The ENERGY STAR program was established by EPA in 1992, under the authority of the Clean Air Act Section 103(g).
Section103(g) of the Clean Air Act directs EPA to "develop, evaluate, and demonstrate nonregulatory strategies and technologies for air pollution prevention… with opportunities for participation by [stakeholders]… including SOx, NOx… CO2… including end-use efficiency, and fuel-switching to cleaner fuels." (42 USC Section 7403g)
In 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act. Section 131 of the Act amends Section 324 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to implement “a voluntary program to identify and promote energy–efficient products and buildings in order to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of or other forms of communication about products and buildings that meet the highest energy efficiency standards.” The Act further directs EPA and DOE to work jointly to “(1) promote ENERGY STAR compliant technologies as the preferred technologies in the marketplace for (A) achieving energy efficiency; (B) and reducing pollution; (2) work to enhance public awareness of the ENERGY STAR label, including providing special outreach to small businesses; (3) preserve the integrity of the ENERGY STAR label; (4) regularly update Energy Star product criteria for product categories;” and to solicit comments from interested parties prior to establishing/revising ENERGY STAR product categories, specifications, or criterion. (42 USC Section 6294a)
The federal government is required to use ENERGY STAR for the procurement of energy efficient products, lighting fixtures and bulbs for federal buildings, and the procurement of energy efficient appliances in public housing. Federal agencies may not lease space in any building that has not earned the ENERGY STAR label in the most recent year. All federally owned buildings are also required to track and report their energy use through ENERGY STAR. (42 USC Section 17091; 42 USC Section 8259B; 40 USC Section 3313; 42 USC Section 15841; 42 USC Section 8253)
State and Local Laws
As of the end of 2016, 23 local governments and two states rely on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool as the foundation for their building energy benchmarking requirements. Combined, these requirements apply to approximately 100,000 buildings, representing more than 10.8 billion square feet. Additional local governments and states have required ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in the benchmarking of their own facilities. Learn more about state and local benchmarking policies.
The European Union, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Taiwan all rely on ENERGY STAR in their own policies through formal agreements with EPA, creating international harmonization of energy-efficiency testing and labeling for private companies. Learn more about international agreements.