Industry Lawsuit Seeks to Roll Back Energy Efficiency Standard for Commercial Boilers


Contact: Andrew deLaski, 617-390-5334,

Lawsuits filed this week by two industry groups threaten energy efficiency standards for commercial boilers. The Air-Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), representing commercial boiler manufacturers, and the American Public Gas Association (APGA) filed separate lawsuits seeking to overturn standards published by the U.S. Department of Energy in January.

The standards, developed under a lengthy, open public process during the Obama administration, had been illegally withheld from final publication by the Trump administration until a court ordered their publication.

Andrew deLaski, Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness project said:

“Boiler manufacturers are cynically using the courts to open the door for yet another Trump administration roll back of energy efficiency standards. They’re probably counting on the Trump administration to not defend the standards and instead do a settlement that voids them.

We’ve seen this game before. The Energy Department used a 2017 lawsuit filed by manufacturers to set in motion its rollback of light bulb standards. Now the Manufacturer and gas industry interest groups are making the same play to try to eliminate standards on the energy use of their products. Rather than seek regulatory rollbacks, these manufacturers should invest in the new technologies that will help us save energy and cut global warming emissions. These are relatively modest standards they’re challenging. Other countries are already moving ahead to higher standards that save far more energy by using condensing technologies.”

AHRI filed suit in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday and APGA filed suit in the DC Circuit on Monday.

The standards at issue would save 2 - 6% compared to products exactly meeting existing standards, increasing efficiency ratings to 81% to 88% efficiency depending on the equipment category. DOE estimated in the final rule that boiler users would save hundreds to thousands of dollars over the life of their equipment because of the new standards.

Notably, the rule completed in 2016 and published in January did not select higher, condensing-level standards that would have required more far-reaching changes and delivered much larger savings. Condensing boilers can reach 99% efficiency. Canada, moving ahead of the United States, adopted condensing-level standards last year that take effect in 2025. The United Kingdom has condensing level standards for home boilers.

Commercial boilers are heating equipment used in mid-sized and large commercial buildings. Most use natural gas, while some burn oil.