Air-Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative


This Initiative aims to increase the market availability of high efficiency commercial unitary air conditioners and heat pumps in the US and Canada and to encourage upgrades to efficient systems.

CEE members meet these objectives by working with HVAC industry stakeholders to define and promote consensus performance specifications for commercial air conditioner and heat pump equipment. Widespread adoption of CEE specifications by program administrators ensures the flow of consistent information about aggregate demand for efficient equipment throughout the market. CEE conveys this vital data to manufacturers through annual program summaries and timely updates on initiative participation. Widespread adoption of the specification provides a reliable justification for manufacturers to increase investment in and supply of more efficient equipment and, ultimately, increases the availability of high efficiency equipment. This voluntary approach ensures that participating efficiency programs achieve increased energy savings and supports programs pursuing peak demand reduction.


In 2016, the 57 members on the Commercial Air-conditioning and Heat Pumps Committee participated in the Initiative to realize energy savings from prescriptive unitary and variable refrigerant flow air-conditioning and heat pump measures. CEE revised the CEEsm High Efficiency Commercial Air-conditioning and Heat Pumps Initiative to maintain market relevance of mass-market tiers, given increasing codes and standards. As well, the revised Initiative pinpoints new savings opportunities made possible with the addition of an Advanced Tier for unitary AC.

Reaching an important audience, the New Buildings Institute’s Advanced Buildings New Construction Guide continues to reference CEE Tier 2 in its commercial HVAC requirements, where applicable.

CEE’s continuing focus on advanced rooftop unit controls (ARC) retrofits has helped grow program knowledge and activity; the eight members involved in the 2013 and 2014 Emerging Technologies Collaborative assessment have grown to 13 member programs and pilots in 2016. As they share data, members build consensus program guidance, which CEE now vets with industry partners.

CEE specifications enable member incentive programs to recognize and promote the most efficient products in the marketplace. As such, specifications catalyze market transformation. As member efforts transform markets, CEE tier levels are periodically raised to encourage continued advancement. The advances in specification tiers shown in this graphic indicate the progress that has been made over the last two decades toward a marketplace for more efficient products. These efforts are continuing into the future with the 2016 approval of a revised initiative.

This graph shows HECAC tiers over time: EER for unitary air conditioners ≥65,000 and <135,000 Btu/h

Data Source:
Compiled from CEE data and various US government documents

How to Participate

The Commercial ACHP Initiative provides individual organizations with a voice in collective, harmonized efforts to advance efficiency. Initiative participation informs original equipment manufacturers and supply chain gatekeepers—and encourages their ongoing investment in, and supply of, energy efficient products to local markets. While one program may represent a small fraction of the market, collective participation through CEE sends a powerful signal to the binational distribution chain that energy efficient products are valued and supported across the US and Canada.

As with all initiatives of CEE, participation in the CEE High Efficiency Commercial Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative is voluntary. Initiative participants must meet the following minimum requirements:

    • provide incentives, defined as rebates or financing, for high efficiency commercial air conditioning equipment that meets at least one of the CEE efficiency tier levels for at least one of the equipment categories


    • deploy a significant and focused educational or promotional program that identifies and promotes high efficiency commercial air-conditioning equipment that meets at least one of the CEE efficiency tier levels for at least one of the equipment categories


    • when requested, communicate with CEE about your participation. CEE typically publishes publicly available program information for Initiative participants in an annual program summary and in other communications about Initiative impacts to key market players in order to promote the goals of the Initiative.


Alliant Energy

Ameren Missouri

Arizona Public Service

Bonneville Power Administration

Cape Light Compact

Consolidated Edison Company

Consumers Energy

DTE Energy

Duke Energy

Energy Trust of Oregon


Focus on Energy—Wisconsin


Georgia Power

Idaho Power

MidAmerican Energy

Montana-Dakota Utilities

National Grid

Nebraska Public Power District

New Hampshire Electric Co-Op

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program

NV Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Platte River Power Authority


Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco)

PSEG Long Island

Public Service Electric and Gas

Puget Sound Energy

Rocky Mountain Power

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Salt River Project

San Diego Gas and Electric Company

Seattle City Light

Southern California Edison

Tacoma Power

Tennessee Valley Authority

United Illuminating


Xcel Energy