Frequently Asked Questions about the ATLETE II project, its goals and activities (click on the questions for the answers)

What does ATLETE stands for?

Why is it important to test the energy efficiency and water consumption of washing machines?

What’s the impact of these EU regulations and do we know if manufacturers comply?

What are the main objectives of the ATLETE II project?

Is ATLETE II a second project in a row? What was the focus and results of the first one?

Isn’t it the role of national market surveillance Authorities to check the conformity of products placed on the Community market?

Who are the project participants and supporters?

Does this mean that washing machine manufacturers are involved in the project?

Is the project consortium receiving external advice to perform its activities?

How is the project funded?

Are the washing machine models to be verified representative of the market?

What will be done with the project results?

If some of the tested models prove to be non-compliant with the law, what happens?

Beyond the test results themselves, is the project going to be helpful to increase the quality of testing methods in the future?

Where can I find a short description of the project?

 

What does ATLETE stands for?

ATLETE stands for Appliance Testing for Energy Label & Evaluation. ATLETE II is a 30-month European project related to verifying the Energy Labelling declarations and compliance with Ecodesign Regulation of household washing machines on the EU market. This label and this Regulation relate particularly to the energy efficiency and water consumption of these products. The project started in May 2012.

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Why is it important to test the energy efficiency and water consumption of washing machines?

Washing machines are the second most important appliance installed in European households. It is estimated that domestic washing machines in the EU consumed as much as 35 TWh of electricity in 2005. The production of this electricity is on average responsible for as much CO2 emissions as 7 million cars. Studies have also shown that the energy efficiency is one of the most important purchasing criteria for consumers, along with functional performances.

The European Union has recently adopted Regulations related to the energy efficiency, water consumption and functional performance of household washing machines. Washing machines placed on the market must comply with the requirements in these Regulations. They set in particular:

  • a revised way of displaying to consumers the energy efficiency and functional performance of models through a new Energy Label in shops
  • minimum requirements for the energy efficiency, water consumption and washing performance of washing machines (Ecodesign Regulation)
  • additional mandatory requirements related for instance to the presence of a cold-wash program, the information provided in the user booklet, etc.

Details on these Regulations can be found on:

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/ecodesign/eco_design_en.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/labelling/labelling_en.htm

It is essential that the parameters declared by manufacturers on the Energy Label and for compliance with the regulatory requirements are robustly and regularly verified, in order to build trust in these EU policies and avoid false declarations. This is all the more important as the standard describing the testing method to measure the energy and water consumption and the other functional performance of household washing machines has been revised recently. This new standard better accounts for the real life use of the product, considering for the first time different loads, washing temperatures and energy consumption in stand-by.

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What’s the impact of these EU regulations and do we know if manufacturers comply?

The Regulations mentioned above should save 2 TWh of electricity per year by 2020. This is worth € 300 million of savings on Europeans’ energy bills every year. However, if manufacturer declarations on the Energy Label and for conformity with Ecodesign requirements are not sufficiently controlled by the appropriate national or regional Authorities, the level of non-compliance could be higher and jeopardise these savings. At the moment, we don’t have a comprehensive statistical overview of the level of non-compliance in the EU. Just as an illustration, a level of non-compliance at a level such that 10 to 15% of the expected savings would be lost would translate into an additional energy loss of 300 GWh/year corresponding to the emission of 130,000 tons of CO2. Hence the importance of testing and verifying compliance. 

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What are the main objectives of the ATLETE II project?

The basic goal of the project is to undertake a large pan-European compliance verification campaign for all parameters at the basis of the EU Energy Labelling and Ecodesign Regulations for domestic washing machines, in order to:

  • verify the adequateness of values declared by manufacturers on the energy label and for compliance with legal minimum requirements,
  • identify potential concerns and ambiguities in how the test conditions described in the measurement standard are applied by laboratories,
  • summarise the lessons learned and recommendations from the project in guidelines to support market surveillance authorities in their own compliance verification activities.

The project consortium will ensure transparent and high quality selection of the models to be tested and the laboratories conducting the tests. All results will be made public (when all tests are completed) and dissemination activities are planned to stakeholders such as market surveillance authorities, EU decision-makers, manufacturers, civil society organisations, media and all interested individuals.

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Is ATLETE II a second project in a row? What was the focus and results of the first one?

Yes, it is. The first ATLETE project was conducted from 2009 to 2011 and focused on testing household refrigerating appliances (refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers). Some 80 models have been tested to check their compliance with EU Ecodesign regulation and Energy Labelling declarations. 79% of the tested models have proven compliance with their energy labelling class, however as much as 57% of the models did not comply with at least one of the tested parameters (including also for instance the declared volume, the storage temperature, etc). The project methodology, list of tests and laboratories, the results of all tested appliances and lessons learned and recommendations for policy-makers are available on the ATLETE I project website http://www.atlete.eu/index.php

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Isn’t it the role of national market surveillance Authorities to check the conformity of products placed on the Community market?

Legally speaking, it is indeed the role of national (and sometimes regional) market surveillance Authorities in the 27 EU Member States to verify product compliance to the EU legal provisions and take the appropriate action if a product is non-compliant.

