High-Performance Rooftop Unit Specification Overview for Building Owners and Operators (text version)
Below is the text version of the webinar titled "High-Performance Rooftop Unit Specification Overview for Building Owners and Operators," originally presented on February 23, 2011. In addition to this text version of the audio, you can the presentation slides and a recording of the Webinar (WMV 15 MB).
Welcome. And thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants will be in a listen only mode. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I would now like to turn the meeting over to Ms. Jenni Sonnen. You may begin.
Thank you, Christie. Hi, my name is Jenni Sonnen. And I would like to welcome you to today's webinar entitled DOE overview of HDAC and Refrigeration Competencies in the National Laboratory systems for manufacturers of rooftop AC units. This webinar is presented by the building technologies program at the US Department of Energy. We're excited to have with us today a specialist who helped develop the criteria for these high performance rooftop units.
He will provide an overview of the DOE resources available to support manufacturers in the design and testing of these new units. But before we start, I have some housekeeping items to cover. First, I want to mention everyone today is on listen only mode. We will have a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. You can participate by submitting your questions electronically during the webinar. To submit a question, click on the Q&A link on the top bar of your screen. Type the question in the box and click ask.
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I'll introduce our speaker, George Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez manages Censor and Control Applied Research in both residential and commercial buildings and is currently working directly with the building technologies program in Washington, D.C. Tommy Bouza, the HVAC program manager for Building Technologies Programs is also in attendance. And with that, I'll turn the presentation over to George.
Good afternoon. Welcome. We're just wanting to spend a few minutes today to talk to you about a program that we are very excited about here at DOE because it involves both industry as well as the manufactures of equipment who would use these components. So, let me get started.
The purpose of this program really is to deliver what we consider to be the most important thing, the most important driver in our business and that is energy efficiency. So, what we have done is we have worked with our commercial and retail building alliance members, to develop a specification for a competitively priced energy efficient rooftop package unit. These requirements were driven by the purchasing and users of this equipment and they are very interested in moving the efficiency of their buildings up by implementing and installing these units.
The numbers, as you'll see in a few minutes, are really are very large as far as cost reductions and energy savings, but also, is important as the energy savings and the cost reductions is improved and enhanced operations and diagnostics of these units. As probably most of you know, rooftop package units are about 50 percent of the devices that are used to provide air conditioning heating and cooling in commercial office spaces, so what we are trying to do in this particular project is to address about 50 percent of the market with roof top package equipment to improve the efficiency and the diagnostics.
Really the driver is people who use this equipment, the people who install this equipment who have it in their facilities, they really want to have energy efficiency and higher quality devices so that they can better manage their facilities. We're hoping that this incents the manufactures to develop this equipment because we believed we have lined up the buyers who would purchase it.
As this slide shows, the impact associated with even the single tonnage unit that we are addressing in this specification is huge. The design as we have modeled it, using models developed and promoted by our national labs forecasts about a 50 percent energy reduction in some climate zones for these rooftop package units, using about an industry average 10.2 cents per kilowatt hour, that represents about a $50 million a year energy savings or energy cost reduction, if the markets, the units that are shipped every year were replaced. That's estimated today to be about 40,000 ten ton units per year. From a demand perspective, that means that we could mitigate or not have to build about five power plans.
Taking that out to the next step, we estimate that there is about 250 to 350,000 of these units in place in the market today, so as you can see, the impact of just this one tonnage unit is significant. So, the units today, and we believe this is possible because the units today, that are shipped today do not fully integrate all the technologies we know that you can, that are available on the market today. So this is really an exercise, in our opinion of integrating best in class components to deliver a high efficiency unit that we would like to be a minimum of an 18IEER.
We also believe this energy efficacy and reduction in consumption can be achieved by using VAV on these units as well as increased fan power efficiency. The primary feature of this specification is really targeted at the manufactures, but is driven by the buyers, so what we are looking for is units to perform across the entire band of operation, rather than performing at a single design point. So the specification is calling for an IEER and not an SEER rating because we are looking to improve the efficiency at all points of operation. And as most of you might know who are busy, or involved in modeling the way this equipment works.
This equipment doesn't really run that man hours at full load, so we believe that this IEER rating is much more applicable to the businesses that we are working with. The specification also calls for performance testing, if you use the standard IEER rating which is published, as well as what we want to do is map the performance curve of these units at one of our labs to make sure we fully understand how this unit works. And allows us to benchmark and calibrate the models that we use to forecast the consumption and performance of these units.
