Foodservice Equipment Reports

With Court Challenge Denied, New Refrigeration Rules Take Effect In March 2017

The court fight appears to be over for a petition brought by NAFEM and other organizations to review the test procedures and efficiency standards issued in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Energy for commercial refrigeration. The August 8 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit against the petition means reach-in refrigerators and freezers manufacturers 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.

(These new standards are separate from the ongoing phase-out of CFC refrigerants undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy program has targeted the elimination by 2020 of certain refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) in exchange for more natural alternatives or blends with lower GWP.)

According to Jeff Longsworth, NAFEM’s legal counsel, 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.”

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