Mission and History

mission and history

About Us

ASAP advocates for appliance, equipment, and lighting standards that cut planet-warming emissions and other air pollution, save water, and reduce economic and environmental burdens for low- and moderate-income households. ASAP’s steering committee includes representatives from environmental and efficiency nonprofits, consumer groups, the utility sector, and state government.

Appliance Standards Awareness Project
45 Bradfield Ave - Boston, MA 02131
Call: 339.933.8140
Email: info@standardsasap.org

How We Work

ASAP organizes the collective effort of efficiency proponents including efficiency, consumer, and environmental groups; utility companies; state government agencies; and others. Working together, the ASAP coalition seeks to build support for new and updated standards at the national and state levels through technical and policy advocacy and outreach and education. ASAP is led by a steering committee that includes representatives from energy and water efficiency organizations, the environmental community, consumer groups, utilities, and state government. ASAP is based at ACEEE.

The Short History

Efficiency proponents have achieved sustained and accelerating improvements in appliance, equipment, and lighting standards since the mid-1970s, with ASAP participating since its founding in 1999. This progress has been marked by multi-forum advocacy, shifting from federal rulemakings, to congressional advocacy, to the courts, to the states and back again.

The Longer History

ASAP was founded in 1999 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Alliance to Save Energy, the Energy Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The founding organizations had been involved in appliance standards work for many years but recognized that a broader, more organized advocacy effort would more consistently yield better standards. They founded ASAP to spearhead this effort.

Initial Mission Focused on Four National Standards

ASAP’s initial mission focused on winning four key new national standards during the final two years of the Clinton administration. This effort proved very successful: The Department of Energy (DOE) completed strong new standards for central air conditioners, clothes washers, fluorescent ballasts, and water heaters. The 2001 central air conditioner standard by itself will avoid the need for more than 150 new power plants.

Federal Inaction Spurs State Standards Action

In 2001, the new leadership at DOE sought to roll back the air conditioner standard, and work on new standards ground to a near halt. ASAP worked successfully to defend the air conditioner standard. The rollback was ruled illegal by a court decision in 2004. With reduced opportunities for new national standards via DOE rulemaking, ASAP focused attention on state standards, working to advance new standards in California and crafting model legislation for consideration in other states. This state-based effort led to new state standards programs in a dozen states by the middle of the last decade. It also led to negotiated agreements with industry for new national standards. Fifteen such negotiated standards were enacted by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and another 10 were enacted in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, including first-ever standards for general service light bulbs.

Advocates and States File Lawsuit—DOE Required to Catch Up on Missed Deadlines

In 2004, NRDC, consumer groups, and several states led by New York brought a lawsuit against DOE for its failure to meet statutory deadlines to update more than 22 standards. This lawsuit resulted in a consent decree signed in 2006, which committed DOE to catch up on all missed deadlines by June 30, 2011. The 2005 and 2007 energy laws also set new legal deadlines for DOE. As a result, ASAP’s work focused once again on the DOE standard-setting process.

DOE Catches Up with Backlog

Between 2008 and 2012, ASAP and allies led the pro-efficiency advocacy effort in every active DOE standards-setting process. These covered more than 30 products and resulted in new or updated standards for more than 15 products. Notable successes include the 2009 fluorescent lamp standards which, at the time, was the biggest energy saver ever completed by DOE and multi-product negotiated agreements with industry groups that resulted in strong new standards for home heating and cooling products and many major household appliances. By the end of 2011, DOE had met all of the deadlines required under the 2006 consent decree (with one product being granted a 120-day extension.) During this time, DOE also modernized its certification and enforcement efforts, working to ensure a level playing field for all manufacturers and that products deliver the expected consumer energy savings. 

Progress Achieved

Between 2012 and early 2017, DOE updated product standards as required by law, pursued standards for new products (including pumps, fans and blowers, and wine chillers), and adopted new and updated test procedures. Some of the biggest-saving standards included electric motors, furnace fans, and commercial rooftop air conditioners, which eclipsed fluorescent lamps as the largest energy-saving standard ever issued by DOE. Many standards during this period were established through DOE-sponsored negotiated rulemakings between industry and efficiency proponents (efficiency, consumer, and environmental groups; state governments; and utilities),under the auspices of DOE's Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC).

Progress Stalled at DOE and States Picked up the Slack

Between 2017 and early 2021, progress at DOE stalled and in some case, went backward. As of January 2021, DOE had missed 28 legal deadlines for updated standards, rolled back light bulb standards, and made it more difficult to update existing standards and establish new ones. States picked up the mantle. Seven states adopted standards for more than a dozen products, including adopting federal light bulb standards into state law to protect against the federal rollback. 

DOE Undoing Rollbacks and Working to Catch up on Missed Deadlines

In 2021, DOE, following President Biden's executive order, began work to reverse harmful rules from the prior administration such as the light bulb rollback and the multi-showerhead rule that allowed unlimited amounts of water. DOE is also working to catch up on 28 missed legal deadlines for standards and test procedures.