The specification also calls for what we considered standard direct digital control systems that are imbedded in the unit, as well as diagnostics, fall detection and wireless communications so that these units can be pulled and managed from a central location. For any of the operators that we are working with that have centralized automation systems. Separately, even if they don't have the centralized automation system, we have been working with service providers who want to provide enhanced service contracts for these devices, so this wireless communication can also enable them to provided services that they aren't able to do today.
So what are we doing to support this? Well, first of all we have been working with our alliance members to find out what they would like to try to figure out how they operate these units and what they want to do. But what we are doing in addition to that is we are providing the full capabilities of our national labs to help with the design, testing, and integration of both the components as well as, the diagnostic and analytical pieces of this unit. In addition, what we would like to do is assist with what we might call is a factory witness test so that we can be at the site to help understand how these units works and then socialize that information as these units are being developed to the market so they can prepare themselves to understand how these units might be installed.
The one underlying notion that we have from most of the procurement people is that they are really looking for drop in devices, so they would like to take an existing ten ton unit that's ready to be replaced and they have scheduled those already and put another one just in the same place, so that is kind of an overriding requirement in this specification. Doesn't mean that it's the only way to skin this cat, but it's definitely one of the feedback, main feedbacks we've got from our alliance members.
All of these national labs are government owned contractor operated facilities so we have a wide array of capabilities at these national labs. The labs that we're offering up for use by manufacturers are Lawrence Berkeley National Labs in Berkeley, California. National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado, Oak Ridge National Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab in Washington State.
We believe that these labs have many competencies, but the core competencies that we believe that apply to this particular project are in the design assistance with industry partners resulting in new products. We have capabilities for testing and evaluating both components as well as systems. We have a very wide capability broad and deep capability in modeling these units as well as simulations in places for how they would operate in the facilities. We have quite a bit of experience and capabilities in fault detections, controls, and diagnostics.
And that ranges from the conceptual analytical methodologies as well as the coding and actual devices that can be used to accomplish this. And in addition, we have the capability of helping and assisting with the assessment of monitoring these devices after they are installed. That's really more to support our alliance members to make sure that these units fit in the applications as intended. And then we also have a familiarity with test procedures and standards, that would be applicable to this rating that we are calling the IEER for these rooftop package units.
What this slide demonstrates is that we actually have quite a bit of experience working with the manufactures equipment, so what that means to you is that we understand your jargon. We understand your business and we understand the kinds of things that both help and hinder the implementation of high efficiency components, so for example, in Climate Master, we worked with Climate Master to develop a ground source integrated heat pump.
With General Electric, we helped deliver and design a heat pump water heater. With Semco, a rooftop combined HVAC desiccant system that uses waste heat from the condenser for regeneration. Nextaire gas driven heat pump. These examples really aren't to highlight specific projects, but really to demonstrate the experience that our labs have with working with the industry to help get these technologies off the ground and hopefully to the market. Really, again, this is only to demonstrate the fact that we do know and we do understand the intricacies and the characteristics of equipment that you are delivering to the market today.
One of the, actually this is a very interesting slide, as a result of this particular project, we are calling a high performance RTU project, we are continuing the development and growth of this concept, so one of the program managers here at DOE is Tony Bouza and he would like to speak to you about a project that we are going to kick off in fiscal year 2012.
Yes, this is a follow up to this challenge. This is to move, I know this-, one of the targets was an 18IEER, but this is a project that will instill moving beyond the levels that we have stated for this challenge going up to 20. This is an upcoming project, we are working potentially with an industrial partner at making this happen.
There are a lot of this strategy. The goal is the cost effective rooftop units capable of achieving an IER of 20. There is going to be many strategies that will be used to get to designed prototype system working with industry. This is just one of the examples. If we go to the next slide, you can see how we use the CRADA in coming up with two commercial products that seem to be in the market place.
One is a ground source integrated heat pump and the other one is an air source integrated heat pump. And by integrated heat pump, we mean a unit that's able to provide save conditioning water heating, dehumidification and ventilation controls all incorporated into one unit. This shows how we're able to work with industry and brining product into the market place.
