DENVER - The “Western Cooling Challenge,” sponsored by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, aims to accelerate the adoption of regionally appropriate cooling technologies for new and existing low-rise, nonresidential buildings. The program is designed to slash electricity use by rooftop air conditioners in the Western United States by more than 40 percent.

The concept was introduced at the first Retailer Energy Alliance Supplier Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Denver.

“Many Western states are hot and dry but use cooling systems that were designed for warm and humid climates,” said Dick Bourne, associate director of the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center. “With technologies specifically designed for the West, we can dramatically reduce the energy used to cool our buildings.”

According to Bourne, changing the cooling industry to pursue regional solutions is a challenge that will require partnering among many stakeholders.

“The UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center is stepping forward to organize this partnership,” he said. “Succeeding with this challenge offers major rewards for all parties: utilities, manufacturers, building owners, and the general public.”

The Western Cooling Challenge is a program of activities designed to help cooling-unit manufacturers deliver better products, and help building owners install and use those products.

The challenge includes voluntary, more demanding performance specifications for new rooftop cooling units; consultations with UC Davis experts for designers trying to meet those specifications; and a new certification of “Western Cooling Challenge Compliant” to help building owners identify the new units in the marketplace.

The center has long-term goals of substantially reducing the energy used for cooling in the West.

“With the Western Cooling Challenge, and its goal of reducing both energy use and peak demand from cooling by more than 40 percent, we are targeting a large market sector: the rooftop air conditioners that cool 70 percent of the floor area in nonresidential buildings in the Western United States,” said Bourne.

The target date of 2030 applies to the 11 large Western states with predominantly dry summer climates, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

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Publication date:06/09/2008