This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 09, 2011

Market-Driven High-Efficiency Commercial Air Conditioners Boosted

DOE announced on February 3 that it is joining with the private sector to support market-based efforts to develop and deploy next-generation high-efficiency air conditioners for commercial buildings. As part of a voluntary program, DOE worked with members of the DOE Commercial Building Energy Alliances, including Target and Walmart, to develop new performance criteria for 10-ton capacity commercial air conditioners, also known as rooftop units or RTUs. When built according to the requirements of the new specifications, these high-efficiency rooftop units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50%-60% over the current equipment. This is important because commercial buildings account for 18% of U.S. energy use.

To help achieve the best-in-class rooftop units requested by industry partners, DOE's national laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will provide technical assistance to manufacturers or developers who want to build the more efficient units. Interested manufacturers will receive assistance in designing, constructing, measuring, and testing the new air conditioner units produced to the new specification. The Commercial Building Energy Alliances are part of DOE's Building Technologies Program, which works to develop technologies, techniques, and tools for making buildings more energy efficient, productive, and affordable. See the DOE press release, the Buildings Technologies Program website, and the Commercial Building Energy Alliances website.