The ground source version is slated to be in the market by late 2011 and early 2012. By 2011, there will be a two-ton system and a four-ton system to be by 2012. The air source is going to be following a little bit later down the path, but this just demonstrates how we are able to work with industry in bringing a concept from the national lab into the market place and fully demonstrates the national labs capabilities to help industries bring high tech, advanced concepts into the market place.
George Hernandez: Okay, thank you Tony, that was great. So what we're really trying to demonstrate here is that we are not just making one shot into the market with this initial specification. We are really interested in helping the market grow and providing products and services to the market place. And the other thing we are doing is we are actually working on the other side of the coin too, work with the people who would produce this and demonstrate why this is important for them and how it would work and make them more efficient in the market place.
What you see on the screen here really is a slide that shows the capability of one of our national labs. This is a testing facility at Oak Ridge National Labs, and what it is, is it's a system that allows you to test and entire package that would be a ten-ton rooftop package unit. This particular arrangement that you see here allows manufactures and allows users who are interested to test up to a 20-ton package system as well as various sizes split systems. It has the capability of ARR rated conditions of 120 F down to zero F, so these are not facilities that we are dreaming about. These are real facilities, this is real equipment, and this is a real capability.
Additionally, again, at Oak Ridge, they have another facility that allows them to test components. So in this particular facility, they can actually test components associated with roof top package equipment, so they have a facility they can test heat exchangers with temperature ranges from minus 20 to 150. It can test desiccant wheels and also, test variable flow components. The refrigerant flexibility bullet here is important to highlight because they also have the ability to test the new alternative refrigerants that require very strict and stringent safety requirements for the test facility.
So it's important to understand this is a full range, full functional and very high-end testing facility. We also have a calorimeter that's capable of testing the performance of compressors in this same equipment.
We also have another test facility that is at NREL that allows us to provide different complementary capabilities to the market place. To discuss the capabilities at NREL is one of our lead researchers, Paul Torcellini.
Thanks, George. Yeah, so we have a single or a double flow through loop that we can test very quickly and map HVAC equipment in the lab up to ten tons representing a wide variety of climates and indoor conditions and so it gives a lot of flexibility as well as really looking at the performance, especially under part load conditions.
So, here is a diagram that shows the facility. It's a very cool diagram and the facility is very nice. This is a new facility that currently is capable of ten tons.
And we are using it today and have used it for a variety of systems and components. In addition to the ability and capability testing and physically testing equipment, we have researchers that have a very wide array of modeling components and tools at their disposal. And these are tools that are used every day to not only test the low level capabilities and functionality of components, they also are tools that allow them to forecast and test and model how this equipment actually works in the facility. So, for example, in the first couple of slides we talked about the impact, the potential impact of this equipment on a building and therefore the market place. This was done with the very tools that are listed here to provide the capabilities and give an insight of what can be accomplished with this type of equipment.
With these tools, it allows us to then leverage what we think is possible to all applications in the market place. One of the things that is very clear from our alliance members is that they have a wide range of building types and applications. So, this allows us to test equipment for not only the capabilities for an office space, but allows us to determine whether that equipment is functional and useful in applications such as grocery stores or super markets that have humidity control issues that they want to resolve.
So one of the tools that we use today to leverage that is EnergyPlus. Since we are the provider of this tool, we have researchers that have the capability of using this tool and changing the way it operates to go from what you might consider standard hourly simulation mode to less than one minute. So that allows us to use the tool in ways that most people don't have the capability for, but allows us to use it so that we can determine at a very high level of accuracy what the effects of the different systems and components are for this particular project.
One of the most important, we believe, one of the most important characteristics of this equipment is the ability to make sure that it operates both efficiently from start up as well as to the life of the project, so what happens today many times is that equipment is installed and over time, because of just a standard service interval, you may not detect or may not know that the equipment is degrading capacity.
May not know that the coils have gotten dirty faster than they should have, or that there is a refrigerant leak, so what we are specifying in this particular specification is the inclusion of diagnostics, fault detection and automated communications so that the systems will be able to know, basically what they are doing and report that out to people who can service it and people who operate it.
So as you can see here, this includes monitoring, detection, as well as communications to the central host. These are not algorithms or concepts, these are real components and real devices and one of the things we would like to do is we would like to demonstrate, throughout labs, that we can get these and help you get these implemented into these systems to be delivered.
