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Clean Energy Ministerial Launches Advanced Cooling Challenge

Governments and industry challenged to lead a revolution in cooling technology

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Clean Energy Ministerial Launches Advanced Cooling Challenge

Improving the average efficiency of air conditioners sold in 2030 by 30% could reduce emissions by up to 25 billion metric tons of CO2 over the lifetime of the equipment and reduce peak electricity demand by as much as 340-790 gigawatts. This is equal to erasing the annual emissions from 1,550 coal-fired power plants.

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) launched the Advanced Cooling Challenge (AC Challenge) at CEM7 in San Francisco, California today. This global campaign challenges governments, companies, and other stakeholders to develop and deploy at scale super-efficient, smart, climate-friendly, and affordable cooling technologies that are critical for prosperous and healthy societies.

"Access to cooling is at the heart of opportunity, health, and prosperity, but the challenge we have before us is how to deliver that cooling sustainably to more people," said Gabrielle Dreyfus, the U.S. lead for the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative. "The Advanced Cooling Challenge aims to inspire governments and industry to make, sell, promote, or install super-efficient air conditioner or cooling solutions that are smart, low global warming potential, and affordable." 

Improving the average efficiency of air conditioners sold in 2030 by 30% could reduce emissions by up to 25 billion metric tons of CO2 over the lifetime of the equipment and reduce peak electricity demand by as much as 340-790 gigawatts. This is equal to erasing the annual emissions from 1,550 coal-fired power plants.

"Rapid urbanization and desire for high quality of life together with increasing incomes will drive up the demand for air conditioning in India. The Standards and Labeling programme being implemented has already improved the average efficiency of room air conditioners in India by more than 20 percent," said a representative of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency of the Government of India. “There is a need to accelerate the global pace of improving energy efficiency in ACs, which is why we think that being a part of the CEM Advanced Cooling Challenge would help. We know we need to make air conditioners more efficient and affordable, and we are developing programs to do just that.”

"Our programs are driving greater use of cost-effective, energy-efficient air conditioning and refrigeration equipment today through appliance and equipment standards, and by developing next-generation solutions that ‘leapfrog’ existing technologies and result in dramatically improved efficiency with near-zero GWP [global warming potential] cooling fluids,” said David Friedman, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The Energy Department is also announcing today a new partnership with the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to fund $5 million of research that will help to accelerate the updating of safety standards to allow for the widespread use of environmentally friendly refrigerants in the air conditioning and refrigeration sectors."

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is also completing a report on the “Future of Air Conditioning” that characterizes the current landscape and trends in the global AC market. In support of the CEM Advanced Cooling Challenge and Mission Innovation, DOE is exploring international collaboration with several countries to leverage DOE’s significant investment in next-generation, low-GWP heating and cooling research and development. DOE will also lend its expertise and experience building demand for efficient equipment through the Better Buildings Program. DOE will engage with the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center to conduct data analysis supporting an improved, fact-based understanding of the global impacts of transitioning to climate-friendly refrigerant alternatives. 

The AC Challenge’s founding members include the United States, India, China, Canada, and Saudi Arabia, who have committed to implementing policies to stimulate demand through energy efficiency labeling and promotion efforts, procurement and energy efficiency challenges and prizes, or other market transformation programs. CEM calls on other governments and businesses to enter the AC Challenge and make their own commitments to: 

  • Research and develop next-generation super-efficient and low-global warming potential air conditioning appliances and other cooling equipment and to rapidly make them available worldwide at affordable prices.
  • Install high efficiency, smart, and climate friendly cooling equipment. 
  • Contribute to the development of a global advanced cooling database that contains financial and technical data from the world’s fastest-growing markets and top-performing models. 
  • Create a “buyer’s club” to demonstrate market demand for super-efficient, low-GWP cooling equipment.

