In 2020, the Department of Energy (DOE) will begin enforcing its new energy-efficiency standards on walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). With the compliance deadline now on the horizon, the commercial refrigeration supply chain is taking a closer look at the ruling and preparing for its impacts. Our next E360 Webinar, on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, will shed light on the details of this rulemaking.
Improving the energy efficiency of refrigeration equipment is a goal shared by most stakeholders in the commercial refrigeration supply chain. But when specific energy reductions are mandated by DOE regulations on a commonly used class of equipment, then these goals take on a much greater sense of urgency. The DOE’s 2020 WICF mandate is no exception.
Generally speaking, the ruling will require 20–40 percent energy reductions in WICFs smaller than 3,000 square feet. But, like many regulations of this kind, when you start digging into the details, you’ll find that they’re complicated and often difficult to interpret.
In our next E360 Webinar, I’ll provide a detailed overview of the DOE’s WICF ruling and discuss how it can impact you — regardless of whether you’re an equipment manufacturer, contractor, end user, design consultant or wholesaler. So, if you’re unsure about how to prepare for compliance or just curious how the ruling may impact you, then be sure to join me on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative webinar. Attendees will learn:
The full scope of the WICF rulemaking
Definitions of key terms, concepts and language used
Final enforcement dates per equipment category
Examples of WICF system configurations
Required efficiency levels per the Annual Walk-in Efficiency Factor (AWEF) metric
Impacts to various stakeholders throughout the supply chain
How to verify and ensure compliance
As with all E360 Webinars, we will allocate time after the presentation for a question and answer session. To make sure we’re able to address your specific questions, this session will be supported by additional Emerson experts on the DOE WICF regulation, including: Roxanne Scott, senior lead project engineer; and Brian Buynacek, senior consultant. So, register now for this informative webinar and let us help you prepare for the DOE WICF compliance deadline.
My colleague John Wallace, director of innovation, retail solutions, and I recently partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program to present a webinar about making the transition to an effective refrigerant architecture. In it, we discussed leading natural refrigerant systems, centralized and distributed options, and the controls schemes that support them. What follows are the key takeaways from that discussion, which you can view here in its entirety — last bullet under ‘Webinar Archives’.
Over the past decade, the transition toward natural refrigerants has been driven by a combination of dynamic market trends, which include: global refrigerant and food safety regulations, rapidly changing consumer expectations and corporate sustainability goals. This historic transition has helped accelerate the adoption and investigation of “future-proof” natural refrigerant architectures.
Regulatory drivers of transition to naturals
In the U.S., the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has not only fully implemented the now defunct EPA rules designed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), it is also actively working to enact more aggressive measures that would greatly impact future refrigeration system architectures. One current proposal under review would take effect in 2022 and mandate the following:
Systems charged with more than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 150 GWP
New refrigerant sales with less than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 1,500 GWP
But California is not alone in these initiatives; there are currently 25 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance which have vowed to follow its lead.
Since natural refrigerants are among a very small list of viable options capable of meeting the above criteria, the commercial refrigeration industry is likely to see an increase in system architectures designed to utilize natural options. These include centralized architectures for larger-charge systems and distributed (or micro-distributed) options for smaller-charged system types.
Leading natural refrigerants
When we think of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration, we are typically referring to R-744 (CO2 aka carbon dioxide), R-290 (refrigerant-grade propane) and R-744 (ammonia). Let’s look at their unique characteristics and how they can be effectively utilized.
CO2 has proved very effective in both low- and medium-temperature applications and is typically found in centralized systems such as secondary, cascade and transcritical booster. Having been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in Europe for nearly two decades, it has made significant inroads in North America in recent years.
CO2 is not a retrofit refrigerant and is intended for use only in new systems. System designers, operators and technicians need to be aware of CO2’s unique characteristics, particularly its low critical point, high operating pressures and standing pressure (power outage) considerations. It has a GWP of 1, which puts it in an elite class of environmentally friendly options.
Propane continues to experience a global resurgence as a viable, efficient and very low-GWP refrigerant choice. Its high flammability has traditionally limited system charges to 150g, which is why today it’s found primarily in stand-alone systems that operate efficiently with a low refrigerant charge — such as integrated display cases often utilized in micro-distributed applications. In Europe and abroad, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently raised its charge limit to 500g; the U.S. conservatively remains at 150g. Also, propane is not a retrofit option and is intended for new systems designed specifically for its use.
