all likelihood, follow suit. No one knows for sure, but energy waste is probably Chu’s #1 target.

UPDATE: A video of Steven Chu talking about energy solutions