This is a sample of a system that exists today, this is a smart monitoring and diagnostic system for our rooftop package unit. As you can see, since we're not the manufacturer, we actually have a box that would be installed on the side of the unit. Our intention is to have this kind of capability imbedded in the controllers of the manufactures, in the controllers of these rooftop package units. Once again, this is just to demonstrate that this is real and is not just something we are dreaming about.
In addition, many of the things that we have learned in the testing and applied research at the national labs, is that there are algorithms that can be pretty simply embedded into these controllers that allow them to do some pretty energy and performance methods to manage that equipment. For example, one of the things that we have is we have algorithms that can automatically detect whether sensors are out of calibration and correct that calibration on the fly so that the system keeps operating efficiently.
The most predominate issue here in rooftop package units is malfunction of economizers because of bad sensors. Once again, this is not something that is vaporware, this is real. We would like to help you get it implemented into your equipment.
So with that, we would like to begin taking questions. We want to make sure that if you need, if you are interested, this is the website link for communicating to Department of Energy your interest, if you have questions specifically about the equipment itself, components, design, integration, here is the contact information for Tony Bouza. If you have any questions about the controls, the automation, the diagnostics, you have my contact information here on this screen.
So, with that, I would like to turn the webinar back over to Jenni.
Great, thank you so much George. As I mentioned, we have just a couple of additional polling questions before the Q&A session starts, if you would like to submit a question for Q&A please do that through the Q&A link at the top of the bar on your screen. So we'll go ahead and go to the first polling question, which is up now.
Asking, what you are hoping to learn from today's webinar. So, go ahead and please click on your screen to indicate the appropriate response, what you are hoping to learn today. Great, we'll give you just a couple more seconds to answer this question. Great, thank you for replying.
We'll go ahead and move on to the next question now, the final question. Based on your expectations, how satisfied were you with the webinar today?
Go ahead and vote. Great, we'll give you a couple more seconds. Great, and with that, we'll go ahead and get started with the question and answers. Before I turn it back over to George, I did want to mention again this URL, you'll see it on your screen right now, buildings.energy.gov/alliances/rooftop_specification.html. You can download the specification at that URL.
There is also a form that you can complete if you would like to receive more information about this project and the slides from today's webinar as well as a video recording of the webinar will also be posted there. That will be within a couple days. But, please check back to that website. So if you would like to submit a question, again to go the top Q&A link on the bar and enter the question and click ask. And with that, I'll turn it back over to George.
George, have you had a chance to look over some of the questions you have received?
Yes, we have gotten a few of the questions here and I'll respond to a few of them, the ones that I think have the widest appeal. Here is a question that says, will there be any EER requirement or only the 18IEER? Anybody is welcome to exceed the 18IEER. The purpose of the IEER though, is to drive a part load efficiency so the equipment operates efficiently not only at a single design point, but across a range of design points as specified by the IEER requirements. Let's see, are DDC based controls required? Yes, they are, because we want to be able to connect to a lot of the, most of the systems out there today, the centralized systems are direct digital controls and we really want to take this equipment to the next level.
The purpose of the controls and diagnostics really is to provide an insight to the operators and owners of the equipment, so to maintain, to make sure that the equipment is maintained over the term, over the life of the equipment, so it provides the capability for not only alarm or failure mode, but also for maintaining the performance of the equipment. Many of the systems today have these embedded in the controllers. We just want to get it out so that it can be collected in a central location either their existing automation system, or we've gotten some interest from third party providers who would like to provide enhanced service contracts, but they need the information coming out of these units.
Okay, with regarding the DOE support, what level of commitment is required to gain support? We will determine that based upon the sessions with the individual manufacturers. We're really only interested in supporting people who are serious about delivering this equipment. We need to get this equipment to the market because we have buyers who are interested in buying it, so if you are working on delivering a unit and you can show DOE that you are serious about delivering this equipment, we will figure out how to get your support in the areas that we have capabilities.
Will national lab expertise be available for innovative components used in RTUs as well as the entire RTU product. For this particular project, the support from the labs will be for integration of components that the manufacturers are interested in using. We have other programs in DOE that we can talk to you about separate of this particular project about components, but for the purposes of this project, we are interested in helping to get these components integrated.
