Interview series: OpenADR, EcoPort® and Energy Star

Ever wondered what about other standards like Energy Star and how they co-exist with OpenADR and CTA-2045/EcoPort? Following our recent webinar on connected appliances, we talk to Spencer Borison, Head of US at contributing member Codibly, about how these standards can work together to drive smart energy management.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your company

As the US lead at Codibly, my role is to support clients across the renewable and e-mobility sectors. Many of the projects I work on focus on demand response (DR), grid communication, standards and interoperability and smart home energy management systems (EMS). We’re passionate about driving positive change in transportation and energy, combining our expertise in software development with an in-depth knowledge of e-mobility and renewable energy to offer innovative solutions for both businesses and consumers.

What’s the market like right now?

It’s a very busy time with lots of innovation and exciting developments in the market. Right now, we’re seeing growing interest from OEMs and aggregators in terms of demand response enablement. The question we’re being asked is how do we connect devices to the grid and allow them to participate in different DR programs either through direct integration with utilities or integrating via aggregator programs? We’re working with our clients to implement and create these integrations and go to market with products to meet DR requirements.

Tell us a bit about Energy Star?

Energy Star might mean more to some than others, depending on where you’re based. But it’s well-known by sustainably aware consumers in the U.S. where it was launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992.

A voluntary labelling program, Energy Star identifies and promotes energy-efficient products in over 75 categories, from major appliances like washing machines and electronics to new homes and buildings. This then influences people to choose more sustainable products when shopping. When they see an Energy Star-certified item, they know it can help them reduce consumption and save on energy bills.

It's a federal standard but with implications at a state level. It also has global implications with Energy Star partnerships in countries like Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland where they are implementing energy efficiency programs.


What’s the connection between Energy Star, OpenADR and EcoPort?

The common ground is that these standards are playing critical roles in steering the energy sector towards a greener, more sustainable future – and driving consumers and businesses to be greener too.

The difference is that Energy Star by itself is about energy efficiency, certifying energy-saving devices. But by leveraging communications standards like OpenADR and CTA-2045 (also known as EcoPort®), it means devices achieve these energy savings while optimizing operational effectiveness through connectivity and DR functionalities. Furthermore, in order to achieve Energy Star’s “Connected” status recognition, a device must be compliant with a recognized communication standard, namely OpenADR or CTA-2045. Devices with this status are able to provide grid flexibility and offer customers the ability to save on energy costs and support the sustainability of their community, a powerful set of differentiators.

Tell us more about the benefits?

The potential benefits for users are huge, with HVAC devices, like AC systems and heat pumps, as well as washing machines, fridges, and EV chargers, able to automatically adjust their energy consumption based on real-time energy supply conditions. Timing energy use to match grid conditions allows users to reduce their bills by shifting to cheaper non-peak hours. It also means smart devices that adjust their energy use during peak times can help reduce pressure on the grid, preventing overloads and minimizing the risk of blackouts.

Devices that are CTA-2045/EcoPort and OpenADR-certified can also participate in utility DR programs. These programs incentivize customers to reduce their energy use at critical times, providing further cost savings. Smart, data-driven energy management like this shows how technology and innovation can transform daily energy consumption into an opportunity for cost savings and greater responsibility towards the environment. 

What’s next for these standards?

The landscape of energy regulation is constantly evolving, with governments around the world tightening standards to combat climate change. The growing adoption of Energy Star, OpenADR and CTA-2045/EcoPort is critical important to this evolution. In the U.S., for example, Washington and Oregon recently mandated CTA-2045/ EcoPort, while California is also considering adding it to their state standard after CTA-2045 was proposed for inclusion in the 2022 revision of California’s JA 13.

Elsewhere, governments are integrating these into their own standards. An interesting case is in the UK where the Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero has written OpenADR into two BSI standards – PAS1878 (criteria for an appliance to be recognized as an energy smart appliance) and PAS1879, which sets out a common definition of DSR services. In fact, we recently worked with a client on the development of its product to meet deadlines set by the UK government, involving complex enhancements and integration of OpenADR.

Finally, why is being part of the OpenADR Alliance important to you?

We consider ourselves a trusted partner to our clients, helping them to navigate the challenges of certification and compliance. Being a Contributing Member of the Alliance is key to this, allowing us to be part of a global ecosystem of like-minded organizations.

To watch the OpenADR and Codibly webinar on ‘Connected Appliances – OpenADR, EcorPort and Energy Star’, visit:
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