Latest Developments in the European Regulations on Eco Design

The compliance world was shaken up in 2005 with the realization that the European Union was enacting legislation that would require manufacturers wishing to sell their electrical or electronic products in the EU to reduce the environmental impact of these products through design. The practice of eco design was to be enshrined in Law and many companies who would not normally have considered the environmental impact of their products now faced the prospect of being legally obliged to do so. Since the introduction of this legislation, in the form of the Energy using Products Directive, industry has been monitoring its phased implementation to see to what degree the requirements will affect their designs. Following a summary of the scope and major features of the legislation, this article will review the latest developments in the implementation process and give an overview of the emerging design requirements. It will go on to discuss the important areas of conformity assessment, market surveillance and enforcement and conclude by looking at possible future developments and discuss to what degree the legislation fulfils the goal of reducing environmental impacts.

The EuP Directive
The EuP directive, came into force on the 10th August 2005 and was transposed into Member State law by 10th August 2007. Its full title is “Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 establishing a framework for the setting of eco design requirements for energy-using products.”

Following on from the WEEE and ROHS directives which address waste and hazardous substance risks at disposal, it was the first piece of EU legislation to mandate life cycle eco design principles and requirements for products. However the directive is a “framework” directive. It does not in itself contain any eco design requirements but establishes a legal and administrative framework within which eco design requirements can be placed on products via separate instruments called implementing measures.

The scope of the directive is wide, covering all products which are placed on the market and/or put into service that depend on energy input from electricity, fossil fuels or renewable energy sources to work as intended. It also includes energy using parts intended for incorporation into energy using products, that are placed on the market in their own right, intended for end users and can be individually environmentally assessed. Although the scope is wide, the eco design requirements are defined in the implementing measures so unless there is a measure in force for a particular type or group of products they will not be affected by the directive.

A significant feature of the directive is that products covered by and complying with the requirements of an implementing measure must be CE marked and have an EC declaration of conformity raised before they can be placed on the EU market. So in addition to EMC and safety, the CE marking on electrical and electronic products covered by an implementing measure will signify that the product also complies with eco design requirements.

The ErP Directive – Extension of Scope
In 2009, the scope of the EuP directive was extended through the introduction of a new directive to include products that do not necessarily need energy to function but have an impact on energy consumption during use. It applies to energy related products which are placed on the market and/or put into service, including parts intended to be incorporated into energy-related products which are placed on the market and/or put into service as individual parts for end-users and of which the environmental performance can be assessed independently. This directive is called the Energy related Products directive and its full title is “Directive 2009/125/EC of The European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of eco design requirements for energy-related products.”

The directive is a recast of the EuP which it repeals and is largely the same in content, including within its scope all the products originally covered by the EuP directive. The process of introduction of implementing measures under the EuP directive will not be affected by the recast directive and an update of the status of these follows later in this article.

The intention is to include products such as building insulation and double glazed windows that can have a major impact on the efficient use of energy in the product or structure into which they are installed and whose energy efficiency performance can be improved by design. The Commission will be undertaking studies to determine which energy related products should be considered for implementing measures and we will see a shortlist in due course. These will then have to be go through the process of preparatory studies, drafting, consultation and voting by the Regulatory Committee before an implementing measure can be enacted. This process alone can take between 3 to 4 years, so we are unlikely to see any measures covering products such as double glazed windows before 2015. For the purposes of this article ErP will continue to be referred to as EuP to avoid confusion.

Status of Implementation of EuP
Table 1 shows the status of the implantation program for EuP as of March 2010. This has been extracted from the UK’s Market Transformation Programme website which you can access at

It shows that currently there are 9 regulations in force covering:

  • Standby and Off Mode Consumption for Household and Office Equipment
  • External Power Supplies
  • Simple Set Top Boxes
  • TVs
  • Domestic Lighting
  • Tertiary Lighting
  • Domestic Cold Appliances
  • Electric Motors 1-150kW
  • Circulators

The regulation for domestic dishwashers and washing machines has passed the Regulatory Committee stage but is under scrutiny by the European Parliament.

