Inaugural E360 Forum Provides Important Exchange of Information
We recently held our very first E360 Forum in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss the refrigeration challenges facing the foodservice industry today. Judging by the number of attendees and the tenor of the conversations that took place, it is clear that our industry is seeking an outlet to discuss the impending regulatory changes and offer insights on how refrigerated system design will be impacted in the near future.
The event was kicked off with an informative keynote address about foodservice trends and equipment by Robin Ashton, president and publisher of Foodservice Equipment Reports. Mr. Ashton informed attendees that refrigeration makes up the largest segment of equipment in the foodservice market, and that while operators are extremely concerned about the Department of Energy’s upcoming efficiency regulations, energy efficiency itself is still not among the most important considerations when selecting equipment. Ashton did, however, forecast an upward cycle for the foodservice equipment market over the next few years.
Emerson’s Dr. Rajan Rajendran then took the floor to discuss the volatile state of refrigerant regulations. Rajan provided a brief history of refrigerant evolution, initially introduced by the Montreal Protocol to lower global warming potential (GWP) with the phase-down of HFC-based refrigerants, and most recently driven by the European Union’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motions to restrict GWP in refrigerants even further. In particular, the EPA will create a new ruling in 2015 as a part of its significant new alternatives proposal (SNAP) to delist some of the most common refrigerants in use today.
Rajan indicated that 404A will likely be delisted, and then explored what these changes mean to equipment design. Finally, he raised the question to which everyone is seeking an answer: “Which refrigerant will the industry use as a replacement?” While there is no one-size-fits all solution, the re-emergence of CO2, propane and other natural refrigerants, and the introduction of synthetic blends with similar pressure characteristics provide the hope for minimal system redesigns. Attendees were most concerned about the potential impacts to system design.
The two keynote addresses set the tone for the day’s remaining six breakout sessions. As topics ranged from retrofit strategies and meeting DOE energy compliance to CO2 system architecture and kitchen design trends, the regulatory landscape framed the discussions. Information was readily exchanged between moderators and attendees, and the event provided ample opportunities to ask questions and interact with peers. Clearly, not all questions could be answered and addressed in a day. But our intent to create an interactive dialogue to help define the path forward in refrigeration had been achieved
Our next E360 Forum will pick up the conversations where these left off. To be held at the Embassy Suites Anaheim — South on February 18 in Anaheim, California, these important discussions will take place in conjunction with the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) show starting on February 19. We hope to see you there. We need everyone’s contributions to help shape the future of refrigeration.