Eco-labeling for energy efficiency and sustainability: A meta-evaluation of US programs

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Eco-labeling is a promising market-based approach for improving the environmental performance of products through consumer choice. While eco-labeling itself is not new, eco-labeling to promote energy efficiency or sustainability is a more recent phenomenon. Five such energy-labeling programs in the US are evaluated: Green Seal, Scientific Certification Systems, Energy Guide, Energy Star, and Green-e. Of these, the first four certify energy-efficient appliances while the last one certifies renewable electricity. While Energy Guide and Energy Star are government-run programs, the rest are privately administered. Two evaluation criteria were used-consumer response and manufacturer/marketer response. Very few studies have been done on the private programs making comparative analysis more difficult. It was found that government programs, in general, and Energy Star, in particular, were much more successful than the private programs. For appliance energy labeling, the private programs were found to have an almost insignificant effect on the market. Government support proved to be crucial in determining a program's credibility, financial stability, and long-term viability. Further, targeting of specific product categories, legislative mandates, incentives, and partnerships were found to be other important factors for program success. Simple seal-of-approval logos and labels have generally affected consumer behavior more than the complex information-disclosure labels. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Energy Policy