Ecodesign and Compliance

Maria Penttilä helps Ensto’s product managers understand what must be done to comply with EU’s Ecodesign Directives.

The regulation that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The European Union’s new Ecodesign Directive consists of 26 pages devoted to improving the energy performance of products that consume energy.

The directive is called Ecodesign, because these EU-wide rules will intervene in the design stage of product development in order to reduce energy usage of an entire array of consumer items, including refrigerators, televisions, and fans, plus non-consumer items such as street- and office lighting.

“A full 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined in the design stage,” says Maria Penttilä, Technology Development Engineer with Ensto whose responsibilities include Ecodesign.

Penttilä’s role is twofold: First, to be Ensto’s active voice in Finnish and EU bodies which influence Ecodesign regulations, and second, to help Ensto’s product managers understand what must be done to comply with the rules that will eventually become law.

Ecodesign at Ensto

Although part of the final wording of the Ecodesign regulations is still being debated, the broad strokes are clear. Ensto heaters, thermostats, ventilation units, and luminaires will all be somehow impacted.

Penttilä says Ensto’s smaller ventilation units are so efficient that no changes at all are required, though slight changes will be made in the design for bigger ventilation units intended for non-residential use.

Ecodesign regulations for electric heaters put Ensto in an interesting situation. The EU calculates efficiency of heaters in a complex fashion, which incorporates a variable called the energy factor, which has both energy- and political components. Since Finland produces energy far more efficiently than most countries – thanks to its combined heat and power plants – it has an actual energy factor of 1.7. But unlike renewable energy directives, the Ecodesign Directive is not flexible, and Ensto is forced to use the EU standard energy factor of 2.5. This means Ensto panel heaters, which convert almost all electricity to heat, will be made even more efficient.

This efficiency will be gained by phasing out heaters with electronic thermostats by 2018 in the EU and making panel heaters smarter. “The heaters must for example know if the homeowners are away, or be programmable along a timetable,” says Penttilä. “We’re in a redesign process right now and are making them more efficient as fast as we can.”

Ecodesign regulations bring more sales?

Ecodesign is not just about reducing energy usage – it also seeks to remove obstacles to international trade. Theoretically, the regulations should benefit both businesses and consumers by enhancing product quality and environmental protection and by facilitating free movement of goods throughout the EU by elimination of disparate national legislation.

So how will the new regulations impact Ensto’s business?

In a strict sense, Ensto’s heaters are already some of the most efficient available anywhere. After redesign, they’ll be even more competitive.
Concerning ventilation units, Penttilä believes Ensto’s market position will be strengthened even more when competitors’ inefficient units are no longer for sale. She is quick to add, however, that other factors more directly affect market share.

Still, the regulation that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Ecodesign regulations are only in keeping with Ensto’s motto, Saves Your Energy!

A full 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined in the design stage.


Author: Scott Diel