Although these regulations are in force, they generally allow time for the necessary phasing out of the old designs before the requirements become mandatory, in some cases in a tiered fashion over a number of years. The specific requirements for products and their phasing can be found in the regulations by following the url links provided in the table. It is of interest to note that the implementing measures are being introduced in the form of EU regulations. Such regulations are binding on Member States from the date of publication and require no transposition into Member State law as is the case for directives. This speeds up the whole process and makes for less scope for interpretation.

You will note in the table that the measure for imaging equipment is under consideration for introduction as an industry voluntary agreement. There are also voluntary agreements under discussion for medical equipment and machine tools which are not yet in the implementation plan. The Commission encourages voluntary agreements where it can be demonstrated that they are of sufficient ambition and substance to ensure that the objectives of the measure are achieved within at least the same timescales and the directive allows for such voluntary agreements to be implemented.

The Commission also has preliminary studies underway for the following products which feature in the draft Working Plan for the next phase of implementing measures:

  • Refrigerated and freezing equipment: service cabinets, walk-in cold rooms, chillers, ice makers, ice cream and milk-shake machines, minibars
  • Transformers: distribution transformers, power transformers
  • Sound and imaging equipment: DVD/video players and recorders, video projectors, video game consoles
  • Local room heating products
  • Central heating products using hot air to distribute heat (other than Combined Heat and Power)
  • Domestic and commercial ovens (electric, gas, microwave), including incorporated into cookers
  • Domestic and commercial hobs and grills including when incorporated into cookers
  • Professional washing machines, dryers and dishwashers
  • Non-tertiary coffee machines
  • Networked standby losses of energy using products
  • Domestic uninterrupted power supplies (UPS)


Implementing Measure Date of Application and/or Status
Regulations in Force
Standby and Off Mode Consumption of Household and Office Equipment Tier 1 Jan 2010, Tier 2 Jan 2013
Commission Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008 of 17 December 2008
Draft guidelines published in July 2009
External Power Supplies Tier 1 Apr 2010, Tier 2 Apr 2013
Commission Regulation (EC) No 278/2009 of 6 April 2009
Simple Set Top Boxes Tier 1 25th Feb 2010, Tier 2 25 Feb 2012
Commission Regulation (EC) No 107/2009 of 4 February 2009
TVs From Jan 2010
Commission Regulation (EC) No 642/2009 of 22 July 2009
Domestic Lighting (I) covering non-reflecting Incandescents, halogen and compact fluorescents with integrated ballast Applies in 6 stages Sep 2010 through Sep 2016
Commission Regulation (EC) No 244/2009 of 18th March 2009
Tertiary (Non-domestic) Lighting 13th Apr 2009
Commission Regulation (EC) No 245/2009 of 18 March 2009
To be amended, Intention to enter to force before 13 April 2010.
Changes include: revised efficiency and lifetime requirements, allowance for spiral lamps, exemptions, and labelling requirements.
Domestic Cold Appliances ( replacing 96/57/EC) Jul 2010 thru Jul 2015
Commission Regulation (EC) No 643/2009 of 22 July 2009
Electric motors 1-150 kW August 2009
Commission Regulation (EC) No 640/2009 of 22 July 2009 (motors)
Circulators (glandless standalone circulators and glandless circulators integrated in products) Tier 1 Jan 2013, Tier 2 Aug 2015
Commission Regulation (EC) No 641/2009 of 22nd July 2009 (circulators)
Measures still to be voted by Regulatory Committee or under Parliamentary scrutiny
Boilers and combi-boilers (gas/oil/electric),  ( replacing 92/42/EEC) 2010/2011
Implementing Measures to be discussed by Regulatory Committee. Currently scheduled for Jun 2010.
Water heaters (gas/oil/electric), (replacing 92/42/EEC) 2010/2011
Implementing Measures to be discussed by Regulatory Committee. Currently scheduled for Jun 2010
Domestic dishwashers and washing machines Implementing Measure on eco-design & labelling for washing machines agreed in Regulatory Committee on 31 March 2009. Currently undergoing European Parliament scrutiny.
Implementing Measures for dishwashers to be discussed by Regulatory Committee. No date currently scheduled.
Pumps (drinking water, food, agriculture) Implementing Measures for fans and pumps currently scheduled for discussion by Regulatory Committee in early 2010.
Preliminary papers received expecting RC to be mid March
Fans, (ventilation fans, commercial buildings, (non-residential)
Residential room conditioning appliances (air con and ventilation) 2010/2011
Regulatory Committee vote expected Jun 2010
Imaging Equipment 2010/2011
Voluntary Agreement proposed by Digital Europe, but generally considered as weak by UK and others. Waiting for Digital Europe to finalise proposal with Commission
Personal Computers (desktops and laptops) and computer monitors 2011/2011
Further written consultation required as small scale servers added to scope
This finished 22 Jan.
ENERGY STAR 5, proposed 12 months after Regulation comes into force.
Redraft likely
Solid fuel small combustion installations (in particular for heating) 2011/2012
Consultation Forum expected Autumn 2010
Laundry dryers 2011/2012
Consultation Forum expected Autumn 2010
Vacuum cleaners 2011/2012
Consultation Forum expected Autumn 2010
Complex set top boxes (with conditional access and/or functions that are always on) 2011/2012
Revised Voluntary Agreement to be proposed by industry.
Commercial refrigerators and freezers, including chillers, display cabinets and vending machines 2010/2011
Consultation Forum expected Autumn 2010
Domestic lighting (II) – including reflectors and luminaires 2011/2012
Commission to propose working document this spring for consultation forum.
Regulatory Committee vote in autumn 2010.