So if a manufacturer would like to understand better how that component would work with their particular piece of equipment or what the performance characteristics are for a component, we would be more than willing to help you figure that out and figure out how that would work in your piece of equipment.
Let's see, what else did we get. Here is a question, how is the program being funded? The program is, this particular program is support of the national labs is being funded under existing contracts of the labs today. Most of the things that we think can be embedded into these rooftop package units, exist and have been tested and have been modeled by many of our labs. So, the support, really, from the labs is not to do something that doesn't exist today, or component that doesn't exist today, but really to get components that are on the market that we know work and have been tested and have been vetted and have been modeled into the equipment to improve the overall efficiency of the RTU. So, we are not launching any new budget, new initiative.
This is consistent with what we are doing in the market place today. Give me one minute.
Thanks for submitting your questions, George is just reviewing what he's received so far and please continue to submit your questions.
One of the things important to understand is this specification, so for example, here is a question of an IEER of 18, one of the important things to understand about this specification is this specification was driven by the users of equipment, they came to us and said, we are going to be installing and re-installing and replacing existing equipment on our facilities. We would like to have more efficient equipment.
So the specifications for the energy efficiency, the diagnostics and the auto-commissioning, the features that you will see in the spec, are driven by the actual manufactures, excuse me, by the buyers in our alliances, so one of the things that we did not show in the slide was the actual companies that have stood up and said, if you build these units to these specifications and that meet our implementation and financial hurdles, we will buy them. And those implementation and financial hurdles are really not that difficult. They are not scary.
What they really are is they are interested in figuring out how to get equipment places almost one for one. That doesn't mean if you have a different technology like desiccant or evaporative, that it's excluded from this particular program. What it does mean is that it's more difficult to install that equipment. IT requires different curbs, if it requires water, it requires something different than they are doing today, unless it exceeds this IEER that we have today by a significant amount, they probably will not consider it because this is an exercise in gaining more efficiency by doing the things that they do today. The things that they want to do that they can't do and are ready to do, are usually, are pretty much embodied in the controls, diagnostics and communications. They would like to be able to understand how this equipment operates over time. So that's why we have the requirements for the diagnostics, but be aware that the specifications have been stood up and are being supported by the actual buyers in our alliance.
In case you are interested in who that is, if you go to the website you will see that the alliance members that have signed a letter of intent to consider purchasing equipment is Costco Wholesale, Cleveland Clinic, Gunderson Lutheran, Grubb and Elis, Home Depot, Intercontinental Hotels, Lowes, Macys, Publix, Target, Wal-Mart, Yum brands, that's who is committed today. As we continue to talk to our alliance members, more of them are showing a higher interest in procuring this equipment, as they see this equipment moving along towards development, we believe that mostly all of our alliance members will consider this equipment.
Now, another question that's being asked is whether or not there are more than ten-ton size being of interest. Today, the reason why we picked ten tons is that happened to be a sweet spot for most of our retail alliance members. That doesn't mean that if you have a 15 ton or 20 ton unit with a higher efficiency that they wouldn't consider it. This was just an effort to target one particular tonnage to focus on this particular specification. So you have different tonnages, that's perfectly acceptable, as long as it meets the criteria of this specification and the criteria of the buyers.
We do have models, here's a question. Do you have detail models that show how to achieve 18 IEER? If so, will you share it? We do, and we will. The modeling was done using energy plus and it was done for a variety of climate zones and it was done using some pretty standard off the shelf components integrated into a rooftop package unit.
Jenni Sonnen: Hey, George, this is Jenni, I just want to let you know we have had some people ask about contact information so we are just going to show that slide again with Tony's information and your information as well.
George Hernandez: That's good, thank you. There are a number of questions being asked about the IEER versus EER, we do not have an EER target. Our target is IEER specifically motivated by our interest to have units that perform across the range of performance conditions. So if you are interested in understanding how that works, we can direct you to the ARI rating methodology so that you can see what we are trying to achieve. Here is a question, what is the process of collaboration of National Labs? Is the testing free or paid for by manufacturing? Again, if you are an interested manufacturer and want assistance in testing and want to collaborate with our National Labs, that will be on a one by one collaboration so you would come to the Department of Energy, you would show your interest and we would define what effort would be required, if we have that capability within the National Labs, DOE is providing that capability to you at no cost.
