The Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Energy Star® program in 1992 as a way to identify energy-efficient and environmentally acceptable products. Large unitary manufacturers used the program first in the HVACR industry. The distinctive logo began turning up on equipment at a number of industry trade shows.

The scope of Energy Star has grown over the years. Today it includes partners such as service and product providers who "can help identify, prioritize and implement quality products that will improve your total management," according to a statement on the Energy Star Web site (

In such cases, it is not just the product itself that gets the label, but the services provided. A recent example of such a company is Hudson Technologies (

Back in 1991, the company patented the ZugiBeast® refrigerant reclamation machine, which was brought to sites with large mechanical refrigeration equipment. That was a time when many other companies were making recovery units so small, they seemed designed more to satisfy EPA requirements that such a product be in the contractor's arsenal than for actual recovery ability. The ZugiBeast was the polar opposite, a big machine that could deal with big refrigerant recovery/reclaim situations.

But Hudson didn't just stay a refrigerant reclamation and recovery company. During the 1990s, the company introduced RefrigerantSide® Services offerings that combined the company's engineering and chemistry capabilities with onsite refrigerant decontamination.

In 2003, the company developed a Performance Optimization Program to improve the efficiency of industrial and commercial refrigeration systems. The program uses a computer model to determine component as well as overall chiller system efficiency. Hudson then integrated Performance Optimization with RefrigerantSide to improve operations of customers' refrigeration systems.

Hudson chief executive officer Kevin Zugibe said the evolution came about because visits to jobsites to deal with refrigerant issues caused its engineers to wonder about all the variables in a large refrigeration system that may affect efficiencies. The result was the building of the computer model (with the help of DuPont) to look at a range of variables.

In one instance, Zugibe said, the program helped figure out a way to use waste steam to power an absorption unit.

Zugibe said end users and contractors alike contact Hudson for services. Contractors understand that Hudson shows areas where efficiencies can be improved, but the company doesn't do repairs or make upgrades. That's up to the contractor, and it can result in billable service by the contractor.

While Energy Star is a voluntary program, Zugibe said it is a positive for Hudson because of the large number of HVACR companies, both unitary and component manufacturers, who also carry the label and because there is a positive perception about Energy Star among end users.

"Our goal," he said, "will be to help industrial and commercial entities identify energy-efficient solutions that provide significant savings while protecting the environment."

The message here is that the Energy Star logo may be turning up in more and more contexts. And that should tell you that energy savings is utmost in the minds of those companies displaying the logo.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 06/06/2005