Table 1: Status of Implementing Measures

Requirements in Implementing Measures

Design Requirements
According to the EuP provisions, requirements in implementing measures must improve the environmental performance of the products covered and may be specific, e.g. specifying maximum standby losses or generic e.g. improving recyclability. The impacts of the products must be addressed across the product life cycle. Interestingly although the directive requires impacts to be considered across the “life cycle,” it goes on to define the life cycle as starting at raw material use. So at the outset it excludes consideration of all the environmental impacts of obtaining the raw material, including pollution, transportation, destruction of habitat, embedded energy and degradation of finite non-renewable resources, which, for some products, can be significant.

The directive also allows for manufacturers to be required carry out ecological profiling of their products, i.e. determining the product design aspects that give rise to the most significant environmental impacts across the whole product life cycle. In reality this only needs to be done if required by the implementing measure covering the product, and, so far, none of the forthcoming measures include this requirement, as the profiling of the life cycle impacts has already been carried out for the product group during the preliminary studies prior to introduction of the measure.

The requirements reflected in the early regulations focus almost entirely on specific measures for energy reduction in the use phase, as the preparatory studies have already identified this as the most significant aspect, contributing significantly to green house gas emissions. For some products, aspects relating to materials and hazardous chemicals were also under consideration during the preparatory study phase but did not see the light of day in the implementing measures. Instead the RoHS directive and the REACH regulation are relied upon to reduce the risk from potentially hazardous substances. Impacts related to the sourcing and use of materials have been ignored.

This almost total emphasis on reducing energy in use arises from the political necessity to meet carbon dioxide emissions targets in line with Kyoto commitments and beyond and the fact that the most significant contributor to life cycle environmental impacts for electrically powered products has been shown to be energy in use. So it appears that for the foreseeable future, this life cycle eco design legislation is being aimed exclusively at climate change to the exclusion of other major environmental issues such as material resource efficiency and bio-diversity and only at the energy in use phase. This trend continued with the introduction of the ErP directive which extended the requirement to reduce energy use to non-powered products rather than defining requirements for other product aspects or other life cycle phases for powered products.

