Setting the Record Straight on False ENERGY STAR® Claims

ES_Partner_logoRecently, another ultra-low freezer manufacturer “boldly” asserted that their model is the “most energy-efficient ULT freezer.” This very public claim was presented as having its basis in ENERGY STAR® certified test results that are posted at energystar.gov. While we’re pleased to see other ULT freezer manufacturers moving to more efficient designs and joining the ENERGY STAR program, we would like to set the record straight on this matter . . .

It has been confirmed that this competitor’s claim was false and the Stirling Ultracold SU780XLE has been validated by ENERGY STAR as the most energy-efficient ULT freezer. This is not our claim, but is based on the EPA ENERGY STAR calculation that qualifies ULT freezers for certification (version 1.1 specification). Anyone can go to energystar.gov and clearly see that the SU780XLE is the most efficient certified ULT freezer listed (.29 kWh/day/ft3).

Energystar Gov Lab Grade of ULT FreezersScreenshot from energystar.gov (on 11-27-17) showing the SU780XLE is the top Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer listed.

Just Another Untrustworthy Claim

Unfortunately, this inaccurate claim is just the most recent example of ULT manufacturer “marketing” that asserts unfounded energy specifications or capabilities. As I pointed out in the blog post, What’s the Difference Between “Typical”, “Specification” and “Final Test Method”?, others in our industry have confused and obfuscated for years on the issue of ULT freezer energy consumption. That’s why Stirling Ultracold was alone in publicly promoting the ENERGY STAR Final Test Method when it became the de facto industry standard in 2014. We’ve always believed that ULT freezer buyers deserve a straightforward “apples to apples” energy comparison, which is the purpose of ENERGY STAR after all. Isn’t it ironic that we’re still talking about confusion on this issue, even after long-awaited ENERGY STAR certification has come to ULT freezers?

Defining True Industry Leadership

At Stirling Ultracold, we carefully consider the validity of all technical data published in our marketing communications, which is why our products are known for delivering on promised performance in independent tests and daily operation. That’s also why we were the first in our industry to cite third-party, ENERGY STAR test protocol results for published energy consumption. We made this change to our SU780XLE product literature over a year ago to “walk the talk” and model transparency rather than the casual “specsmanship” that has become so prevalent in our industry. As an industry leader we place the highest value on accuracy and integrity to meet market needs.

We’ve said it before and we’ll now say it again . . . No other ULT freezer on the market offers more energy savings than the SU780XLE, and we would be happy to provide SU780XLE test data in the required ENERGY STAR reporting format to back up this statement. Not only is the XLE the first and most efficient ENERGY STAR-certified ULT freezer, but its field-proven Stirling engine doesn’t use compressors that are expected to fail.

Protecting the ENERGY STAR Brand

Stirling has been a strong voice in our industry for ENERGY STAR and we value it as the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world. Like any asset with appreciable value, this brand must be properly used and protected. That is why Global Cooling, Inc. (parent company of Stirling Ultracold) has recently contacted the EPA’s offices of Air and Radiation and Civil Enforcement regarding the previously-mentioned false statements. As reported in our letter, several unsupported assertions were made in the public domain on the basis of ENERGY STAR misrepresentations, which are potentially damaging to us, our industry and most importantly, the efficacy of the EPA’s ENERGY STAR brand. You may request a copy of this letter to the EPA by sending an email to epa_letter@stirlingultracold.com

Stirling Announces First ENERGY STAR® Partnership for ULT Freezers with Industry-Leading SU780XLE Certification

After several years of industry collaboration, ENERGY STAR® certification standards for ultra-low temperature freezers were announced by the EPA in May. Now I’m very proud to announce that Stirling Ultracold is the first ENERGY STAR partner to be certified under the new laboratory grade ULT freezer category. As part of this partnership, our SU780XLE upright freezer has received ENERGY STAR certification, basedSU780XLE ENERGY STAR on test results obtained from a 2016 independent study that used the ENERGY STAR test protocol. Prepared for California utilities by the Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL), this report1 validated the SU780XLE’s “weighted average” (-75°C) steady-state energy consumption as .286 kWh/day/ft3. This was nearly 50% below the published Maximum Daily Energy Consumption requirement for ULT certification (.55 kWh/day/ft3), as recently published by the EPA. In addition to steady-state energy-consumption, the ENERGY STAR test protocol includes a door-opening test, which also validated the XLE’s industry-leading energy efficiency by a wide margin in the 2016 report.

