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Refrigerant Transition Gains Momentum

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

For over a decade, environmental advocates around the globe have recognized the need for the commercial refrigeration industry to make the transition from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to lower-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives. An HFC phase-down is well underway in many countries and regions, and today conditions are favorable for these efforts to increase within the U.S. I recently contributed to an ACHR The NEWS article where we discussed how recent developments may accelerate this refrigerant transition.

Recent regulatory developments in the U.S. have increased the likelihood the HFC phase-down will become a higher priority for equipment manufacturers, contractors, and food retailers. Among the greatest contributing factors include:

  • The inclusion of HFC phase-down legislation in the recent Omnibus and COVID relief bill
  • A new presidential administration with a greater commitment to environmental stewardship
  • Continued regulatory activities taking place at the state levels

All eyes on California

For several years, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been proposing regulations targeting HFC emissions reductions in commercial refrigeration equipment used within grocery stores. In 2019, CARB banned the use of R-404A in new or retrofit centralized systems. Last December, CARB finalized those regulations and established an enforcement date, beginning January 1, 2022. Details of the rulemaking impact new (or remodeled) and existing facilities:

  • A limit of 150 GWP for new or fully remodeled facilities in California that utilize commercial refrigeration equipment containing more than 50 pounds of refrigerant.
  • Existing food retail facilities with refrigeration systems charged with more than 50 pounds must collectively meet a 1,400 weighted average GWP or 55 percent greenhouse gas potential (GHGp) reduction relative to a 2019 baseline by 2030.

As a result (in California, at least), natural refrigerant-based systems — such as CO2 transcritical boosters — are often considered leading options for compliance in new facilities.

California’s new regulations, along with new developments in federal refrigerant regulations, will present opportunities for manufacturers who already developed lower-GWP solutions. To support these efforts, Emerson has been qualifying its compressor lines to use a variety of lower-GWP refrigerants for more than a decade. Also, we are developing full-system strategies — such as CO2-based technologies and our distributed scroll booster architecture — that leverage new refrigerant alternatives and enable the implementation of lower-GWP systems. In addition, for retailers in California, we developed smart tools to help them evaluate their store fleets and calculate how they can achieve CARB compliance.

Elsewhere, a growing coalition of states — the U.S. Climate Alliance — has vowed to follow California’s lead. These member states are also continuing to develop their own legislation to enforce HFC phase-down commitments.

New federal legislation could provide industry-wide consistency

While state-level regulations have pushed forward, the status of refrigerant rulemaking at the federal level has been stagnant for several years — particularly after a 2017 court ruling determining the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not have the authority to regulate HFCs under the Clean Air Act. But with the recent passage of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act) as part of the Omnibus and COVID relief bill, that may all soon change. The AIM Act restores the EPA’s authority to phase down the consumption and production of HFC refrigerants and establish sector-based limits.

As importantly, the new federal mandate will hopefully simplify the growing complexity of managing a multitude of state-led HFC phase-down initiatives. Ultimately, a federally-led refrigerant compliance program would provide much-needed guidance to the industry and remove the burden facing individual states. In addition, the industry could even see the adoption of new rulemaking from the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.

This uptick in regulatory activity will likely result in a busy period for HVACR contractors and food retailers around the country — particularly those in California who will be preparing for the CARB regulations to take effect next year. Emerson is committed to helping commercial refrigeration stakeholders in the U.S. and throughout the world achieve their refrigeration goals and make the transition to lower-GWP refrigerant alternatives.

[New Webinar] Make the Transition From E2 to E3

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solutions Business

Facility management and supervisory systems have become essential tools for managing food retail facilities and their critical refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems. To grow profit margins and achieve an ever-expanding list of operational and sustainability goals, retail operators must keep these systems running at peak performance and precisely optimized according to building occupancy schedules. In our next webinar, my Emerson colleague Sam Smith, director of product management, digital solutions, and I will discuss how upgrading from the industry-standard E2 to the new Lumity™ E3 supervisory control can help facility managers to achieve their goals while seamlessly running their day-to-day operations. This webinar will take place on Thursday, April 15 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT.

Supermarket and convenience store customers depend on their preferred retailers to consistently deliver the high-quality, fresh and safe food offerings that they’ve come to expect. In addition to providing a comprehensive food selection, a retailer’s ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences in all aspects of their operation — from comfortable in-store temperatures to welcoming lighting — is part of what can differentiate them from their competition.

At the same time, store operators need to keep a close eye on other factors that can impact their bottom lines, such as refrigeration system performance, energy and other utility consumption levels, store lighting and occupancy schedules, refrigerant leak detection and much more. Establishing connectivity among critical systems via a building management system (BMS) and smart controls is essential to enable real-time visibility into all these key parameters of success.