Later measures and later revisions may include requirements addressing other phases of the products life cycle, e.g. energy in manufacturing and end of life, in addition to other product aspects that adversely impact the environment such as material resource efficiency and recycling, but for the moment the emphasis is on reducing energy in use to give quick, significant and politically justifiable gains.

Energy reducing requirements appearing in regulations include, reducing standby and off mode losses for all household and office equipment, reducing no load losses and increasing efficiency of external power supplies, increasing the efficacy (lumens/watt) and performance of electric lamps, reducing “on” “standby” and “off” mode energy consumption in SSTBs, TVs and monitors and increasing the efficiency of motors and circulators. The levels to be met are specified in the regulations and for office equipment products such as PCs and monitors are generally in line with ENERGY STAR® requirements. We can assume that future regulations for the range of products under consideration will focus on the same types of requirements.

Design approaches identified emphasise the employment of power management including auto transitioning, adaptive clock frequency, use of autarkic secondary power supplies for standby mode and use of very low power (or no power) display technologies.

Demonstrating Compliance
Conformity Assessment Procedures
As the EuP directive is a CE marking directive then it falls under the New Approach in terms of the way compliance is assessed and certified. Conformity assessment procedures must be defined in the implementing regulations chosen from among the modules specified in Council Decision 92/465/EEC of 22nd July 1993 (concerning the modules for the various phases of the conformity assessment procedures and the rules for affixing and use of the CE conformity marking).

The procedures defined in the EuP directive for use in implementing measures are “Internal Design Control” and “management System” or full QA system, with the choice of which to use left to the manufacturer.

Internal Design control is effectively the technical documentation file process that we find in the original EMC directive but without the need for any third party assessment and certification. The manufacturer or person responsible will have to ensure that the technical documentation file contains the evidence of compliance. This could include the eco-design requirements from the implementing measure, the ecological profile if required by the measure, design processes and measures taken, measurements and assessment of improvements made in environmental impact. The full quality assurance option is available for those companies that have implemented a management system along the lines of ISO 9001 or ISO14001, although, as there will still be a requirement for documentary evidence of compliance, there is little fundamental difference between the two procedures. Where companies have registered their management systems to EMAS or to ISO standards, there is a presumption that the systems comply with the requirements in the directive.

Unlike other new approach directives, there will be no involvement either mandatory or voluntary of any competent or notified bodies in the pre-market assessment of conformity to EuP. It is entirely self assessment and certification. However, notified bodies may be appointed in Member States to assist during the post market surveillance enforcement activity.

Just as with the EMC and LVD requirements, manufacturers are required to affix the CE marking to compliant products or, where this is not possible, to the packaging and accompanying documentation and to raise and sign an EC Declaration of Conformity.

Testing and Standards
Like all new approach directives CENELEC has been mandated to develop harmonized standards that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the EuP regulating measures. Products that conform to these standards will carry a presumption of compliance with the regulations but of course application of these standards will be voluntary. As we have seen, the trend for design requirements evolving in the EuP implementation is primarily for improvement in energy efficiency and reduction of energy consumption. Demonstrating compliance with these requirements involves measurement of electrical power. The regulations do not specify how to measure this but rather require that the power consumption (and indeed all measurements) “shall be established by a reliable, accurate and reproducible measurement procedure, which takes into account the generally recognized state of the art.” In some regulations the phrase “including methods set out in documents the reference numbers of which have been published for that purpose in the Official Journal of the European Union” is added, referring to the harmonized standards that may or not be available for use with the regulation. (Remember that the presumption of compliance with regulation only applies to harmonized standards that have been published in the Official Journal). The regulations also specify that the measurements of power of 0.50 W or greater shall be made with an uncertainty of less than or equal to 2 % at the 95 % confidence level. Measurements of power of less than 0.50 W shall be made with an uncertainty of less than or equal to 0.01 W at the
95 % confidence level.

