February 15, 2012

Boston, MA—The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) announces availability of the revised High Efficiency Commercial Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative. This initiative is accompanied by a performance specification for commercial air conditioning and heat pump equipment. The Initiative supports CEE members, who are program administrators of energy efficiency programs, Revised High Efficiency Commercial Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative. Source: iStockphoto.in taking advantage of new energy savings opportunities created by technological advances in the market. By incorporating criteria based on Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER), and adding specifications for high efficiency variable refrigerant flow (VRF) multisplit air conditioners and heat pumps, the updated CEE Commercial Unitary AC and HP Specification provides efficiency program administrators an improved basis for claiming savings across the full range of equipment operation.

“The significance of the IEER measurement is that program administrators can promote greater energy as well as peak savings,” explains Marc Hoffman, acting deputy director of CEE. It also sends a market signal that efficiency program administrators are prepared to support efficient technologies. CEE members worked closely with manufacturers and trade associations during the revision process.

Paul Doppel of Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating comments, "CEE has been very conscientious about developing the new Commercial AC and HP Specification, especially with regard to the VRF system specifications. CEE has been very inclusive with VRF manufacturers and the AHRI Ductless Product Section in working with us to make sure that the specification was consistent with the ASHRAE and DOE standards and the industry capabilities. They are to be applauded for their exceptional work!" While the goal is primarily to meet efficiency program administrator needs for energy savings, achieving this goal is not possible without successfully engaging industry. 

Specification Requirements

Updated for the first time since 1996, the Initiative includes current energy savings potential, equipment trends, and a unitary HVAC market characterization, along with descriptions of market barriers to efficiency. Members updated the 2009 Specification to:
Replace Integrated Part Load Value criteria with Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER) criteria, providing CEE members an improved basis for claiming energy savings across the full range of equipment operation. 


  • Align Tier 0 with ENERGY STAR® Light Commercial Air Conditioner specification, creating an opportunity for program administrators to leverage the ENERGY STAR brand and marketing platform for commercial unitary air conditioners. Incorporating this tier also provides CEE members a transition strategy to meet their concerns about introducing both a higher specification and an additional program requirement to their programs in IEER.
  • Provide a high efficiency tier for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) multisplit air conditioners and heat pumps to support the member need to promote the most efficient unitary equipment and to differentiate and promote high efficiency VRF systems.
  • Improve the market relevance of the unitary heat pump specification by slightly lowering the EER requirements to better reflect current levels of efficient cooling performance. This adjustment helps members encourage available cooling and heating efficiencies for conventional unitary heat pumps.
  • Clarify the specification for supply chain actors by conforming the specification structure to reflect standard industry practice.

The revised specification provides three tiers of efficiency for unitary air conditioners, two tiers for unitary heat pumps, and one tier for variable refrigerant flow (VRF) air conditioners and heat pumps. Using the minimum requirements in the ASHRAE Standard 90.1 2010 model commercial building energy code as the baseline, and calculated based on IEER, CEE Tiers offer an estimated potential savings ranging as high as 18 percent for a Tier 2 air conditioner.

When CEE last collected data in 2009, approximately 50 members across the US and Canada participated in the High Efficiency Commercial Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative. CEE plans to conduct a commercial HVAC program summary in 2012 to monitor adoption of the new Specification into CEE member programs.

In 2010, the HVAC industry adopted a new part load cooling metric for unitary air conditioners and heat pumps 65,000 Btu/h or greater in cooling capacity, and new federal minimum efficiency standards for unitary equipment went into effect in January 2010, triggering CEE to revise the Initiative.

About CEE
CEE is an award-winning consortium of efficiency program administrators from the United States and Canada. Members work to unify program approaches across jurisdictions to increase the success of efficiency in markets. By joining forces at CEE, individual electric and gas efficiency programs are able to partner not only with each other, but also with other industries, trade associations, and government agencies. Working together, administrators leverage the effect of their ratepayer funding, exchange information on successful practices and, by doing so, achieve greater energy efficiency for the public good.