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Should EPA Expand the Energy Star Rating to Medical Equipment?

Clark Reed, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Introduced by EPA in 1992 for energy-efficient computers, the ENERGY STAR® program has grown to encompass more than 50 product categories in addition to new homes and commercial buildings. For each product category, a unique specification describes the energy performance requirements that a product must meet to qualify for the label. Product manufacturers may use the label to identify those models that meet the energy performance requirements.

EPA is beginning to conduct research on a potential new ENERGY STAR product category: medical equipment. Over the next two years, EPA and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) are partnering to study the energy consumption characteristics of medical equipment in full load and stand-by modes. Once consumption characteristics are known, EPA will consider the following criteria to determine whether to develop ENERGY STAR product specifications:

  • Significant energy savings can be realized on a national basis.
  • Product performance can be maintained or enhanced with increased energy efficiency.
  • Purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency within a reasonable time period.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved with several technology options, at least one of which is non-proprietary.
  • Product energy consumption and performance and can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

To develop ENERGY STAR product specifications, EPA uses a systematic process that relies on rigorous market, engineering, and pollution savings analyses as well as input from industry stakeholders. These specifications are then periodically reviewed to evaluate their continued relevancy, as appropriate.

Labs21 Connection:

Currently there exists no comprehensive body of data on the energy consumption characteristics of health care medical equipment and the associated heat gain emitted in healthcare spaces. Consequently, there is no industry standard for selecting medical equipment in order to meet energy efficiency targets. The research will gather data on power consumption and heat gain characteristics from bench tests, manufacturer's tests, or measurements from actual installations. Thirty-nine pieces of equipment will be evaluated including Magnetic Resonance Imaging, CAT scans, PET scans, Cardiac Catherization, X-Rays and X-ray photo equipment, Respirators, Heart Monitors, and centrifuges.

This research and the anticipated results support the Labs21 Approach in several ways. The impact of medical equipment is evaluated comprehensively, from building plug loads to heat loads on facility HVAC systems. The performance of equipment will be tracked and the results will be shared through industry documents. Engineers will be able to use the data to more accurately size HVAC loads and right size equipment. The EPA will also be able to evaluate the data to determine where best to expand the ENERGY STAR label, collaborate with industry, and increase the visibility of energy efficient medical equipment.


Clark Reed coordinates EPA's voluntary ENERGY STAR program to improve energy efficiency and reduce air emissions in hospitals nationwide. Over the past five years, he has worked to create EPA's national energy performance rating system for acute care hospitals and medical office buildings. Mr. Reed serves on the steering committee of the Green Guide for Health Care as well as the LEED® Application Guide for Healthcare Core Committee of the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Reed earned a master's degree in environmental policy at Tufts University and a bachelor of arts degree in economics at the University of Washington. He has been a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association since 1999.

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