So again, depending on what you need, if it's modeling, component testing, if you want to use one of our facilities, we will support that. The purpose of that support really is pretty simple. We want to get this equipment on the market and we want to try to remove any roadblocks or impediments to getting it there. Here is another, do you know if there are any government rebates or incentives planned to support sales adoption?
There are no government rebates or incentives to support sales or adoption. Our purpose, our value, what we are bringing to the party is the capabilities of our National Labs and our researchers. We, the buyers from our alliances have made it very clear that they are not interested in buying equipment that is supported solely by rebates or incentives. They want cost effective equipment that meets the capabilities and requirements of their market. If the utility is developing incentives, and we believe they will, then those would be in addition to the performance characteristics of the equipment.
There is one existing source of incentive that the federal government offers, but it's not in the form of a rebate, but we have on the books today we have a 179D tax credit that pays up to 60 cents per square foot for an HVAC improvement efficiency over ___90.1, 2001. From the modeling we have done, this unit will meet that requirement and will meet that specification, which will allow you to take a 60 cents per square foot tax credit for implementation and installation of this equipment.
If there is longer term of more detailed assistance that's required from the labs to the manufacturers, one way to address that is with a tool we have called a CRADA and what the CRADA does is it allows the manufacturer and the National Labs to pre-negotiate any IP associated with the development of that equipment. So, if you have interest in procuring that level of assistance, or driving to a more efficient device, that would be an area where we would consider additional collaboration with the manufacturers.
Here is a question that says, how can I determine the energy savings for this unit in my location? Currently there is a beta tool that has been developed for the Department of Energy by one of the National Labs that allows individual evaluation of rooftop packaging that incorporates climate zone as well as some life cycle cost components. That tool today is only useful for EER. We are in the process of upgrading and calibrating that tool, so that it will accommodate an 18 IEER rating and above, but basically to accommodate the IEER rating and the characteristics that we are expecting out of this unit like variable flow. So this tool will be posted on the website as soon as it's available.
But it should be available before these units get to market. In fact, it'll be available in the next quarter or two. Here is one that's what's a typical payback on a system that would meet these efficiency targets? Based upon the modeling that we've done today and the estimations from the means catalogue, a ten ton unit costs between five and six thousand dollars just for the equipment, not the installation. If we achieve a 50 percent reduction in consumption as modeled by our EnergyPlus modelers, that equates to about a 12,500-kilowatt hour per year reduction in consumption.
Using the standard 10.2 cents per kilowatt hour, that equates to about a $1200 per year savings in consumption alone, not even to take into account any of the increased optional and maintenance cost reductions. So, if you use $1200 a year in dollar savings, that means that if the unit costs between 25 and 50 percent more than a ten ton unit today, you can expect a one to two year simple payback, so as you can see, that's a pretty attractive number and once again, we are very interested in achieving that because we believe that that is something that our alliance members are most interested in procuring.
One moment, we're reviewing a few more questions. Here is a question about time line. We would really like to sit down and start to understand the individual manufacturers design implementation and production schedules, however, we have spoken to a few manufacturers who have indicated that they could get this type of unit to the market in the one to two year time frame. That is an actually a very serendipitous schedule as many of our alliance members have stated that they would be able to start to procure equipment from whoever manufactures it within about a one to two year time frame.
This is not driven by their desire to not have this equipment sooner, this is really driven by their process about how they plan and procure an existing contracts with manufacturers. That, however is going to be very dependent on the individual manufactures, but obviously sooner is better. Here is another, will Tony or George be available to have more detailed discussions on a one on one basis? Yes, absolutely. We want to make sure that you understand that we're not, we don't believe we're asking for something that is completely off the map.
So, we have ideas, we have experiences, we have tests for almost every one of the, not almost, for every one of the requirements in the specification, so if you have any questions, specifically about, not only about the program, but about the individual characteristics from the equipment perspective or the controls and diagnostics perspective, please contact myself or Tony Bouza.
Here is a question that says, are the alliance members stating that all aspects of the specification has to be met or is there a key focus on __ load improvement? We believe the specification today is a minimum, if you want to exceed that in performance, communications, diagnostics, operations, then please, feel free to do so, but we believe the specifications are the floor for the reasons stated before.
