Better information alone doesn’t make a product green, but it does make it a lot easier to see just how green that product actually is. We can make more informed purchasing decisions when we know what’s in a product, not just manufacturer’s claims about what it’s “free-of”; and when we know the actual environmental impacts of manufacturing the product relative to alternatives, not just a trade association’s claim that it’s “green.” Making information public can also help manufacturers get greener. It’s often the manufacturers that are already greener that are willing to share more information in the first place, but in the process of doing so they see where they still need to improve. Products with Environmental Product Declarations are included here, along with products with other forms of disclosure, such as products from companies that participate in the Global Reporting Initiative, or provide full disclosure of ingredients, potentially via the Health Product Declaration format. GreenSpec also lists products that help track buildings' energy and water performance, especially when those tracking tools can be used to publicly display or report energy and water usage.
With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters and refrigerators, we have good data on energy consumption and can set clear standards accordingly. In some product categories—clothes washers, for example—Energy Star standards were adopted because those standards provide a high enough threshold to represent just the very top segment of the product market (less than 10%). In other product categories—e.g., refrigerators and dishwashers—we set a higher threshold than ENERGY STAR: for example, exceeding those standards by 10% or 20%. With lighting and lighting control equipment, certain generic products qualify, such as compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy/daylighting controls, while in other categories only a subset of products qualify. In some cases, products that meet the energy efficiency requirements are excluded, because of evidence of poor performance or durability. Microturbines are included here because of the potential for cogeneration (combined heat and power) that they offer.
The Energy Detective (TED) is a simple, inexpensive device for displaying real-time electricity use in a home or from a single circuit within a home. A transmitting device is installed in the home’s circuit breaker by clamping it onto the main incoming electrical leads, with data being transmitted to the receiver. More expensive models can monitor energy usage from up to four sources. Data can be viewed on a personal computer or mobile device, allowing load-shedding and graphing of historical electricity use, and most models can connect with Google's PowerMeter monitoring tool. An optional wireless display is available.
Electrical metering and submetering equipment provide valuable diagnostic information and verification of building energy loads and usage, from plug loads to whole building energy systems.
All but the most basic measurement and verification (M&V) systems submeter individual building systems, such as lighting, heating, and cooling. Especially in mixed-use buildings, submetering different areas of the building, such as office and laboratory space, can also provide useful information.
Some products in this section are also specifically designed to be educational tools.
EAc1: Optimize Energy Performance
EAc2: Enhanced Commissioning
EAc3: Enhanced Commissioning
EAc3: Measurement and Verification
EAc5: Measurement and Verification
EAc5.1: Measurement and Verification—Base Building
EAp1: Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems
EAp1: Fundamental Commissioning of the Building Energy Systems
EAp2: Minimum Energy Performance
EAp2: Minimum Energy Efficiency Performance
Ratings and Commentary