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The Ecodesign Directive for energy-related products

The EU Ecodesign Directive establishes a framework under which manufacturers of energy-using products are obliged to reduce the energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts occurring throughout the product life cycle. It is complemented by the Energy Labelling Directive.

It is generally acknowledged that a product¹s lifetime energy use is strongly influenced at the design phase.

'Ecodesign' means that there will be a greater focus on lifetime energy use and other environmental aspects during the conception and design phases, before it is manufactured and brought to market.

The combination of ecodesign and energy labelling is considered as one of the most effective policy tool in the area of energy efficiency.

In a discussion paper from February 2013, analysis by CLASP has identified an additional 40-70 TWh per annum by 2030 from eleven existing ecodesign and energy labelling regulations covering seven product groups. All eleven regulations are scheduled for review between now and the end of 2014. Read more here.

The Ecodesign Directive sets a framework for performance criteria which manufacturers must meet in order to legally bring their product to the market. It does not yet, however, prescribe specific measures or standards and sets no overall energy saving targets. A revised Directive extends the scope of the existing Directive by covering in principle all energy-related products.

While ecodesign aims at improving the energy and environmental performance of products and set minimum requirements, energy labelling requirements aim at providing the information about the same performance.The recast Energy Labelling Directive Directive 2010/30/EU was adopted in May 2010. It extends the energy labelling system from consumer-related products to energy-related products in the commercial and industrial sectors, for example cold storage rooms and vending machines.

Products and measures

All energy using products sold in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors are covered by the Directive with the exception of all means of transport which are covered by other legislation. The revised Directive, which entered into force in November 2009, extends the scope of the existing Directive by covering in principle all energy-related products. In the future, windows, insulation materials, and certain water using products like shower heads or taps are expected to be covered as well.

Detailed actions are introduced by the European Commission following a process of discussion with key stakeholders and through what the Commission calls implementing measures. Manufacturers who begin marketing an energy using product covered by an implementing measure in the EU area have to ensure that it conforms to the energy and environmental standards set out by the measure.

The Ecodesign working plan sets out an indicative list of prioritised product groups. The revised working plan for 2012-2014 was released in December 2012 and replaces the working plan covering 2009-2011.

Requirements for product energy labelling are adopted alongside  ecodesign implementing measures. Energy labels are intended to provide consumers with energy and environmental information on which they can base a choice between products on the market.

Key dates

  • 2005 onwards: Commission issues tenders for preparatory studies for 14 categories of energy using products as basis for implementing measures
  • 2008: The Commission established a working plan setting out an indicative list of product groups which will be considered as priorities for the adoption of implementing measures between 2009 and 2011.
  • 20 Nov 2009: Revised Ecodesign Directive entered into force.
  • 2012: Working plan for 2012-2014 was released.