Advanced Rooftop Units Are Keeping It Cool

While you probably won’t find Rooftop Units trending on Twitter anytime soon, you will continue to find them on roofs of commercial buildings working tirelessly to keep you cool. And, like many of their HVAC counterparts, rooftop units are due for an energy efficiency overhaul.

Just like air conditioning & heat pump units in residential homes, rooftop units are anticipating an energy efficiency breakthrough, likely to come from a combination of new business models, program support and eventually a push from an updated efficiency standard.

The major market interventions in the Northeast region are executed through efficiency programs conducted by utilities and state organizations. These established programs and resources are focused on promoting efficient rooftop units (RTUs) and on overcoming market barriers to their deployment. These programs are funded through electric ratepayer funds, but the programs also have access to tools from national organizations. Many businesses have opted to install efficient RTU models, since they can earn rebates and lower their electric bills.

Simultaneously, as programs incentivize efficient units, appliance standards limit the sale of inefficient units from entering the market. Currently, the U.S. DOE is updating its HVAC standard. These proposed standards, if adopted, would apply to all equipment listed, manufactured, intended for distribution and sale in the US. Given the standard’s effect on the manufacture of commercial RTU units, it is expected to save roughly 140GWh and 50MW nationally in the year 2020. 

The U.S. DOE also conducted a three year challenge, from 2011 to 2013 for industry to develop and market an Advanced Rooftop Unit to meet unprecedented efficiency levels. There are a total of five companies that offer RTUs that meet the Challenge performance specification. With the proliferation of Advanced Rooftops, the U.S. DOE began the ARTU Campaign to develop tools, resources and an awards program all aimed at promoting selection of qualifying units.

In order to further accelerate efficient equipment uptake of packaged HVAC systems for commercial customers in the Northeast region, including the early replacement of old inefficient systems, NEEP, in conjunction with U.S. DOE and Sponsors, is conducting a Market Characterization and holding a June Workshop. The potential energy savings and demand reduction potential associated with commercial air conditioners and heat pumps, is particularly significant in our region. NEEP’s collaborative peer-exchange will engage stakeholder input, review and comment, as we aim to advance efficiency from Rooftop Units. 

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