WASHINGTON - Commercial refrigeration manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates announced that they have reached an agreement on consensus federal equipment efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator freezers such as those used in restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, and other commercial buildings.

The agreement still needs to be enacted by federal regulators and Congress to become a minimum efficiency standard. Proponents said the agreement is in the process of being provided to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and members of Congress in anticipation of potential inclusion in new energy efficiency legislation.

The energy savings would be the equivalent to avoiding the need for two new 300 MW power plants, according to a joint statement from the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The statement said currently there are no federal minimum efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator freezers. Under the agreement, the signatories are jointly recommending to Congress such minimum standards for most self-contained refrigeration equipment and beverage coolers. The new standards are based on energy-efficiency ratios, but are not as basic as the SEER ratings used for air conditioning equipment. The refrigeration standards vary and are based on size and volume of equipment, officials said.

Officials did say the new standards are "pushing the envelope" and creating higher efficiencies than what had been the case with equipment up until now.

In addition, the agreement calls for legislation requiring that the DOE establish efficiency standards for ice-cream freezers, self-contained cabinets without doors, and remote condensing products. The manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates noted that they will attempt to develop consensus recommendations to address all of the statutory criteria that the department is required to take into account in realizing energy efficiency standards for covered equipment, according to the statement.

The agreement was negotiated over 15 months by commercial refrigeration manufacturers, represented by ARI, and by energy efficiency supporters, represented by ACEEE.

"This agreement represents a win for the environment, for consumers, and for manufacturers" said William Sutton, ARI president. "The agreement gives manufacturers regulatory certainty to develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase out the use of HCFC refrigerants."

"Appliance efficiency standards have been one of the U.S.'s most effective energy-saving policies with the majority of standards developed through consensus negotiations," said Steven Nadel, executive director of ACEEE. "This agreement shows the benefits of working together, and we hope and anticipate that additional product efficiency standards can be negotiated in the future."

In addition to ARI and ACEEE, other signatories to the agreement include Alliance to Save Energy, Appliance Standards Awareness Project, Baker Co. Ltd., Beverage-Air, California Energy Commission, Continental Refrigeration, Environment Northeast, Hill Phoenix, Hussmann Corp., Kysor/Warren, McCall Refrigeration, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Structural Concepts, and Zero Zone Inc.

For more information on ARI, visit www.ari.org. For more information on ACEEE, visit www.aceee.org.

Publication date: 04/11/2005