2017 Sees the Finalization of New WICF Regulations for Energy Efficiency; Compliance by 2020

On September 7th, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy put into place a new set of standards that revolve around walk-in cooler and freezer efficiency metrics. These new rules are now officially law. This passage concludes a three-year process that saw much back and forth, and faced doubts over whether it would ever actually materialize.

In the table above, which can be found in this article by ACHR News, the updated standards are expressed in terms of annual walk-in energy factor to the energy required for the refrigerated load.

These new standards will have an impact on a wide range of refrigeration systems. They will affect everything from low-temperature dedicated condensing systems, to more common systems like medium- and low-temperature walk-ins. The metrics boil down to the Annual walk-in energy factor mentioned above, which is “an annualized metric that expresses the ratio of the heat load that a system can reject to the energy required to reject that load.”

How exactly does the DOE define a walk-in? “As defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “walk-in cooler” and “walk-in freezer” (WICFs) mean an enclosed storage space refrigerated to temperatures, respectively, above, and at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit that can be walked into, and has a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet. The terms “walk-in cooler” and “walk-in freezer” do not include products designed and marketed exclusively for medical, scientific, or research purposes.”

According to the Department of Energy, these new standards are projected to have a substantial environmental impact. Their estimates project these changes will result in cumulative emissions reductions of 46 million metric tons of CO2. This reduction in carbon emissions is equivalent to the amount of emissions from the annual electricity consumption of 780,000 homes. Another substantial projection: Walk-in coolers and freezers will see an average of 24% in energy savings in a 30-year period relative to the energy usage of these units without the new standards.

The official compliance date for the HVAC/R industry is July 10th, 2020.

For a deep dive into the underpinnings, and behind-the-scenes workings of how these new standards came to piece, read the longer article at: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/135595-us-doe-finalizes-wicf-regulations

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