At this moment in time there are very few standards published for use with EuP regulations and it could be argued that in many cases they are not necessary, as only voltages, currents, power and other simple parameters need to be measured. Measuring with any power analyzer, able to measure to the desired uncertainty, should be sufficient, although some specialized equipment may be required such as a peak luminance meter and a dynamic broadband content video signal generator for TVs. This means that test facilities carrying out measurements for the purposes of demonstrating compliance with EuP regulations will have to develop their test procedures from test equipment manufacturers’ instructions without any guidance from standards. This will certainly be the case if they wish to seek accreditation from a national accreditation body.

One exception to this general lack of standards is that of electric household lamps where harmonized standards for measuring efficacy, lifetime, luminous flux, etc. are available and are referenced in the regulation as an option for use.

There are also standards available for eco design, for example EN60601-1-9, which defines eco design requirements for electrical medical devices and IEC/EN 62430 which covers electronic equipment in general, but these are design practice standards rather than measurement standards and ironically although an essential aid in carrying out eco design, have little relevance to compliance with the EuP regulations.

Information Requirements
In addition to meeting the performance requirements, the regulations contain requirements for information that the manufacturer must provide. These are too extensive and various to cover in this article but typically would include the following (taken from the SSTB regulation):

Information to be provided by the manufacturers for the purposes of conformity assessment
For the purposes of conformity assessment pursuant to
Article 5, the technical documentation shall contain the following elements:
(a) For standby and active modes
— The power consumption data in Watts rounded to the second decimal place including consumption data for the different additional functions and/or components
— The measurement method used
— Period of measurement
— Description of how the appliance mode was selected or programmed
— Sequence of events to reach the mode where the equipment automatically changes modes
— Any notes regarding the operation of the equipment
(b) Test parameters for measurements
— Ambient temperature
— Test voltage in V and frequency in Hz
— Total harmonic distortion of the electricity supply system
— The fluctuation of the power supply voltage during the tests
— Information and documentation on the instrumentation, set-up and circuits used for electrical testing
— Input signals in RF (for digital terrestrial broadcasts) or IF (for satellite broadcasts)
— Audio/video test signals as described in the MPEG-2 transport stream
— Adjustment of controls

The power requirements of peripheral devices powered by the STB for broadcast reception, such as active terrestrial antenna, satellite LNB or any cable or telecom modem are not required to be included in the technical documentation.

Information to be provided by the manufacturers for the purposes of consumer information
Manufacturers shall ensure that consumers of SSTBs are provided with the power consumption in Watts rounded to the first decimal place of standby and active modes of the SSTB.

Enforcement and Market Surveillance
Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9th July 2008, the so called “RAMS” regulation, came into force on 1st January 2010 and sets out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products in the EU. The Regulation establishes a European-wide legal framework for the organization and operation of accreditation of conformity assessment bodies, thus enhancing confidence in conformity assessment by strengthening the role of accreditation for activities such as calibration, testing, certification and inspection bodies. It also reinforces Market Surveillance structures to protect citizens from unsafe products and level the playing field for compliant businesses, by removing those products from the market and taking action against fraudulent manufacture.

The Regulation requires each Member State formally to appoint a sole National accreditation Body under the requirements set out in the Regulation, and the NABs will be required to operate accreditation as a public authority activity. The overall aim of the Regulation is to make the operation of accreditation more consistent across Europe, thus encouraging the mutual recognition of conformity assessment results and certificates and avoiding the problems such as those for example, associated with uniformly enforcing the RoHS directive. The UK has appointed UKAS as its sole NAB, continuing with the existing set up. This regulation has no direct impact on manufacturers but should help to ensure a more level paying field throughout the EU through greater consistency in measurement.

Enforcement will be carried out by national market surveillance authorities or MSAs, appointed by the Member States who will have the necessary budget to undertake verification test programs on specific manufacturer’s products where due suspicion arises or on ranges of different manufacturers products for market compliance testing. In the UK, the National Measurement Office has been appointed as the MSA for The EuP and energy labeling regulations.

