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From The Field - Brian Ward

Brian WardBrian Ward, co-founder and chief editor/associate publisher, has brought an enthusiasm for machinery to E&S publishing for nearly 20 years. That "gearhead" interest in how things work shows in FER's informal, candid style that "talks" to readers the way they talk with each other. He serves on the NAFEM Technical Liaison Committee as well as the advisory board of the Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon, Calif.

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Nudging Energy Star On Track

January 03, 2011

As you plan your agenda for The NAFEM Show, Feb. 10-12 in Orlando, Fla., hereís an important item to add to your to-do list: Talk with the manufacturers to find out whatís up with the new Energy Star procedures. And do the same with the folks from Energy Star itself. You can request a meeting at The NAFEM Show with Energy Star representatives by email at commercialfoodservice(at) Then contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., and let them know what you think. You need to be heard, more than once, and through multiple venues.

The situation is changing day by day, largely thanks to the efforts of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers and some of its member firms. But at press time, the Jan. 1 deadline was still in effect for shifting to new testing and certification procedures for Energy Star.

Youíve read about many of the particulars beforeóhere, and in our FER Fortnightly and FER Dealer Report e-newsletters. And for the full rundown, you can see all the details on the new testing and verification standards at Or, you can check a Frequently Asked Questions document at

For those of you whoíve missed the hubbub, the main thing is that Energy Star is putting new procedures in place to assure nobodyís fraudulently using the label. Itís a good goal. But youíve got to wonder whether Energy Starís pulled out a sledgehammer to swat a fly. A whole new bureaucracy of regulation is sprouting up. There are rules for what qualifies as an accepted test facility. There are definitions for entities qualified to qualify those test facilities. There are rules for how those newly accepted test facilities can submit their findings on a particular equipment model. And so on.

To wear the Energy Star label, each model number has to be individually tested. Think about that. Think about how many semi-custom model numbers are generated in this industry. And after a model is initially qualified, it will have to be periodically retested to stay qualified. Verification testing, itís called.

The whole works adds up to a huge increase in costs for the manufacturers, costs that have to be amortized against relatively small model runs. As weíve told Energy Star, this is not like consumer goods. Expenses canít be spread across a million units.

ďStakeholderĒ input has been invited along the way, of course. And some of it has been heeded. But according to many of those stakeholders, a lot of it hasnít.

So itís time to crank up the power. Itís time for the multiunit operatorsóthat buy the equipment, use the energy and employ so many millions of peopleóto take the microphone. And itís time for the channel, too, to voice its third-party, referee-like point of view.

Government works when you make it work. But if you donít make yourself heard, it listens to itself. Part of the problem, literally, is a shortage of face-to-face contact. Budgets are tight, and Energy Star people are like everyone elseótheir travel budgets are slashed. The result? They donít get out much. They sort of get what you say, perhaps. But they donít see your facial expressions. They donít hear your vocal inflections or see your body language.

So you have to throw your weight into this. Get active. Itís your government, your business and your future.

Brian Ward

Chief Editor

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