That’s why Emerson is pleased to introduce the Lumity E3 supervisory control — the next generation in facility management and refrigeration controls. The E3 greatly expands upon the widely adopted E2 with more power, robust control capabilities, faster speeds and seamless connectivity. The E3 is powered by Emerson’s new Lumity supervisory control software and gives end users an intuitive touch-screen display on-site and a web-friendly interface for remote accessibility.

In our upcoming webinar — which is designed for end-users, contractors and OEMs — we will demonstrate how this significant upgrade places advanced control over compressor groups, condensers, walk-in units, HVAC and lighting systems at their fingertips.

Attendees will learn:

  • New features and functionalities of the Lumity supervisory control platform
  • How Lumity supervisory control software brings all of Emerson’s supervisory control devices under one software interface
  • Why the E3 was designed as a true drop-in replacement of the E2
  • How to gain instant visibility to all key systems, faults, statuses, and alarms
  • How the Lumity supervisory control platform enables control of critical systems with advanced refrigeration algorithms, building control strategies and network connectivity

Register now for this informative and free webinar and visit our website at Emerson.com/E3 to learn more.

 

Pandemic Creates Lasting Impact on Food Retailers and Commercial Refrigeration

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

The year 2020 was an inflection point for the food retail industry. While many restaurants closed for in-person dining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, supermarkets and other food retailers were considered essential businesses and remained open. But for those responsible for these operations, this meant quickly adapting to new fulfillment scenarios, as many shoppers sought online grocery-ordering options such as curbside pickup and/or home delivery. I recently contributed to an ACHR The NEWS article where we discussed how the events of 2020 changed the food retail landscape and will continue to impact the commercial refrigeration industry in 2021 and beyond.

Online Retail Drives Refrigeration Decisions

As vaccine distribution increases and the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully recedes, the impacts of the pandemic will be felt well into the future. From a food retail perspective, the acceleration of e-commerce adoption appears to have permanently altered consumers’ buying behaviors and shifted the retail landscape.

According to a 2020 study by grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research firm Incisiv, the growth rate of online grocery retail is expected to make up 21.5% of all grocery sales by 2025, representing a more than 60% increase compared pre-pandemic projections. As consumers continue to embrace both click-and-collect and home delivery options, many leading food retailers are rethinking their refrigeration strategies and expanding their fulfillment capabilities to meet both near-term and long-term projections.

The sheer volume of e-commerce sales took many food retailers by surprise in 2020 and has led them to take steps to shore up their online order fulfillment infrastructures. These include investments in additional refrigeration equipment and cold storage space — whether for in-house, click-and-collect operations, micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) or even dark stores.

In addition, many retailers are evaluating their existing systems to determine if there’s available capacity to potentially tap into. Where there is not, distributed strategies such as stand-alone condensing units or self-contained cold storage are ideal solutions for creating additional refrigeration capacity. Of course, any new system designs or major retrofits will require more thorough consideration with respect to how these systems would align with retailers’ long-term sustainability goals.

It’s also important for contractors to continue playing a key role in helping retailers to make these decisions. They must be prepared with the knowledge and expertise in order to advise retailers on all the available short- and long-term refrigeration strategies — from self-contained propane cases to full CO2 systems to more distributed equipment architectures.

Cold Chain Data Tracking, Monitoring and Control

Another likely permanent impact will be the increased collective focus on cold chain tracking, monitoring and data analytics. Vaccine distribution challenges have highlighted the importance of monitoring product temperatures during transit – similar to the cold chain journey for food.

The adoption of temperature tracking, monitoring and control technologies used for the vaccines will likely accelerate the integration of these tools within the food cold chain — from farm to fork. This presents an opportunity to improve the working relationships, cooperation and technologies among producers, shippers and retailers to create an unbroken chain of temperature certainty throughout the food cold chain.

With supermarkets becoming one-stop shops for essential consumer needs — from freshly prepared and perishable foods to dry goods, pharmaceuticals and mini health care clinics — retailers have a variety of data streams strictly related to temperatures that they need to manage and monitor in order to preserve food quality and safety, as well as ensure proper vaccine storage. They also need to continuously track and monitor the performance of essential equipment and systems such as refrigeration, HVAC and lighting.

Fortunately, technological improvements and increased adoption of the internet of things (IoT) are giving supermarkets the abilities to capture, access, interpret and analyze data to deliver higher-value facility management solutions. Emerson’s Lumity™ supervisory control platform is designed to aggregate these data streams into consolidated views and provide insights to help retailers simplify their increasing facility management challenges.

From the perspectives of cold chain management, power management, equipment performance and preventative maintenance, we’re helping supermarket operators to bring all these aspects together within one cloud and one view — with robust data analytics to provide insights into each of these critical areas.

