Obama hiking nation's commercial AC, furnace efficency standards
New energy-efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners and heat pumps announced Nov. 17, 2015, will save businesses billions and slash pollution levels, the White House said.
Starting in 2018, the minimum efficiency ratings for commercial HVAC market air conditioners and furnaces will rise 13 percent. In 2023, they will increase another 15 percent for units used in HVAC construction.
The Obama administration estimates that the new green HVAC requirements will save U.S. businesses $167 billion and cut carbon pollution by 885 metric tons in coming years.
“Just days after the Paris agreement to cut global emissions and create a new era of affordable energy, today’s announcement marks the largest energy-saving standard in history and demonstrates that America is leading the effort to reduce energy costs and cut carbon emissions,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This rule also shows that strong public-private partnerships can reap environmental and economic dividends and drive technology breakthroughs. These standards are a direct result of the Energy Department’s negotiated rulemaking process which brings diverse stakeholders to the negotiating table and supports industry innovation, demonstrating how government and business can work together to meet U.S. carbon reduction goals.”
Administration officials point out that the new standards were developed with HVAC sales groups’ input, including the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, which represents HVAC market equipment manufacturers.
Also participating in discussions were environmental groups such as the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
AHRI President and CEO Steven Yurek said the process gave manufacturers the stability they required.
“The consensus agreement provides our members with certainty while providing benefits for consumers and businesses,” Yurek said.
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Executive Director Steve Nadel praised the new rules.
“These standards are a game-changer for the commercial sector. Industry and advocates worked closely together to help produce the biggest energy savings standards in U.S. history,” Nadel said. “These new standards will bring down the cost of doing business and improve bottom lines by letting companies invest money they used to spend on heating and cooling. This will in turn stimulate the economy, create jobs and bring us closer to the finish line of the president’s climate goals for appliance standards.”
The AHRI estimated that once in place, the new standards would save a building owner with a rooftop air conditioner between $4,200 and $10,100 over the HVAC construction equipment’s lifespan. Buildings with more than one unit could see greater savings, the association added.