WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has received the first official submission by a manufacturer to a voluntary challenge for a new generation of high-efficiency cost-effective air conditioners for commercial buildings. The department will begin testing the new Daikin McQuay’s Rebel unit from McQuay International to determine whether it meets the high energy-efficiency performance levels outlined by the challenge. The challenge aims to reduce energy use by as much as 50 to 60 percent over current equipment and is part of DOE’s broad efforts to partner with industry in support of innovative building technologies that will reduce energy use, save money, and increase American competitiveness.

“Investing in energy-efficient products for commercial buildings and factories is one of the most cost-effective ways for businesses to save money and compete in the global marketplace,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The department is proud to have helped bring together buyers and manufacturers to identify these energy-saving targets and to make clear the demand for very high performance units. I’m excited to see manufacturers raising the performance bar to meet the genuine demand for energy-saving commercial air conditioners.”

The new performance criteria and challenge were developed through DOE’s Commercial Building Energy Alliance. DOE brought together major U.S. companies representing a significant portion of the U.S. market, to develop new performance criteria for 10-ton capacity commercial air conditioners, also known as rooftop units or RTUs. Participating companies have shared their intent to purchase equipment that meets the challenge. Entrants to the challenge, including the Daikin McQuay unit, will undergo testing by the department in partnership with its Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Lab.

Commercial buildings currently account for 18 percent of U.S. energy use. Nationwide, if all the 10-ton commercial units currently sold in a given year were built using these criteria, businesses could save about $50 million a year in energy costs, said the DOE.

Publication date: 10/24/2011