Foodservice Equipment Reports

E-STAR’S DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

Nobody would blame you if you admitted you’re tired of hearing about Energy Star—it’s true an awful lot has been written about the program lately.

Most of it has had more impact on the manufacturers and end-users than it’s had on dealers, admittedly. You want Energy Star? Okay, here’s the label, and here are the data. But there’s another aspect, too: How will Energy Star restrict how a dealer does its job?

That question started to take shadowy form Feb. 10 at a two-hour Energy Star Stakeholder Meeting before the opening of The NAFEM Show in Orlando. Energy Star officials, warewasher manufacturers, NAFEM executives, test-lab experts, and others had gathered there to hash out Energy Star’s Draft 1 proposal for a new, revised dishwasher standard.

Amid the discussion of idle-energy rates, water consumption, etc., it became clear that Energy Star has some big and largely unexplored implications for the dealer business.

For example, here’s a killer question that actually came up for discussion at the meeting: Should Energy Star mandate certain prescriptive features and technologies? Should it require, for example, deactivation of final rinse when dishes are not traveling through the machine?

Should it require deactivation of prewash, wash and power rinse pumps after a period without dishes in the machine?  Or how about this: Should Energy Star dictate that prewash temperature control, if provided, be temperature-activated rather than continuous?

Now, as techniques toward energy conservation, these are great ideas. And as a practical matter, would most manufacturers employ these tactics to reduce energy use? Probably yes.

But should Energy Star go down that road? Should it start dictating specs? Absolutely not, and it’s alarming that the question even came up for serious discussion. It should stick to setting efficiency standards and let the manufacturers figure out how to make the numbers.

What do you, as a dealer, do when a government agency gets into the design/engineering business? What happens when technologies are commoditized, and differentiation disappears? What happens to your ability to set specs, compete for bids, provide a superior solution, etc.? If everything is mandatory, how do you make money?

Other issues bear on a dealer’s business too.  The new proposed standards put quite a bit of pressure on high-temp idle rates. Several dishwasher makers say they’re already at the technological limit trying to meet the existing standard, let alone the proposed one. They say they can meet NSF standards or the proposed new Energy Star standard. But they cannot meet both of them.

So where does that put you in terms of high-temp vs. low-temp dishwashers? What do you sell, and how? And what happens if the high-temp standards are so difficult that manufacturers throw up their hands? Sanitation is more important than energy. Every code in the country requires NSF standards. Not so an Energy Star label.

Next time there’s an Energy Star Stakeholder Meeting, go. As a dealer you, really need to be there. You do have a stake. Don’t let somebody else control it.

For more info on the dishwasher particulars, check out energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=revisions.commercial_dishwasher_spec

And let us know what you think on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/FoodserviceEquipmentReports or on LinkedIn at http://tinyurl.com/FERonLinkedIn.





Chief Editor
bward@fermag.com

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