New ENERGY STAR Requirements in Commercial Foodservice

ENERGY STAR Advancements

Energy StarENERGY STAR is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote and encourage the development and sale of energy-efficient products, with the aim of reducing national energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Participation in the program is completely voluntary for manufacturers, but does offer incentives to those companies to produce more eco-friendly products and to customers to purchase them. The EPA has recently revised some of the requirements that commercial foodservice equipment must meet in order to earn an ENERGY STAR label.

Specification Development

The ENERGY STAR label is awarded to products that meet specific criteria unique to each product category. The broad principles that guide the development of specifications are energy savings, standard or better features and performance, product cost recovery through utility savings, energy consumption confirmed through testing, and visible ENERGY STAR labeling. The EPA uses third-party labs to test and verify equipment being considered, and occasionally tests previously-approved products off the shelf to ensure manufacturing variations do not cause the product to fall below standards.

The EPA develops specific requirements for each commercial foodservice equipment type, with revisions made periodically. The main reason that these specifications get revised is that 50 percent or more of a category of equipment has become ENERGY STAR certified. Some other factors that may prompt a revision are changes in federal efficiency standards, technological advances, and product availability. The EPA may also consider reevaluating specifications if customers do not achieve the expected energy savings or experience performance issues with ENERGY STAR appliances. If any of the independent testing labs experience repeated problems with their testing procedures, specifications may also be revised to ensure more reliable results.1

Recent Updates

Revisions made in 2012 to the standards for commercial ice makers went into effect on Feb. 1, 2013. Both batch- and continuous-type ice machines can qualify for an ENERGY STAR label, though their requirements do differ. The new specifications cover ice-making heads, remote condensing units, and self-contained models that produce between 50 and 4,000 pounds of ice per day, with energy consumption and potable water use guidelines for different production ranges.2

Commercial dishwasher specifications were revised in 2012, and the new regulations went into effect on Feb. 1, 2013. ENERGY STAR commercial dishwashers use on average 40 percent less energy and water than standard models. ENERGY STAR certification is available for undercounter, stationary single tank door, pot/pan/utensil, single tank conveyor, single tank flight type, and multiple tank flight type dishwashers that use high- or low-temp sanitization. Each type of dishwasher must meet idle energy rate and water consumption requirements.3

Commercial refrigeration, including refrigerators and freezers, that meet ENERGY STAR specifications are usually about 40 percent more energy efficient than standard models. Refrigeration guidelines were updated in 2014 and include vertical- and horizontal-door models with solid or transparent doors. The allowed energy consumption is determined by the type of construction and the volume of the model.4

EPA officials are currently in the process of reviewing and potentially revising the guidelines for commercial steam cookers5 and holding cabinets. They are also working on developing specifications to allow commercial coffee brewers to be ENERGY STAR certified.6


  1. How a Product Earns the ENERGY STAR Label ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.
  2. Commercial Ice Maker Key Product Criteria ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.
  3. Commercial Dishwashers Key Product Criteria ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.
  4. Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers Key Product Criteria ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.
  5. ENERGY STAR Commercial Food Service Newsletter: Winter 2014 ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.
  6. ENERGY STAR Commercial Food Service Newsletter: Summer 2015 ENERGY STAR. Accessed October 2015.