Future Plans for Eco Design Legislation
Even more implementing measures in the future are being considered under the original EuP directive to cover telecommunications networking equipment and a variety of industrial and medical electronic and electrical equipment.

The full group of products to be addressed can be found in the working plan report at on pages 33 and 34. Adoption of measures for these products is unlikely before 2014/2015 but does show the commitment of the EU to reduce environmental impacts of most electrically powered products over the longer term. In addition, we have already seen the recast ErP directive extending the scope of mandatory eco design measures to energy related products, and the ErP directive itself has a mandatory review clause to review the directive and its implementation by 2012, specifically to assess if the scope should be widened further to include “non-energy-related products.” This would then open up the whole of the product manufacturing industry to mandatory eco design, which, due to the different nature of non electrical products, is likely to involve design measures aimed at product environmental aspects other than energy and at life cycle phases other than use. The most likely targets will be energy in manufacture and energy embedded in the materials and components which will bring supply chain management firmly into the environmental compliance picture.

Recently it has been revealed that the European Commission wants to launch a “flagship” initiative to improve resource efficiency under its forthcoming 2020 strategy for “smart, green and inclusive growth.” The goal is to decouple growth from energy use (again there is no mention of non-energy resources). The Commission is also proposing under a separate “clean and efficient enerwgy” initiative to set up a roadmap for low-carbon energy systems by 2050, adopting a revised efficiency action plan and launching a clean vehicle initiative.

This proposed strategy has come under severe criticism from various Green groups and NGOs, pointing out that the resource efficiency initiative is not supported by any specific proposals, the EU’s conditional 30% emission reduction target for 2020 has been omitted and there is no reference to the importance of biodiversity, or to funds for improving energy efficiency. WWF has deplored the Commission’s lack of precision in the language in regard to the exact meaning of “smarter, greener growth.” The 2020 strategy is expected to be published on 3rd March 2010.

The message is that further legislation is in the pipeline, but the emphasis on energy efficiency and consumption remains.

Beyond Legislation
As we have seen, the eco design legislation goes some way towards addressing the environmental impacts of products, but remains limited in scope and ambition, restricting itself to reduction of energy in use. While some companies will be thankful for this, many are going beyond these requirements and carrying out full life cycle eco design on their products. They have realized that significant business benefits can accrue from systematic eco design as well as benefits to the environment

Experience in large companies has shown that multiple benefits can be achieved for the organization, its customers and other interested parties. These may include:

  • increased competitiveness, cost reduction and attraction of financing and investments;
  • stimulation of innovation and creativity and identification of new business models;
  • reduction in liability through reduced environmental impacts and improved product knowledge;
  • improved public image (both for the organization image and/or brand);
  • enhancement of employee motivation.

Organizations can obtain such benefits from eco design irrespective of their size, geographical location, corporate culture, or sophistication of their management systems. Even though their style of operation may vary substantially, this will not affect the benefits which can be potentially obtained. Of course not all these benefits will necessarily be realized simultaneously or in a short time scale due to, for example, financial and technological limitations.

An essential consideration when carrying out full eco design is that it has implications for all functions of an organization, and, in order to be of benefit to the organization and to ensure that it achieves its environmental goals, eco design should be carried out as an integral part of the business operations of the organization, not as an add on to the design department.

This article has described how the legislation mandating eco design of energy related products is being implemented in the EU. It has given an overview of the requirements and what needs to be done to comply. It also has shown that the legislation, although working within a wide framework, is limiting itself to addressing energy in use to the possible detriment of other environmental aspects and impacts. Hopefully, however, this legislation, for all its limitations,
will stimulate companies to consider the long term implications of not doing anything to reduce the overall environmental impacts of their products and start them down the road towards a sustainable future. favicon

Vic Clements is an environmental specialist and freelance consultant and can be reached at vclements