Here is a related question, it says cost effectiveness criteria, 20 years, 10 percent ___rate of return, 5 year simple payback or just what? Yeah, the answer to that is yes, all of the above. Every one of the alliance members has their own methodology for evaluating how, what they believe is their rate of return and what part components of a lifecycle analysis they will include. Some will include more operational than others. The tool that we are providing in the next quarter or two will help them figure out what that is, related to the performance of the unit, and the location, so again, the intent to consider by the purchaser as mentioned before is that they will take a look at that.
Clearly the most efficient, the less cost, the better the rate of return and the more likelihood that they are going to buy large quantities of this unit. Again, if you have an intent to build different size tonnages, please bring that forward and we will make sure that the buyers consider all equipment that meets these specifications at a minimum.
Here is a question that's been asked several times, are we considering desiccant or evaporative cooling? If the equipment itself is achieve the performance characteristics and it satisfies the operational and limitation requirements of the buyers, then absolutely, but it will be important to bring those concepts forward first and since we have not discussed that with the buyers in specific, we will bring that forward and ask them what their level of interest is so that they can help make the decision for you.
Here is a question, is SMDS available now for existing units and if so, please provide purchasing information. It is available, the box itself is a prototype box, but the algorithms and the code and the requirements of that diagnostician is available and it would be licensed from one of the lab, specific Northwest National Labs who has designed it. So if you have interest in getting that today, even for existing units, please send me an email and we will get you hooked up with the lab researcher who has the most experience with it.
Thanks again, this is Jenni, for everybody's participation. George is just reviewing some of the other questions that have been sent in so please hold on for just a second.
You mentioned that you've already talked to manufacturers that can bring a unit to the market in one to two year time frame, did they offer commitment to meet the entire specification or with exceptions, also, how did they get access to details of specification before they were released? The specification was released earlier in the, in the early part of February, so these discussions with the manufacturers happened at our summit meeting in Las Vegas and since, so this is not something that they didn't get any early preview of the specification.
They also did not provide details about what they would or could or couldn't do, whether there would be exceptions or not. They said, basically the specifications is something that we believe we can do, clearly, the final determination on what they can do and what they will deliver is in the months to come. Here is another related question, can DOE share test data or modeling showing 18IEER as feasible. Since the units don't exist, there is no testing of an entire integrated package, we have tested many of the components that we believe could be part of this system and we have, we would be willing to share the modeling that demonstrates how that's achieved. So if you have questions about how that model is achieved, the components and the definition of that model, please send us an email and we will get back to you to demonstrate how we came up with that kind of a rating that 18IEER.
Here is a question about how, do we have to meet the exact specification as it is today. This specification, we believe is a performance based specification. We think it sets the floor for the design of this equipment. We don't have any intention of telling the manufactures exactly how to build this. Our intention is to create innovation and creativity associated with the integration of products and components and services today. Some of the requirements we have, you will see are probably, are definitely much more driven by the buyer, for example, size of the unit, they don't want to have to install new curbs 'cause that changes the price.
Weight of the unit, they are very concerned about weight, so that they don't want to have to put reinforcement on their roofs. Other than meeting these minimum requirements for performance and diagnostics, we would like to encourage people to come up with whatever design or integration or system they have, we would like to bring it forward so that the buyers can consider it. If it's very different than a standard rooftop package unit in look and feel and operation, please get with us as soon as possible so we can vet that with the buyers.
We cannot provide their input until we ask them, so again, this is really about innovation, we are hoping that we will incent the market to build these units based upon the buying power of this one alliance membership that we have, but this is only a portion of the market. We believe the rest of the market who does not currently belong to our alliance will also embrace this kind of equipment, because we believe it's a significant step forward in performance and energy efficiency.
Jenni, we'd like to wrap up, but before we go, everybody on the call please be aware that we have all of the questions and we will start to develop an FAQ based upon those questions on the website in the next few weeks, so as was stated in this slide, if you are interested in participating or have additional questions, please come forward and let's talk about them.
Great, thank you so much, George, for your time today and all the folks there that are working to help answer those questions. And we would like to thank everybody for participating. If you have any comments or questions, in general, about the webinar, you can also email the address shown on your slide now, email@example.com. We will have the slides and a video of this presentation posted at the URL listed here, bulidings.energy.gov/alliances/rooftop_specification.html. We'll have the slides posted as quickly as possible. The video will be probably in a couple of days, again, thank you everyone for your time and have a good day.
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