Introducing Copeland™ Variable Speed Reciprocating Hermetic Compressors for Refrigeration

Derek Langenkamp | Product Manager, Hermetic Reciprocating

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

Making equipment design changes to meet increasing energy efficiency standards is nothing new for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the commercial refrigeration space. For quite some time, the medium- and low-temperature, stand-alone coolers and freezers commonly used in restaurants, convenience stores (C-stores) and small-format food retailers have been key targets of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy efficiency mandates. Because highly efficient compression technologies are among the few design options left to help OEMs meet these targets, Emerson is pleased to announce its Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line designed specifically for this purpose. For full details, you can read our latest E360 Product Spotlight.

While our industry expects that the DOE will soon be proposing its next phase-down in energy reductions for these applications — which are likely to take effect in 2024 — the need for highly reliable, energy-efficient compressors extends well beyond commercial refrigeration. In fact, OEMs in the environmental life sciences, medical and pharmaceutical industries can also benefit from the high efficiency and reliable performance of the Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line. In addition, many OEMs are also seeking a competitive edge by offering equipment that achieves ENERGY STAR® certification. The range of applications across these industries includes:

  • Medium- and low-temperature stand-alone refrigerators and freezers, including ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers
  • Island cases
  • Display cases
  • Ice machines
  • Food prep tables
  • Medical equipment
  • Process chillers

Superior energy efficiency and refrigeration performance

Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressors are designed to deliver significant efficiency and performance improvements for commercial refrigeration reach-in OEMs. This low-profile, variable speed solution is comprised of two components:

  1. Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor — available in ranges from ⅛ to ⅞ HP; featuring a brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motor vs. a standard induction motor
  2. Variable speed (VS) drive with a smart controller — includes serial, frequency and drop-in modes; drop-in mode serves as the system controller

Standalone, reach-in freezer optimized and tested with Emerson components and controls, under EPA-approved test lab for the ENERGY STAR® program per ASHRAE 72 and DOE energy testing requirements showed:

  • System efficiency increased by 13% by replacing fixed speed compressor with variable speed solution
  • Compressor cycling reduced by 90%
  • Compression ratio relaxed by as much as 43%
  • Manufacturer exceeds ENERGY STAR performance levels
  • Utilizes a future-oriented, low-GWP natural refrigerant

For end users of this enhanced refrigeration equipment, these efficiencies can result in:

  • Faster pull-downs to setpoint temperatures
  • More precise temperature holding
  • Less wear and tear on system components
  • Lower energy bills

In addition, the breadth of the Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line gives system design engineers a variety of compressor options with which to achieve significant energy efficiency improvements for refrigeration equipment of varying types and sizes.

The regulatory advantages of R-290

The Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line is designed to utilize R-290, a natural refrigerant, with an ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) of 3. This allows OEMs to offer their customers a refrigeration option that meets some of the most stringent refrigerant and energy efficiency regulations to date, such as:

  1. Potential impending DOE 2024 standard
  2. California Air Resources Board (CARB)
  3. Potential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refrigerant requirements
  4. ENERGY STAR® certification

Emerson’s test labs have confirmed that the use of R-290 in variable speed compressors can deliver superior annual energy efficiency ratio (EER) ratings compared to using R-404A in a fixed-speed compressor.

Helping OEMs meet DOE 2024 and beyond

The estimated timeline for the DOE’s next phase-down in commercial refrigeration equipment energy consumption is 2024. If current equipment does not meet DOE requirements, most OEMs will soon need to integrate new components into their next design cycle to comply with the next generation of energy reduction mandates.

The Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line delivers the energy efficiency levels that will help your equipment meet the upcoming DOE requirements — all while giving your customers the reliability and performance improvements they’ll need to succeed. With our extensive design and testing resources, Emerson can help to guide you through this transition. We’re ready to help you meet the next round of DOE efficiency standards and beyond — and achieve the ENERGY STAR® certification to differentiate you from your competitors. Visit our website to learn more about the Copeland variable speed reciprocating hermetic compressor line.

 

[E360 Webinar Wrap-up] Refrigerant Rulemaking Recap: Regulatory Uptick Expected for 2021

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

 

The commercial refrigeration and air conditioning sectors are currently experiencing an active period of refrigerant rulemaking. As we move through the first quarter of 2021, our industry is evaluating a variety of regulatory activities and climate initiatives — at both the state and federal levels — that govern the transition to lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and the safe use of flammable alternatives. I recently co-hosted an E360 webinar with Jennifer Butsch, Emerson’s regulatory affairs director, to discuss current developments and explore their potential impacts on our industry. We were joined by Helen Walter-Terrinoni, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

As global regulatory efforts to phase down the use of HFC refrigerants continue in earnest, the transition to alternatives with lower GWP is gaining momentum in the U.S. At the state level, California is preparing for its next phase of rulemaking, while more U.S. Climate Alliance states leverage the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rules 20 and 21 as the bases for their own environmental initiatives. In addition, a new presidential administration and the passing of new federal legislation represent significant shifts in U.S. regulatory dynamics — resuming our global participation in combating climate change and giving the EPA authority to govern HFCs.

