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February 2007
Energy Star Expands Program
By: Janice Cha

If you’ve been following activity at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star headquarters, you know that to date the Washington, D.C., agency has awarded the Energy Star to several commercial cooking equipment categories, including fryers, hot-holding cabinets, solid-door refrigerators and freezers and steam cookers. 

This year the Energy Star program will ramp up its activity in commercial cooking equipment categories further, and focus on four areas:


·          Adding ice machines and warewashers to the Energy Star equipment list

·          Starting research on griddles and ovens

·          Updating specs for refrigeration and freezer equipment

·          And for steamers, updating the Energy Star Web site with water-use information submitted voluntarily by manufacturers.

First Up: Adding New Categories

Ice machines have become the newest category of foodservice equipment to start down the spec development road. Warewashers are already underway while ovens and griddles will follow closely on their heels.

“Ice machines represent a product category that the EPA has seen increased interest in over the last several months, given that they offer both water- and energy-saving opportunities,” says Rebecca Duff, project manager with ICF Int’l., the Washington, D.C., firm that was contracted to support EPA on the Energy Star program.

The EPA announced in November its intention to open the spec development process for ice machines. The Agency expects to release a first draft of the specs soon, at which point ice machine manufacturers will have a chance to submit their comments on proposed energy performance levels. 

“The goal is to finish both the ice machine and warewasher specs by the end of 2007,” Duff says.

At the same time, the Department of Energy is also looking into ice machines, thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. EPACT requires the DOE to set federal minimum efficiency standards for cube-type automatic commercial ice makers with average daily capacity of 50 lbs. to 2,500 lbs. Makers of such equipment will have until Jan. 1, 2010, to meet the new minimum standards.

The EPA has also started preliminary market and engineering research on two possible new equipment categories: griddles and ovens.

“We’re hoping to present draft specifications at a stakeholder meeting held in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Show [in May],” says Rachel Schmeltz, Energy Star product manager. “There’s a lot of interest from the industry, and we think this category will move relatively quickly.”

Existing Specs Get A Second Look

Industry advances and moves by other government agencies can also lead the EPA to update existing specs, which is happening now with refrigerators and freezers.  

For one thing, this category has seen a number of improvements since earning the Star in 2001.And it’s going to be regulated by EPACT, which will require current Energy Star levels for commercial refrigerated equipment by ’10.

Since that would make Energy Star specs the minimum standard, “the EPA needs to raise the bar again to ensure that the Star continues to represent the most energy-efficient equipment available,” Duff says.

That said, the EPA will collect plenty of input before moving ahead. “When we make the specs more stringent, some products that are currently Energy Star-qualified may not be any more,” Schmeltz says. “We have to consider the impact that that would have on our manufacturer partners and their product lines.”

Future specs can also get a second look. When the first warewasher specifications draft was released to the industry last May, usage requirements were based solely on water use. But recent interest by energy utilities has caused the EPA to consider including idle energy use, too.

“We’re asking stakeholders to send additional data to us to determine whether this should be included,” says Schmeltz.

EPA Asks For More Steamer Data

And finally, some Star-qualified products need more info in their Energy Star Web site listings to help end users make better decisions. That’s the case for steamers, and the EPA in November asked steamer makers to voluntarily send in water-use specs for their Star-qualified equipment.

“Water use is not becoming part of the specs—it’s a voluntary reporting initiative,” Schmeltz explains. “Adding water use information gives operators additional information with which to compare equipment.”

The new information will be posted on Energy Star’s Qualified Products page in monthly updates at

What’s New At The Web Site

Want to tour the recently updated Energy Star Web page? Your first stop should be the section created specifically for commercial foodservice professionals, including links to Star-qualified products, the Food Service Technology Center and case studies.

Of note is the ES Incentive Finder, which will help you track down rebates for equipment across the country.

Finally, consultants should visit the Best Practices Tools, spreadsheets that show examples of energy and water savings that come from using energy-efficient equipment. Go to and look for the “Save Money, Save Energy” section, where you’ll find links to Excel sheets for full- and quick-service operations.

Energy Star Activity For 2007




Specs for Revision

New Web Info




Ice Machines






Refrigerators & Freezers














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