Another Year — Another Impressive Result for Voluntary Energy Initiatives

It’s that time again! Its annual report season for three very important voluntary energy efficiency initiatives in the US and Canada:

  • The award-winning US Set-top Box Voluntary Agreement (US STB VA)
  • The US Small Network Equipment Voluntary Agreement (US SNE VA)
  • The Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement (CEEVA) for Set-top Boxes

What are voluntary agreements and why are they important?

Voluntary agreements are a collaborative industry initiative to reduce energy consumption and impact sustainability that result in energy savings much faster than other approaches, including direct government intervention. Voluntary agreements provide the flexibility to innovate on the platforms, drive efficiency gains and improve consumer experiences. All three voluntary agreements demonstrate the industry commitment to sustainability both in the US and Canada.

Here are some highlights for each agreement:

US Set-top Box Voluntary Agreement

The US Voluntary Agreement (VA) for Set-top Boxes released its fifth annual report last week, and the independent administrator, D+R International, found that the VA has far exceeded the original $1 billion annual savings estimations for the VA.

  • In 2017 alone, the VA saved 11 terawatt hours (TWh) and saved consumers $1.4 billion dollars!
  • Over the 5 years of the VA, it has saved a total of 27.8 TWh of energy and over $3.5 billion dollars for consumers.
  • 8 TWh equates to CO2 avoidance of 20.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, the same as 4.4 million passenger cars driven for one year!

It’s worth noting that back in 2013 the Department of Energy was also working on a regulation for STB energy consumption, but terminated those proceedings in favor of this voluntary agreement. A regulation would not have gone into effect until 2018, and the VA has already saved nearly 30 TWh of energy during that timeframe!

In March of this year, the STB VA was renewed for another 4 years and established a more stringent set of allowances (Tier 3) that will achieve at least another 20% in energy savings.

Small Network Equipment Voluntary Agreement

The US Small Network Equipment VA third annual report found that energy efficiency trends are continuing as well. The SNE VA doesn’t have a national footprint estimate, but rather tracks the average weighted energy consumption of device categories relative to the increasing average broadband speeds. The most impressive aspect of the SNE industry is the continued growth in broadband speeds as well as in-home network support (e.g. better Wi-Fi, faster internet speeds) while continuing to deliver energy-efficient devices.

These figures were calculated by dividing the average idle power of each equipment category by the average connection speed for that year reported in the Akamai Q1 State of the Internet reports.

The other big news is the SNE VA was extended for another four years, with the timeframe aligned with the STB VA. The renewed SNE VA will run through 2021 with a final report to be published in 2022. It also defined a more rigorous Tier 2 set of allowances for SNE that will go into effect in 2020.

Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement

The Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement for Set-top Boxes (CEEVA), released their inaugural annual report, and their savings are on track as well.

For 2017, STBs were required to comply with Tier 1 levels (the same Tier 1 as used in the US), and a full 100% of all new STBs purchased during the year met these levels.

The more demanding Tier 2 allowances went into effect for CEEVA at the beginning of 2018, but the report found that 86.4% of the 2017 units purchased already met Tier 2 levels. As this was the first year for the VA, the reported data will be used as a baseline for the following years’ reports.

CableLabs’ Leadership

CableLabs led the technical efforts for all of these voluntary agreements and is continuously innovating and researching new ways to reduce energy consumption in the network and consumer products. CableLabs and its subsidiary, Kyrio, are also ISO-17025 accredited to conduct the energy testing of set-top boxes and small network equipment and has supported this testing for a large number of signatories across the industry. We are proud to be part of these important initiatives which are saving energy, the environment, and money for consumers.

Want to Learn More?

CableLabs is hosting an Inform[ed] Webinar on this topic next week, August 22, at 11 AM EST. In our 2nd ever public webinar, Mark Hess, Senior Vice President of Comcast, and Doug Johnson, Vice President of the Consumer Technology Association, are joining me to discuss the details of the voluntary agreements above. We’ll demonstrate how collaborative industry-led initiatives have led to significant consumer savings, innovative new features, and a cleaner environment.

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Our mission is to create a powerful innovation engine that develops life altering technologies that move communities and industries toward more connected tomorr

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