Many companies and businesses have already responded to the Call-to-Action issued by the CEM AC Challenge, including: Ingersoll Rand, Honeywell, Danfoss, Goodman, Daikin Applied, and the San Francisco International Airport. The AC Challenge also received supporting commitments from leading organizations, including the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, the ClimateWorks, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the United Nations Environment Programme. Commitments are listed below, or visit to find their commitments in support of the Advanced Cooling Challenge.

To join the AC Challenge, contact

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is a forum of the world’s major economies and leading clean energy investors working together to accelerate the global transition to clean energy. Launched in 2010, the CEM pairs the high-level engagement of energy ministers with sustained initiatives and high-visibility campaigns to drive faster deployment of clean energy policies and technologies worldwide. 

Commitments from Companies and Businesses

  • Ingersoll Rand commits to spending $500 million by 2020 for research and development to deliver high efficiency and low GWP heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration solutions to global markets before 2030. 
  • Honeywell commits to increasing its production of its low-GWP refrigerants, insulation materials, aerosols, and solvents and anticipates spending nearly $900 million through 2019 on research & development and new capacity to produce these next generation solutions, which have global warming potential equal to or better than carbon dioxide and at least 99.9 percent lower than the products they replace. 
  • Danfoss commits to speed the adoption of energy efficient equipment by providing a full array of components for low-GWP refrigerants, including deploying ejector technology which can improve the efficiency of CO2 systems by as much as 20 percent over traditional refrigerants in warm climates, and invest in a $5 million Application Development Center to help OEMs redesign traditional systems and to test them, with the aim of improving system efficiency. 
  • Goodman commits to the development of climate friendly heating and cooling systems that use low GWP refrigerants and provide high levels of energy efficient performance. 
  • Daikin Applied is committed to developing equipment-specific demand response control solutions for our entire portfolio of HVAC products and systems. Intelligent Equipment™ from Daikin Applied is a cloud-enabled controls solution that forges a new path to HVAC unit efficiency. Daikin is already developing Automated Demand Response (ADR) for Intelligent Equipment, which will allow customers to maximize their energy efficiency and offset usage from peak hours, all at the unit level. Intelligent Equipment with ADR will also help utilities meet growing energy demands. 
  • SFO commits to assessing its existing cooling equipment policies and programs and install, where appropriate, super-efficient, smart, climate-friendly, and affordable cooling technologies within its facilities. 
  • The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) has assembled a team of experts to help governments and industry around the world, including in India and China, to increase the energy efficiency of air conditioners in parallel with the phase down of super-polluting HFC refrigerants. CIFF is providing a grant of $12.8 million to support this work. This work will complement CIFF's comparable support over the past several years to phasing down super-pollutant HFCs and strengthening climate protection under the Montreal Protocol. 
  • The Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) is assembling an expert energy efficiency team to work with governments and industries around the world to improve the efficiencies of air conditioner. The IGSD team will provide policy support and technical assistance for select countries and their industries. This will help phase out super-polluting refrigerants known as HFCs, while also supporting the switch to more efficient air conditioning technologies. 
  • The ClimateWorks Foundation commits to work with governments, industry, and other stakeholders to make cooling accessible, affordable, efficient, and climate-friendly, through a program of research, outreach, and communications work. 
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supports the challenge’s goals to spur breakthrough action and innovation by governments, businesses, and non-profit groups, as well as consumer awareness, to advance high-performance cooling equipment. NRDC is committed to working with government officials, community leaders, businesses, local experts, and academics across the globe – including in China, India, and the United States – to develop and deploy an integrated approach that enables a transition to affordable, low- and high-tech space cooling solutions, such as super-efficient air conditioners, fans, and cool roofs. NRDC believes these options will maximize energy savings, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases and heat island effects, and ensure all individuals can be cool and comfortable in their homes, businesses, and vehicles. 
  • The United Nations Environment Programme United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative supports developing countries and emerging economies to leapfrog their markets to energy-efficient appliances and equipment, with the overall objective to reduce global electricity consumption and mitigate climate change. Through U4E, UNEP will build on its partnership with CEM’s SEAD initiative to develop analysis and policy tools in support of the Advanced Cooling Challenge objectives.