Toward More-Efficient Pumps

Mark Handzel Headshot

The pump industry is on the brink of change as new regulations governing pumps are nearing finalization.

Driven by an energy conservation-minded administration, the Department of Energy has been working since 2011 to enact new pump efficiency standards targeted at improving energy-efficiency in the commercial buildings industry.

During this complex process, stakeholders in the pump industry have been working closely with the DOE on an advisory committee to ensure new regulations are practical, achievable and fiscally sensible. Xylem, as one of the top pump suppliers in the U.S., has been an active participant in helping shape industry recommendations to the DOE.

The new regulations will phase out the least efficient pumps in the U.S. market in favor of pumps that meet minimum efficiency standards modeled after regulations already in place in the European Union. The Hydraulic Institute, which represents more than 450 U.S. pump manufacturers, including Xylem, supports following the 2009 EU guidelines. The U.S. pump industry has been largely unregulated since the enactment of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which mainly targeted pump motors. The DOE proposal includes only pumps designated for use in pumping clean water.

The good news for pump manufacturers is that the government rulemaking process is following a negotiated rulemaking model, which means that the vested interests of the pump industry are given key consideration in shaping the new legislation. The DOE’s Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) Commercial and Industrial Pumps Working Group, of which Xylem is a part, is comprised of manufacturers, trade association members, customers, motor manufacturers and efficiency advocates. The Pumps Working Group presented the DOE ASRAC Committee with 14 recommendations, including the development of test procedures, labels and energy conservation.

A DOE notice of proposed rulemaking is expected sometime in early 2015, with a final ruling anticipated by the end of next year. Pump manufacturers would likely have four years from the publication of the final rule to comply with the new standards.

While the changes won’t be without financial impact on pump manufacturers, the industry as a whole will benefit from the revisions. First, it levels the playing field in the global marketplace. Without wholesale modernization of the industry, U.S. companies are in danger of losing their competitive advantage around the world. Plus, any pump manufacturers currently operating in Europe must already comply with their more stringent standards, so the new U.S. regulations can help streamline operations for U.S. manufacturers.

Second, the regulations could spur new product development and promote U.S. products overseas. It’s an opportunity for U.S. companies to capitalize on technological advances to produce a better product.

By working together and weighing the insights and needs of the industry from the perspective of manufacturers and other key players, these new standards will reduce electrical demand and improve overall efficiency of pumps in the U.S. Though it is an enormous undertaking, it is the responsibility of corporate leaders to promote and support these forthcoming changes.

Mark Handzel is vice president, product regulatory affairs, and director, HVAC commercial buildings, Bell & Gossett, a Xylem Brand. He is a member of the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee’s Commercial and Industrial Pumps Working Group.


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