With its superior thermodynamic properties, ammonia was a logical first choice for early refrigeration systems. However, its toxicity requires careful adherence to safe application procedures to ensure operator safety and customer well-being. Traditionally, it has been used in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications. Most recently, ammonia has been introduced into commercial applications via cascade systems that utilize lower refrigerant charges and isolate the ammonia circuit away from occupied spaces.
System controls to support natural refrigerant architectures
Because of the unique properties in these emerging natural refrigerant architectures, system controls are even more essential to ensuring efficient operation, troubleshooting and servicing. Generally, the controls are loosely coupled to the refrigeration architecture, often following either a centralized or distributed approach.
However, the expanding variety of natural refrigeration systems can also pose new challenges for operators trying to maintain controls consistency or access a unified view across different systems. Here, a supervisory system — with its ability to integrate different devices into a common user interface — ensures that all stakeholders can quickly and easily evaluate each refrigeration system.
As regulations continue to evolve and natural refrigerant systems gain more acceptance, Emerson is prepared to help equipment manufacturers, system designers and end users utilize these very low-GWP alternatives in the development of efficient, user-friendly and economically viable refrigeration systems.
Many supermarket operators face a common dilemma regarding their refrigeration systems: they know they need to make changes or upgrade their legacy systems, but they’re not sure what their retrofit options are — or even where to begin. In our next E360 Webinar, I’ll offer guidance on how supermarket owners/operators can embark on this critical journey.
Join me on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT for this informative webinar.
There’s no question that reliable refrigeration is the backbone of any supermarket operation; it accounts for more than 50 percent of the electrical consumption for an average supermarket. That’s why keeping your refrigeration system running at optimal efficiency is essential to maximizing profits and ensuring operational success.
But if you’re like many owners/operators, you’ve been relying on the same centralized refrigeration architecture for decades. During that time, these systems have typically experienced declining performance levels and energy efficiencies — all due to progressive deviations from their original commissioned states. And while these systems are perfect candidates for an upgrade or a retrofit, even newer systems can offer opportunities for improvements, especially within the context of today’s rapidly evolving industry and market dynamics.
Compared to just 10 years ago, the drivers behind refrigeration decisions have changed dramatically, and the days of a one-system-fits-all mentality are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Environmental concerns, energy costs, shifting regulations, shrinking store formats, consumer demands and omnichannel delivery have all irrevocably reshaped the supermarket landscape.
As a result, more supermarket owners/operators are reevaluating their existing (and often aging) systems while looking for any retrofit opportunities that are available to them. Our next E360 Webinar is designed with them in mind. To help you better understand the many factors to consider when evaluating a supermarket refrigeration retrofit, I’ll be discussing the following topics:
Industry and market trends driving the need for refrigeration system retrofits
How to identify deficiencies and baseline performances in centralized architectures
A look at the potential architectures of the future
Recommended technologies for retrofits and recommissioning
Energy-efficiency strategies for refrigeration, HVAC and the complete building envelope
As always, we will take time after the presentation to answer any of your questions. So, be sure to register now and add this event to your August calendar.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership recently completed a 10-year study examining supermarket data trends. In our latest E360 Webinar, Tom Land, manager of the program, presented these findings from GreenChill’s unique perceptive. View the webinar in its entirety or read the summary below.
For more than a decade, the GreenChill program has worked with supermarket retailers across the country to promote the use of “greener” refrigeration systems in their stores. While our industry is in the early phases of transitioning to more sustainable refrigeration, GreenChill partner companies are at the forefront of this movement. The number of retailers participating has increased significantly since the program’s inception, and the data Tom discussed at the webinar provides a road map for other companies as they formalize their own sustainability initiatives.
Let’s look at 10 takeaways from the recent webinar.
GreenChill partnership on the rise — in 2007, just more than 4,000 stores were GreenChill partners; today, that number exceeds 11,000 stores.
Partner refrigerant emissions remain low — among the growing number of participating GreenChill partner stores, emissions have been held to a minimum. This is in large part due to the program’s emphasis on reducing refrigerant leaks and system charges.
Refrigerant charges are declining — the average amount of refrigerants used in participating stores has declined steadily since 2007, even as the number of stores increases.
Pounds per store leaks are dropping — in 2007, partner stores emitted more than 390 pounds per store every year; today, 290 pounds is average.
