Assembling Appliances Standards from a Basket of Functions
Rapid innovation in product design challenges the current methodology for setting standards and labels, especially for electronics, software and networking. Major problems include defining the product, measuring its energy consumption, and choosing the appropriate metric and level for the standard. Most governments have tried to solve these problems by defining ever more specific product subcategories, along with their corresponding test methods and metrics. An alternative approach would treat each energy-using product as something that delivers a basket of functions. Then separate standards would be constructed for the individual functions that can be defined, tested, and evaluated. Case studies of thermostats, displays and network equipment are presented to illustrate the problems with the classical approach for setting standards and indicate the merits and drawbacks of the alternative. The functional approach appears best suited to products whose primary purpose is processing information and that have multiple functions.