Connected Criteria Overview
EPA maintains connected criteria for certain ENERGY STAR product categories where network connectivity enables additional opportunities for energy savings and grid benefits. Since introducing connected recognition in 2011, EPA has sought to encourage connected products to deliver meaningful energy performance (via efficiency and grid services) as well as providing other features that users are interested in. As the landscape of home automation and load flexibility continues to change, EPA will strive to recognize connected products with the functionality that grid operators currently need. Simultaneously, EPA hopes to chart a path for connected products to support the grid of the future by establishing transparent communication with key stakeholders.
Meeting connected criteria is optional for all products where connectivity is not the primary driver of energy performance, but is required for connected thermostats and smart home systems to certify as ENERGY STAR.
When developing connected criteria for a given product category, EPA considers the value of connectivity to the user, including convenience and energy savings, and to the electric grid via Demand Response (DR).
Based on these considerations, EPA has included a subset of the capabilities below in the connected criteria for each product category.
* Products that meet the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) standards are understood to have incorporated energy consumption reporting, operational status reporting, and remote management into the foundation of their connectivity.
** Connected criteria are newly introduced to the ENERGY STAR specifications for water heaters and central A/Cs and heat pumps; the new connected criteria are expected to be finalized in Q1 of 2021.
The connected infrastructure involves communication between different entities and requires the use of a combination communication protocols. The main function of messaging protocols is to carry specific instructions to the individual entities but are independent of how they are carried. Particularly for large loads for which managing, and coordinating based on grid conditions is so important, a nationally uniform platform can drive interoperability.
The connected product Communication Link shall use Open Standards for all communication layers to enable functions listed in Remote Management and User Alerts. An Interface Control Document (ICD), Application Programming Interface (API), or other documentation shall be made available to interested parties that, at minimum, allows access to the functions listed in Remote Management and User Alerts.
These include standards that are: 1) Included in the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) Catalog of Standards,6 and/or 2) Included in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Smart Grid framework Tables 4.1 and 4.2,7 and/or 3) Adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or another well-established international standards organization such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), or Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
There are multiple options for network and application layers, covering various links in the communication chain. Many options overlap, having both transport and messaging layer standards, and potentially covering more than one link.
|Application Layer Communication Standards||Media/Network Layer Communication Standards|
The graphic below illustrates a sample of potential pathways for utility DR signals to be passed to relevant devices via open standards application layer and transport layer protocols. Each arrow represents a potential communication link between the utility and the end-product. For example, one potential DR command pathway is for the utility to communicate with an aggregator via an OpenADR command. The aggregator then uses CTA-2045 for downstream communication to a water heater via WiFi. While the graphic illustrates some of the more common communication pathways, EPA expects that there are additional open standards grid communications architectures not captured by the graphic. For devices where the ENERGY STAR Connected Criteria require grid communications functionality, any of the pathways shown below would likely satisfy the requirements.