The ENERGY STAR Final Test Method allows a true, industry-standard comparison of ULT freezer energy use. Prior to the new testing method, freezer manufacturers had their own testing methods, which made it very difficult to accurately compare energy consumption of ULTs. Out of the 15 freezers that were submitted for ENERGY STAR testing in the 2016 CEEL report, five freezers qualified for certification, two of which were Stirling freezers. The SU780XLE had the lowest energy consumption of any of the competitive freezers that were tested by a margin of over 21%.

ENERGY STAR certification will give researchers finding cures for diseases real confidence in the energy savings and environmental sustainability of certified ULT storage products that preserve critical biological specimens for their work. As strong advocates for the ENERGY STAR program, we couldn’t be more pleased to see it finally being realized in our industry, along with the benefits it will bring to the research community.

1 2016 report published by The Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL) for the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (ETCC): Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers: Opening the Door to Energy Savings in Laboratories.

Stirling Ultracold Now Exclusive HUBZone-Certified Supplier for Lab Freezers

If your organization is like many today, it has supplier diversity goals which can be challenging to meet. When that effort involves hitting targets for HUBZone contract awards, we have some good news. We are pleased to announce our certification (read our press release) by the SBA as a HUBZone company, which means all purchases of our Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers qualify as HUBZone contract awards and are eligible for federal set-asides.

As the only ULT freezer manufacturer qualified as a business operating and employing people in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, we are the only diversity supplier that can offer these federal incentives. This certification is a reflection of our dedication to both the Ohio community in which we work, as well as the customers we serve.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who was supportive in this process, made the following comment. . .

“Businesses like Stirling Ultracold are the backbone of Ohio communities. I’m glad that Stirling Ultracold has secured the HUBZone designation, which will help the company secure contracts and federal resources as they continue to create jobs and strengthen the Athens community.”

View our official HUBZone certification under our parent company Global Colling, Inc.

I’m very pleased to share this news and encourage you to pass it on to the supplier diversity program in your organization or institution. When you can see savings in the procurement process while hitting challenging Diversity and HUBZone targets, it’s a win for all.

Stirling Supports ENERGY STAR® and You Should Too

As you may know, Stirling Ultracold manufactures the most energy-efficient Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers in the industry, using 70-75% less energy than standard compressor-based ULT freezers. Therefore, it’s not surprising that we are in full support of the EPA ENERGY STAR® program and their efforts to promote energy efficiency.

Due to the recent changes in Washington, the ENERGY STAR program, which is run by the EPA, is facing possible elimination. The Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) is an organization that advocates energy-efficiency policies to U.S. lawmakers. The ASE recently constructed a letter of which Stirling Ultracold is a signatory. This letter has been delivered to lawmakers to persuade them to strengthen ENERGY STAR instead of eliminating the program. You can learn more about this by reading ASE’s recent blog post, More Than 1,000 Companies Call For Strengthening ENERGY STAR Program.

Energy efficiency and environmental sustainability has always been who we are, so of course we strongly support the ENERGY STAR program, which has established energy-efficiency standards for so many industries and consumers since 1992. In fact, the laboratory/ULT freezer industry is anticipating its own ENERGY STAR program sometime this year, with our SU780XLE upright ULT having earned the top energy efficiency rating in independent test results reported last year.

If you agree that ENERGY STAR is an important program that should be strengthened, I encourage you to reach out to your local federal elected officials and let them know that you want ENERGY STAR to continue.

Time to Take the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge

North American Freezer ChallengeAt Stirling Ultracold, our mission is to provide best-in-class ultra-low storage solutions in the most sustainable way possible; whether it’s our Zero Waste manufacturing initiatives, or the energy efficiency of our products.  That’s why we are proud to be a Presenting Sponsor of the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge – so we may encourage research organizations in achieving their lab sustainability and cost goals.

My Green Lab, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and others have joined forces to create the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge (FreezerChallenge.org) for purposes that are close to our heart, including reducing the environmental impacts of sample storage.  Over a five-month period, starting January 15, participating labs will implement practices to optimize research sample storage, including:

  • Cleaning out freezers to remove frost, dust and debris
  • Consolidating partially filled units
  • Ensuring samples are stored at the most appropriate temperatures
  • Upgrading to more efficient freezers

This friendly competition will be a fun and collaborative way for labs across North America to make strides toward improving their sustainability and sample management practices. Participants will also gain points for following any of the actions listed above, which will be used to win awards.

As a Presenting Sponsor, Stirling Ultracold will be honored to present awards to institutional winners of the Freezer Challenge at the 2017 I2SL Annual Conference next October. This will include the Everest Award, based on the total number of points, and the Denali Award for total number of points per number of refrigeration units. Individual labs who have made the greatest effort to improve sample management and sustainability practices will also be recognized. The winning lab teams will not only be pictured in Nature magazine, but will also receive a coffee machine with Freezer Challenge mugs.

