Many commercial air conditioning systems are considered Energy Star-qualified devices by the Department of Energy as of 2015, meaning that they achieve substantial efficiency savings over other air conditioning designs. Using these designs to cool a building can save substantial amounts of money and reduce pollution as well.
Commercial air conditioning systems qualified for the Energy Star program are estimated to consume anywhere from 7 to 10 percent less energy than comparable air conditioners that do not qualify. Overall, air conditioning is estimated to account for around 15 percent of the energy use in a commercial building, so reducing energy consumption by 10 percent could reduce 1.5 percent of the costs of electricity of the building. While this is a small percentage overall, the savings over time can be substantial. The Department of Energy estimates that using an Energy-Star qualified air conditioner to cool a 2,000 square foot building could save up to $21,000 dollars in energy costs over the lifetime of the system.
In addition to reducing costs, using less electricity means that efficient commercial air conditioners help to reduce pollution through reducing the amount of coal and other fossil fuels burned by power plants. The Department of Energy also estimates that the same air conditioner in the preceding example prevents over 40,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime due to its improved efficiency.