Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is joining 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, the DOE worked with members of the DOE Commercial Building Energy Alliances to develop new performance criteria for 10-ton-capacity rooftop units (RTUs). When built according to the requirements of the new specifications, the high-efficiency rooftop units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50 to 60 percent more than current equipment.

Commercial buildings account for 18 percent of U.S. energy use and include significant opportunities for energy and financial savings.

DOE National Laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Lab, will provide technical assistance to manufacturers or developers that want to build more efficient units. Interested manufacturers will receive assistance in designing, constructing, measuring, and testing new air conditioner units produced to the specifications.

The performance criteria were developed by industry partners and facilitated by DOE technical assistance. The new RTUs will have an Integrated Energy Efficiency Rating (IEER) of 18 and use 50 to 60 percent less energy compared to the current ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, depending on location and facility type.

Additionally, the units will include advanced controls that support automated communication and diagnostics, enabling wireless communication to the owners' automation systems and ensuring that the units operate at top energy and operational performance levels throughout their service life.

The Commercial Building Energy Alliances are part of the DOE’s Building Technologies Program, which works to develop technologies, techniques, and tools for making buildings more energy efficient, productive, and affordable. Through industry partnerships, the alliances aim to significantly improve the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial buildings. For more information on the Commercial Building Energy Alliances and to see all participating industry partners check out the Commercial Building Energy Alliances Website.