The commercial refrigeration industry is in the midst of an unprecedented transition. Over the next several years, the Department of Energy (DOE) is mandating significant reductions in energy consumption on commercial refrigeration equipment (CRE). During this period, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also scheduled the phase-down of commonly used A1, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, aligning with international efforts to limit the global warming potential (GWP) of refrigeration systems. The timing and combination of these regulations will impact the entire supply chain, in particular the OEMs tasked with making design changes to achieve compliance.
In our recent E360 Webinar, entitled How to Meet 2017/2020 Energy Regulations, we looked at the latest changes in the regulatory landscape and discussed strategies for ensuring compliance. Hosted by Emerson’s Ani Jayanth, foodservice marketing manager, and Brian Buynacek, senior refrigeration engineer and marketing consultant, the Webinar took a closer look at the three primary equipment classes affected by the coming DOE regulations:
- Reach-in, stand-alone display cases — 30 to 50 percent energy reductions, measured in kWh/day, are required on new equipment as of March 27, 2017.
- Automatic commercial ice makers (ACIW) — 5 to 25 percent energy reductions, measured in kWh/100 lbs of ice, are required on new equipment as of Jan. 1, 2018.
- Walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF) — 20 to 40 percent reductions, measured according to the AHRI-1250 testing standard of annual walk-in energy factor (AWEF), are required on new equipment as of Jan. 1, 2020.
Ani and Brian pointed out a couple of very important notes when considering these compliance targets. First, it’s important to understand that there are equipment classes within each category, each with its own equation with which to calculate energy efficiency. The Webinar covered these calculations in greater detail.
Second, it’s also important to consider the implications of the EPA delisting schedule when making design changes. For example, in medium-temperature, stand-alone cases greater than 2,200 BTU/hr, the EPA is delisting the use of R-404A as of Jan. 1, 2020. Currently, the EPA has yet to add an A1 substitute to the list of acceptable alternatives that closely matches the performance characteristics of R-404A in these particular stand-alone applications. OEMs may have to approach the design cycle with natural or other alternative refrigerants in mind.
With regard to OEM preparedness to meet these new efficiency targets, the Webinar presented results of a recent survey conducted by Emerson. While more than half of the companies surveyed have plans in place to meet compliance dates, the majority of these reported to be only somewhat prepared. A live polling question posed in the Webinar was consistent with these results, as 34 percent of attendees admitted they had not yet started to engage with their channel constituents about preparing for these changes.
With the first of these compliance dates less than six months away, Ani and Brian stressed that the time for action is now. To learn the impacts that these regulations will have on equipment design and which options deliver the greatest efficiency improvements, please watch this important Webinar in its entirety.