In ATLETE II, our intention is not to bypass national market surveillance Authorities and responsibilities. However, these Authorities have still limited experience and human/financial resources and are also responsible for a large number of product regulations. In practice, only few market surveillance actions on household washing machines are conducted each year. In addition, the results of such actions are not necessarily publicised, and the collaboration between Member States market surveillance Authorities is only at a starting point.

The ATLETE II project is supported by the European Commission to provide a prompt and unique momentum to boost market surveillance and to give a comprehensive picture of the situation for household washing machines. Its results will be precious for promoting and supporting future market surveillance activities.

The ATLETE II project will also include a survey of the current level of market surveillance and laboratory testing activities in most EU Member States, and all ATLETE II own verification activities and test reports obtained from laboratories will be made available to all relevant Authorities.

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Who are the project participants and supporters?

The ATLETE II project has 11 formal partners, and their list is available here:

http://www.atlete.eu/2/partners

The consortium members rank from national energy or similar Agencies (Italian, French, Austrian), to manufacturer Association (CECED), non-governmental organisations (ECOS, ICRT, ECEEE), universities (Bonn), market surveillance Agency (Sweden) and independent experts (ISIS, SEVEn).

This wide range of organisations in the consortium ensures that all aspects of the compliance verification and evaluation procedures will be fully taken into account and that all relevant stakeholders will be fully informed and involved in the project activities. 

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Does this mean that washing machine manufacturers are involved in the project?

Manufacturers are indeed indirectly involved through the participation of their EU federation CECED, but no individual manufacturer is directly partner in the project. The participation of other partners such as public bodies and non-governmental organisations will ensure full transparency of the methodology and results, as well as neutrality of the project from any private influence.

Manufacturers whose models will be tested within the ATLETE II project will be allowed to comment on the test procedures and results, accept test results (even already after the test of the first unit), and will be invited to undertake a remedy action in case of a suspected non-compliance. This has already proven successful in the first ATLETE project on refrigerating appliances.

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Is the project consortium receiving external advice to perform its activities?

An International Advisory Committee has been established to provide guidance and comments on the project activities and methodology. This forum already existed for the previous ATLETE project and has proven worthwhile. Its participants consists of representatives of market surveillance Authorities, national energy Agencies and non-profit organisations. 

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How is the project funded?

Market surveillance of energy efficiency Regulations for products is a priority of the European Union. 75% of the project is funded by the European Commission through the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme (see http://ec.europa.eu/energy/intelligent/). The Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) - in charge of this program - will monitor the advancement of the project. The remaining 25% are provided by each partner of the project.

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Are the washing machine models to be verified representative of the market?

ATLETE II will use a ‘semi-random’ approach to select the models to be verified during the project. The market will first be divided into interval market segments (based on the selling levels) - from the segment of best sellers to the segment of least sellers. In each of these segments, some washing machine models will be randomly selected by an external notary. This approach ensures that all market segments are represented in the testing sample, and that no manufacturer could escape the selection process. All details about the selection method, including the list of the models to be tested will be published on the website:

http://www.atlete.eu/2/models selection   

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What will be done with the project results?

All results will be published, from the methodology of selecting laboratories and models to the full results of each individual test. At the end of the project, all individual test reports for all models tested will be disclosed, including an analysis of the results. These results will be published on the project website, circulated to all relevant EU stakeholders, and to the public. 

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If some of the tested models prove to be non-compliant with the law, what happens?

ATLETE II and its partners have no authority for a legal follow up against non-compliant models and their manufacturers. Also, the laboratory tests conducted within the project have no legal value, since only tests commissioned by a national market surveillance Authority can lead to a legal non-compliance verdict and following formal actions.

However, manufacturers of models suspected to be non-compliant or whose non-compliance has been proven will be contacted by the project consortium and invited to take voluntary remedy action. Since in the end all verification activities and laboratory test results will be made publicly available, along with the reaction of the manufacturers, they will be under threat of a formal intervention of national Authorities, as well as a potential negative image in the media.

It has to be reminded that all test results will be immediately forwarded to the market surveillance Authority of the country where the specific models are expected to be sold, in order to inform them and allow for a timely legal reaction. 

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Beyond the test results themselves, is the project going to be helpful to increase the quality of testing methods in the future?

Within the ATLETE II project, it is also planned to organise a specific comparison of the test results from different laboratories on a same model (round robin test), in order to better understand testing variability and potential deviations in the way the measurement method conditions are applied.

The project team will also elaborate a template test report, ensuring that data and test procedure descriptions received from individual laboratories have the same format and content.

These activities will contribute to improving testing practice in the field of household washing machines, as well as providing useful feed-back to EU decision-makers and standardisation bodies in charge of updating testing protocols.

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Where can I find a short description of the project?

www.atlete.eu/2/doc/AtleteII_Project-overview.pdf

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Contact for more information:

www.atlete.eu/2/contact-us

Stefano Faberi, coordinator

ISIS - Institute of Studies

for the Integration of

Systems, Italy

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.isis-it.com