But the progression of refrigerant rulemaking along both state and federal lines continues to create complexity for an industry that seeks guidance in understanding and applying an ever-evolving, complex mix of regulations.

California Air Resources Board (CARB) Seeks to Finalize Proposals

In 2019, California was the first state to adopt EPA SNAP Rules 20 and 21 in their entirety. Since then, CARB has developed additional proposals to meet its stated 2030 emissions-reduction targets. For commercial refrigeration, these proposed refrigerant regulations target the installation of new refrigeration systems greater than 50lbs:

  • 150 GWP limit for systems installed in new facilities
  • In existing facilities, food retailers must choose from one of the following company-wide reduction targets:
    • Reduce their weighted average GWP below 1,400
    • Achieve a 55% or greater reduction in their greenhouse gas potential (GHGp) below 2019 baseline levels by 2030
  • Other GWP limits for systems in existing facilities include a 750 limit for ice rinks and a 1500 – 2000 limit for industrial refrigeration

In air conditioning applications, the CARB proposal targets a 750 GWP limit across multiple end uses in the coming years:

  • 2023: room AC and dehumidifiers
  • 2024: AC chillers (consistent with SNAP Rule 21)
  • 2025: residential and commercial AC
  • 2026: variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems

CARB has also introduced its Refrigerant Recycle, Recovery and Reuse (R4) program, which proposes new air conditioning equipment in 2023 and 2024 to use reclaimed R-410A refrigerant in an amount equal to 10% of equipment operating charge in California. In addition, CARB has stated that it will expand its R4 program by introducing new rulemaking this year.

U.S. Climate Alliance States Adopt Legislation

Among the 25 member states that have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, nine have finalized legislation for adopting SNAP Rules 20 and 21 into law. Like the original EPA rules, the timings of enforcement dates are end-use specific and designed to be phased in over several years. But because the start dates of these rules differ among the nine member states, our industry faces an increasingly complex patchwork of compliance schedules.

As Walter-Terrinoni pointed out in the webinar, the prospect of new federal legislation may give these and other states the option to pursue a consistent, nationwide approach to the refrigeration phase-down. States could place their focus on the local level, where they can further the advancement of building codes and safety standards.

Federal HFC Phase-down Takes AIM

Regulatory activity is also picking up at the federal level, starting with the EPA’s proposed SNAP Rule 23, which reaffirms its commitment to approve low-GWP refrigerants. The proposal lists several mildly flammable (A2L) refrigerants, including R-452B, R-454A, R-454B, R-454C, R-457 and R-32 as acceptable, subject to use conditions in new residential and light commercial air conditioners and heat pumps. For retail food refrigeration — medium-temperature, stand-alone units — SNAP Rule 23 lists A1 refrigerants R-448A, R-449A and R-449B as acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits. Emerson and other industry stakeholders have asked for further clarification on these restrictions, as these A1s have already been listed as acceptable without limitations in many other commercial refrigeration applications.

As part of major pandemic relief legislation, the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act was passed and signed into law in late 2020. This legislation gives the EPA the authority to phase down HFC production and consumption limits in a manner consistent with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol within nine months. It also authorizes the EPA to regulate HFCs through sector based rulemaking and establish standards for HFC management — servicing, repair, recover, recycle and reclaim — similar to CARB’s R4 program. This is welcome news for our industry, as it paves the way for a federally guided, low-GWP refrigerant transition, which would minimize the complexities of differing state-led regulations.

Under the new Biden administration, the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Agreement and is taking steps to ratify the Kigali Amendment. These are among many early indications of this administration’s commitment to combat climate change at home and abroad.

A2L, A3 Standards and Codes Progress

With the industry moving toward the use of flammable A2L and A3 refrigerants to achieve lower-GWP goals, the technical committees and governing bodies who provide guidelines on how to safely use these refrigerants and related equipment are currently updating their safety standards. Among the updates that many are closely watching are the proposed changes to the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) 60335-2-89 standard, which would increase the charge limits in self-contained and remote refrigeration applications. While the industry expects this proposal potentially to be finalized by the end of the year, it’s important to remember that once established, these standards will take several years to make their way into the building codes and local standards needed to permit the widespread use of flammable refrigerants.

To learn more details about each of these important regulatory developments, please view our on-demand webinar.

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