Despite the recent announcement of beefed-up testing standards, the sour news just keeps on rollin’ in for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy’s beleaguered EnergyStar program. Here’s the latest:

As part of an audit designed to test the robustness of the EnergyStar’s vetting process, a group of creatively deceptive Congressional auditors from the Government Accountability Office (GOA) submitted 20 bogus products — including a gasoline-powered alarm clock and a space heater with a feather duster affixed to fly paper labeled as an air purifier (pictured at left) — to EnergyStar seeking validation. And amazingly, according to the GOA's report, all but two of the products got it, no questions asked.

So how in the world could a bunch of absurd fake appliances, the kind of things you wouldn’t even see in the back of a SkyMall catalog, slip through the cracks and be granted preliminary EnergyStar status? That’s the million-dollar question being asked right now as EnergyStar once again goes on the defense.

Reports the New York Times:

In a nine-month study, four fictitious companies invented by the accountability office also sought EnergyStar status for some conventional devices like dehumidifiers and heat pump models that existed only on paper. The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet those applications were mostly approved without a challenge or even questions, the report said.
It must be emphasized that the phony products like the gas-powered alarm clock never really made it that far — after all, they weren’t even real to begin with — but the fact that they made it anywhere is troubling evidence that EnergyStar is operating on “remote control” and is apparently a cinch to defraud.

Check out the entire NYT article discussing the damaging developments revealed by the GOA's EnergyStar sting and resulting report. Again, I wouldn’t let this stop you outright from purchasing EnergyStar-branded products but I certainly wouldn’t place blind faith in an 18-year-old program "vulnerable to fraud and abuse" as it continues to work out its kinks. Here's hoping it happens sooner than later. 

Via [New York Times]


Image: GOA

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A royal EnergyEmbarrassment
The EnergyStar program just can't seem to catch a break: A gasoline-powered alarm clock and other red flag-raising items are given the green light in a recent a