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Living up to the expectations? Monitoring the effects of ecodesign and energy labeling in Germany

Panel: 7. Appliances, products, lighting and ICT

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Corinna Fischer, Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Germany
Uta Weiß, ifeu Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung, Germany
Yifaat Baron, Öko-Institut e.V., Germany
Tilman Hesse, Öko-Institut e.V., Germany
Ina Rüdenauer, Öko-Institut e.V., Germany
Jürgen Sutter, Öko-Institut e.V., Germany
Britta Stratmann


Ecodesign and Energy Labeling are policies with a strong component of ex ante impact assessment. Preparatory studies project potential savings, additional impact assessments qualify the estimations in the light of concrete regulatory alternatives. The bulky “Ecodesign Impact Accounting” harmonized all this data in order to provide a comparative assessment of energy savings and other Ecodesign effects (VHK 2015).

However, retrospective accounts of what has actually been achieved are much scarcer. The authors of the paper have been involved in a study for the German Ministry of the Economy, trying to pinpoint national level savings from Ecodesign and Labeling measures, and using actual national sales and energy consumption data wherever possible. The study spans both product groups that have recently been regulated (boilers, water heaters and air conditioning) and product groups with a longer history (electric motors, household refrigerators and freezers, household lighting). For the first group, projections against a BAU scenario have been developed. For the latter group, actual developments have been compared to a fictitious scenario without regulations. One striking result is that (projected or estimated) national level savings are consistently by an order of magnitude smaller than what could be expected if the Ecodesing Impact Accounting figures had been scaled down to Germany, using e.g. share of the EU population, BIP, or built area as scaling factors.

Several possible explanations are discussed, ranging from methodological artefacts to national peculi-arities up to the suspicion that at least some EU projections may be systematically overestimated. The latter hypothesis is specifically explored for cold appliances and lighting where detailed sales and technical data allows to pinpoint trends in sales strategies and product features that are likely to dampen regulatory effects.


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