Producers of walk-in coolers and freezers are worried they might lose bids to noncompliant competitors under a new federal energy efficiency law that regulates equipment design, according to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
"In California, which has had a similar law in place since the beginning of 2008, manufacturers are reporting they are being placed at a competitive disadvantage because of rampant noncompliance," said Stephen Yurek, president of AHRI. "Now that similar standards for walk-in coolers and freezers have become federal law, refrigeration manufacturers are concerned this is going to become a national problem."
The federal regulations include a number of prescriptive measures to improve the efficiency of walk-in freezers and coolers manufactured after Jan. 1, 2009, and AHRI says that many manufacturers have designed their products to comply.
"Neither the California nor the federal law have an enforcement mechanism," said Yurek. "So that drawback combined with a lack of awareness among equipment installers and owners that these laws exist will result in noncompliance becoming a growing issue. This is not only bad for our members' businesses, it also hurts our ability as a nation to save energy."
To address the issue, AHRI is launching an initiative to educate distributors, installers, and equipment owners about the new standard and its requirements. The association has developed a simple checklist that installers and equipment owners can use to make sure the walk-in cooler or freezer being specified or installed complies with federal law. The checklist is available for download online.
In addition to customer education, AHRI says that manufacturers believe the solution is the development of a certification program for walk-in coolers and freezers that would clearly identify those units that have been independently tested to verify they achieve a federally established minimum performance rating. The federal government is working closely with industry to develop a testing methodology for this equipment by 2010. In addition, a final rule is expected to be adopted in January 2012 that will establish a performance-based standard.
"We believe a performance standard for this equipment combined with a performance certification program is the most effective approach to improving the energy efficiency of walk-in freezers and coolers," said Yurek. "Our members are committed to working with the federal government to develop a testing methodology as quickly as possible."
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