Leak rates well below industry averages — on average, GreenChill partners have a leak rate of 13.9 percent, well below the industry average of 25 percent. Twelve of the partners have achieved a leak rate below 10 percent.
One-fifth still use R-22 — although R-22 use is on the decline overall, 20 percent of commercial refrigeration systems continue to use it.
Low-GWP refrigerants on the uptake — R-407A accounts for 20 percent of partner-installed refrigerants; installations with refrigerants less than 1,420 GWP now account for nearly 3 percent of all partner-installed refrigerants, with R-448A accounting for much of this growth.
CO2 installations increase — installations of CO2 secondary loop, cascade and transcritical booster systems among partners continue to rise, with more than 12 partners exceeding a combined total of 160,000 pounds of installed R-744.
Growth of GreenChill certifications — in 2009, fewer than 25 stores achieved GreenChill Gold and Silver certifications; today more than 360 stores have achieved Platinum, Gold and Silver certifications and re-certifications.
California leads certification — among those states with GreenChill-certified stores, California leads the country with 151 stores. The next closest state is Florida with 45 stores.
Over the past decade, Emerson has worked with a variety of GreenChill partners to meet their sustainability objectives, utilizing leading low-GWP refrigerant alternatives and energy-efficiency strategies. If you’re interested in transitioning to a greener refrigeration system, we’re here to help you develop a strategy that meets your long-term goals.
The state of California and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have taken steps to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) beginning in 2019. I recently presented this topic during Emerson’s January E360 Breakfast at the AHR Expo where I spoke about this and how it may influence refrigerant regulations in other states. Read Accelerate America’s article, “California Starts HFC Bans — with More to Come.”
As we had discussed in late 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that in the wake of the vacating of SNAP Rule 20, it will no longer enforce HFC refrigerant delistings and has proposed to roll back further HFC-related regulations. This decision has a left a void in the regulatory landscape — one in which California and other U.S. Climate Alliance member states are vowing to fill.
In particular, many are looking to California to lead industry efforts on reducing high-GWP HFC refrigerants in commercial, industrial and residential refrigeration and AC applications. With the adoption of SNAP Rules 20 and 21 into state law, California appears to be embracing this role. As of Jan. 1, R-404A and R-507A are no longer permitted in new and retrofit supermarket central systems, remote condensing units, and low- and medium-temperature retrofit stand-alone units — all of which can be legally enforced in California under the authority of the California Cooling Act (Senate Bill 1013).
January 1 also marked the onset of bans for R-404A, R-507A, R-410A, R-134 and R-407A/C/F in new medium-temperature, stand-alone units with a compressor capacity of less than 2,200 BTU/hr and not containing a flooded evaporator. These actions mirror the now vacated EPA SNAP rules and are all part of an HFC phase-down schedule that will continue in California in the coming years.
The California Cooling Act also prohibits manufacturers from selling equipment or products that use banned HFCs manufactured after their respective prohibition dates. It’s important to understand this phase-down in the context of even larger and more ambitious state-wide environmental initiatives.
The California Air Resources Board plans to enact further restrictions on HFCs via its SLCP (Short-Lived Climate Pollutant) strategy, which was approved in March 2017. These actions are all intended to help California reduce HFC emissions 40 percent below the levels it recorded in 2013 by 2030, as stated in Senate Bill 1383 (aka the Super Pollutant Reduction Act).
CARB’s SLCP strategy is based on a multipronged approach in which they have proposed:
Limiting the GWP of refrigerants used in new stationary air-conditioning equipment to below 750 starting in 2023
Imposing prohibitions on refrigerants (more than 50 pounds) with a GWP of more than 150 for new stationary refrigeration beginning in 2022
Calling for a blanket ban on all production, import, sales, distribution or entry into commerce of refrigerants with a GWP of 1,500 or more, effective in 2022, with possible exemptions for R-410A for use in AC and reclaimed refrigerant.
We anticipate CARB to announce a final regulation on these SLCP initiatives in December for AC and March 2020 for commercial refrigeration. In the meantime, we encourage stakeholders to engage CARB in one of the many public meetings they’re planning throughout 2019.
As other states watch closely to see how California’s pending environmental regulations take shape, we believe it’s important that our industry continues to push for consistency in our approaches. Dealing with state-by-state mandates on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable would only introduce unnecessary complexity. To see my comments on this matter, please read the full article here.
Commercial & Residential Solutions is a global innovator of energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. www.climate.emerson.com