Walmart and Target are said to be among major corporations working with the Department of Energy on the development of a new breed of energy-efficient air conditioners. The DOE recently announced that as part of a voluntary program, it worked with members of the DOE Commercial Building Energy Alliances, including Walmart and Target, to develop new performance criteria for 10-ton capacity commercial air conditioners, also known as rooftop units that are 50% to 60% more efficient than existing equipment. The improvement is a big deal because DOE estimates commercials buildings account for 18% of total U.S. energy usage.
To develop the new air conditioner criteria, 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 who want to build the more efficient units. Manufacturers will receive assistance in designing, constructing, measuring, and testing the new air conditioner units produced to this specification. Manufacturers have a motivation to produce the more efficient units, since Walmart and Target and participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in buying the new units if manufacturers can meet the new energy-efficient specifications at an affordable price with the range of features the companies need.