Foodservice Equipment Reports

NAFEM Petition Loses Court Challenge: New Refrigeration Rules Begin March 2017

On August 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit ruled against a petition brought by NAFEM and other organizations to review the test procedure and efficiency standards published in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Energy for commercial refrigeration. The decision means manufacturers of reach-in refrigerators and freezers must be ready to comply with the DOE’s new energy-efficiency standards by March 27, 2017. New regulations for walk-in refrigerators will take effect in January 2020.

The DOE requirements include a 30%-50% energy-level reduction for reach-in refrigerators, a 5% reduction for ice makers, and a reduction of 20%-40% for walk-ins.

“Arguing against an agency is always an uphill battle, but the amount of deference the court exhibits in the opinion is much greater than what we have seen in other cases,” says Jeff Longsworth, NAFEM legal counsel. According to Longsworth, the court seemed reluctant to grasp the technical integrity issues raised by NAFEM and the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), which collaborated on the filing. “We knew this was a risk, but we had faith that the court would do their job—especially given the excellent help from members in breaking the information into bite-sized pieces for a layperson to understand. It’s disheartening that the court did not look beyond the DOE’s words and into the substance and technical impact of the case.”