The Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) approved an agreement reached by manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates acting as part of a working group to set new energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF).

ASRAC will submit the recommendations to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for adoption. The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and several manufacturers that are members of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), joined other stakeholders in the negotiations.

The negotiated rulemaking was mandated in the settlement reached in July by the parties to a lawsuit AHRI and others filed against DOE regarding its July 2014 final rule setting standards for these products. The term sheet agreed to by the WICF Refrigeration Systems Working Group (WG) includes:

• Negotiated energy conservation standards for the six equipment classes under consideration, including two for multiplex condensing refrigeration systems at medium and low temperatures, and four for dedicated condensing refrigeration systems operating at low temperatures;

• Modifications to the definitions of refrigeration systems and defrost systems; and 

• Recommendations for future test procedure considerations.

According to AHRI, the new standards will save about 80 billion kilowatt-hours over 30 years of sales, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7 million U.S. households. It is also estimated to save businesses up to $4 billion.

"AHRI is pleased to see that, once again, a negotiated rulemaking process has proven to be a successful avenue for developing a rule that is both realistic and achievable, while setting the stage for significant energy savings," said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. "We are hopeful that the Department of Energy will soon adopt this agreement as a rule for these products."

"Businesses like supermarkets and restaurants that use walk-in coolers and freezers will see lower electricity bills, while the new standards will deliver significant energy savings for the nation," said Joanna Mauer, ASAP technical advocacy manager and a member of the working group.