“This is the first partnership between My Green Lab and I2SL, which is very exciting,” said Allison Paradise, Executive Director of My Green Lab. “It’s a great way to outreach, and it’s a great way to get labs involved in the green lab community in a way that’s easily accessible.”

If you haven’t already, I encourage your lab to participate by signing up on the Freezer Challenge website. You’ll earn an award you can display to prove you’re greening your lab!

SU780XLE Earns Top Energy-Efficiency Rating in Ultra-Low Freezer Industry Report

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Click to Download Results

xleWe are proud to announce the release of test results validating the industry leading energy efficiency of our next generation SU780XLE Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) Freezer. In an independently-verified industry report testing 15 ULT Freezer models, we recently received the industry’s highest energy-efficiency rating. Using the ENERGY STAR® Final Test Method, the SU780XLE’s “weighted average” energy consumption (@ -75°C) was 6.86 kWh/day (steady-state) and 7.86 kWh/day with 6 door openings over a 24-hour test period…

Read the Full Press Release

Our Next Generation ULT Freezer, the SU780XLE is Now Available

The new SU780XLE upright ULT freezer pictured with the Stirling Ultracold operations team in our Athens, OH manufacturing facility.
The new SU780XLE upright ULT freezer pictured with the Stirling Ultracold operations team in our Athens, OH manufacturing facility.

The entire Stirling Ultracold team is very pleased to announce the official release of our next generation ultra-low temperature freezer. Now available for order, the new SU780XLE is successor to our award-winning SU780UE upright model, which has become the industry benchmark for ULT energy efficiency since its introduction in 2013.

So why did we decide to bring the new “XLE” to market when our current model was already the established leader in sustainability, energy savings and performance? While we were very proud to have introduced the most significant ULT innovation in decades, the advanced Stirling engine, our new ULT model exemplifies the spirit of continuous improvement that has helped us change the industry mindset in a relatively short time. When we realized that we had learned to make a great freezer even better . . . That’s when we decided to introduce the new XLE!

The SU780XLE not only uses 70-75% less electric power than standard compressor-based ULT freezers, but it takes cooling performance integrity and system reliability to a whole new level.  This will allow our users to keep their valuable samples safer than ever, while at the same time spending even less on energy and lifecycle cost.

The new SU780XLE ultra-low freezer features the following:

  • +/- 1°C temperature variation over time at steady state
  • 1/3 additional sample storage per square unit of floor space
  • New ergonomically designed handle and cabinet
  • 100% natural refrigerant cooling system
  • Industry’s widest temperature set-point range: -20° to -86°C
  • 100% adaptive control, enabling the industry’s fastest temperature pull-down and door opening recovery
  • Universal voltage input, plugs into any outlet

Our freezers have already proven that cooling performance doesn’t have to be compromised to save energy. That’s important because it means that organizations can reduce environmental impact and cost, while using the very best tools to find a cure for cancer. The introduction of the new XLE ultra-low freezer continues our industry leadership in system reliability, sample integrity, sustainability and lower total cost of ownership.

Find out more about our new SU780XLE upright model.

The Stirling Engine Celebrates Its Bicentennial

Stirling Engine inventor, Robert Stirling
Stirling Engine inventor, Robert Stirling

The matchless cooling technology at the heart of thousands of our ULT freezers today, has a unique “garage story” that traces its roots back to the invention of the Stirling engine in 1816. First conceived by a Scottish minister named Robert Stirling, the original reciprocating piston heat engine was designed to improve fuel efficiency over more common steam engines of the time. Although our version of the Stirling engine uses advanced electronics, linear motion control and gas bearings that Robert Stirling could never have dreamed of, his amazingly efficient design concept is at the core of our freezers today. That’s why the recent bicentennial celebration of Dr. Stirling’s discovery is personally meaningful to me and for all of us at Stirling Ultracold.

A model of an Stirling engine can be seen at Galston Parish Church, where Robert Stirling ministered for 54 years.
A model of an Stirling engine can be seen at Galston Parish Church, where Robert Stirling ministered for 54 years.

Since its creation, the Stirling engine design has seen a number of advancements, including an early application of our patented technology on the Space Shuttle and the RHESSI satellite, where the engine has been cooling instruments for over 14 years in a geocentric orbit. In 2009, Global Cooling’s founder David Berchowitz led an effort to harness the significant cooling performance and energy advantages of the free-piston Stirling technology for ultra-low temperature storage applications. Initially, the portable Shuttle ULT was introduced, followed by the undercounter SU105U and the SU780U upright ULT freezer in 2013.

