WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency said it is readying the final version of its latest Energy Star specification (Version 3.0) for refrigerated beverage machines. The agency's target date for release was June 1.
The National Automatic Merchandising Association submitted comments to EPA on April 6, describing the impact on the industry of more stringent standards. In its submission, NAMA reviewed trends in equipment manufacturing and suggested that CO2 refrigerant technology be included in the Energy Star program. While the revised specification presents an opportunity for the Energy Star program to deliver additional energy savings from vending machines using HFC refrigerant gas, it may have the effect of excluding machines cooled with carbon dioxide, NAMA pointed out.
CO2 refrigerants have not yet been used in cold drink machines, but the technology is under development because CO2 is a less potent "greenhouse" gas than HFCs. (Hydrofluorocarbon-based refrigerants became dominant three decades ago, when chlorofluorocarbons -- CFCs -- were found to attenuate Earth's ozone layer.)
CO2 refrigeration systems require more powerful compressors, however, and a specification focused narrowly on energy consumption might inhibit the development of equipment with more substantial environmental benefits. NAMA advised the agency: "Thus manufacturers could be prevented from receiving the Energy Star designation for their machines that are more environment-friendly."
In view of the delay in finalizing the specification, the agency has extended its effective date from Aug. 31 of this year to Feb. 1, 2013.
"The EPA will cease accepting machine qualification to the existing Version 2.1 specification as of Aug. 31 when the Department of Energy standard for refrigerated beverage vending machines takes effect," NAMA reported. "Additionally, as proposed in Draft 2, machine class A and B maximum daily energy consumption levels continue to be 5% and 10% more stringent than the U.S. Department of Energy standard, respectively."
Additional information is available from NAMA regional legislative director Sheree Edwards.