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New Regulations for Commercial Kitchen Refrigeration

James V. Piliero

This year is ushering in a host of new regulations for commercial kitchen refrigeration that will drive significant efficiency benefits for kitchen operations.

The phasing in of new air quality standards, combined with limits on energy consumption, are all poised to create the most efficient refrigeration cabinets that commercial kitchens have yet seen.

Starting in March 2017, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regulations will go into effect that will set a mandatory limit on the maximum daily energy consumption (MDEC) allowed for a given commercial refrigerator or freezer. In tandem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program is significantly increasing the efficiency standards required to earn its voluntary certification, with those rules taking effect in March 2017 as well. Meanwhile, the EPA is also moving forward with its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which calls for the phase out of R-134a and R-404A refrigerants in most commercial refrigeration products by 2020. Combined, these new standards are pushing commercial foodservice refrigeration equipment manufacturers to not only design and build more efficient products, but also to develop new technology.

Because of our internal emphasis on continuous product development, the new DOE and Energy Star rules have not caught us off guard. To the contrary, many existing Traulsen products already meet the DOE 2017 standards, while the latest developments in refrigeration technology are being employed in order to meet the even tougher Energy Star standard as well.

Glass Door 20 Percent More Efficient

Still, the new DOE and Energy Star standards are helping to drive new technology development. For example, select 2017 models will feature an innovative new glass door that is 20 percent more efficient. Additionally, all our microprocessor-controlled units are now equipped with a proprietary smart sensor that allows each unit to adapt to its own unique operating environment. This one development alone allows for peak performance for each of our units while using the least amount of energy.

While foodservice operators should seriously consider the energy use and environmental footprint of their refrigeration units before making a purchase in 2017, they should also consider the practical features that ensure their kitchens run efficiently. For example, top-mounted condensers and front-accessible coils. Look for refrigerators and freezers that feature rear-biased return air ducts located in the top of each unit, which reduces heat infiltration and places less strain on the airflow system to maximize refrigerated performance and thus product quality, safety and shelf life. Additionally, the condenser coils are readily accessible for cleaning at the front of the unit in order to make this important maintenance task easier, which in turn maximizes both energy efficient operation and long compressor life.

Also look for products that will be SNAP compliant ahead of the 2020 deadline, with some—like those using R-290 refrigerant—being already available.

James V. Piliero is a commercial refrigeration equipment product expert and Sales Development Manager at ITW Food Equipment Group. He focuses on the Traulsen refrigeration brand for both the foodservice and retail sales channels, specializing in blast chilling, special applications, and food safety.