The Galston Parish Church has an active congregation in Scotland today.
The Galston Parish Church has an active congregation in Scotland today.

Since the beginning, our use of the Stirling engine has been unique in the ultra-low temperature market. We’ve been able to provide the research community with more efficient, reliable alternative to decades-old cascade compressor technology–thanks to Robert Stirling’s invention.

Celebrating this invention, Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) recently hosted the 17th International Stirling Engine Conference and Exhibition. Stirling Ultracold founder, David Berchowitz, and I attended the event, which marked the invention’s bicentennial anniversary. As the global leader in the commercialization of the Stirling engine, we were pleased to share our story with conference attendees. I spoke about our experiences in the ULT freezer industry and how we’ve changed the way organizations think about buying freezers.

Stirling Ultracold’s Neill Lane (left) and David Berchowitz (right) at the Robert Stirling monument in Galson Scotland.
Stirling Ultracold’s Neill Lane (left) and David Berchowitz (right) at the Robert Stirling monument in Galson Scotland.

While in the UK, we also had the chance to visit the church where Robert Stirling ministered for more than 50 years, Galston Parish. Stirling’s invention is held in such high regard at the parish, there are engine displays inside the church, along with a prominent Robert Stirling monument in the local cemetery.

As the Stirling engine passes its 200-year benchmark, I believe we’ll continue to see improvements and new applications for this inherently-efficient engine. We owe a lot to Robert Stirling and, having recently commemorated his achievement, I feel a sense of pride as we continue his story. For a more in depth account of the Stirling engine’s history and its use in our freezers, you can visit our History web page.

University of New Hampshire Test Confirms Stirling ULT uses 70% Less Energy

In the UNH test results, the Stirling Ultracold freezer showed a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other freezers. Click the image above for more information, as presented in the UNH Research Blog.
In the UNH test results, the Stirling Ultracold freezer showed a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other freezers. Click the image above for more information, as presented in the UNH Research Blog.

Our assertion that the SU780UE uses one third the energy of standard compressor-based, ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers might not appear believable.  After all, every ULT manufacturer is claiming to offer an energy-efficient freezer these days. That’s why I’m excited to share a post that recently appeared in the University of New Hampshire Research Blog that confirms everything we’ve been saying with vivid, fact-based test results.

Earlier this year, the UNH University Instrumentation Center (UIC) began a project to evaluate ultra-low temperature freezer technology and associated energy consumption. In the test, the UIC team remotely monitored the energy use of three ultra-low freezers including the Stirling Ultracold SU780UE.

Quoting directly from the UNH blog post, the results of this testing were as follows . . .

“In the UNH UIC evaluation, the Stirling Ultracold freezer has shown a consistent 70% reduction in power use over the other two freezers of varying age and manufacturer while the temperature stability has also yielded marketable improvements with the Stirling.”

The UIC study has led to the drafting of a memorandum that will help move the university toward offering financial incentives for the purchase of Stirling ULT freezers.  The UNH Instrumentation Center continues to develop their knowledge in the area ULT storage technology and is also hosting an Ultralow Temperature Freezer Symposiuon on October 13th 2016 in Durham, NH.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown Tours Stirling Ultracold

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Senator Sherrod Brown visited Stirling Ultracold and was given a tour of ultra-low temperature (ULT) manufacturing operations by Vice President of Manufacturing, Brett Harris.

At Stirling Ultracold, we’re very proud to be innovating and manufacturing ultra-Low freezers in Athens, Ohio, and developing a U.S.-based workforce in a historically underserved business zone. That’s why I was very pleased when U.S Senator Sherrod Brown recently accepted our invitation to come to Athens and tour our facility.

Senator Brown’s visit not only allowed him to see our manufacturing operation and meet our employees, but also provided an opportunity for us to thank him for his support of targeted federal incentives that have helped us secure new investment and growth for our business.

sherrod_brown_visitAfter introductions and a brief presentation of our products, Senator Brown toured our ultra-low freezer manufacturing operation. This was followed by an interactive gathering with our employees, where Senator Brown shared his thoughts on a range of topics. The senator ended his visit by talking with our leadership team about future plans for our business, including our current efforts to become Zero Waste and HUBZone certified.

sherrod_brown_greetSpeaking to the press about his visit to Stirling Ultracold, Senator Brown made the following comment . . .

“Companies like Stirling Ultracold create opportunities for the Athens community and its workers. Investing in quality manufacturing means good jobs that can help spur further economic growth.”

From my perspective, it was a very good day and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it. I appreciated Senator Brown’s level of engagement with our people and his thoughtfulness in discussing our future plans.