Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and the Refrigerating Engineers & Technicians Association have formed an alliance to develop an energy-efficiency certification for industrial refrigeration operators across the Northwest and the United States.

The credential ? Certified Refrigeration Energy Specialist (CRES) ? gives Northwest refrigeration operators, technicians, managers and other refrigeration professionals the skills to optimize energy efficiency of their plants and discover the means for energy-related cost savings, says the Portland, Ore.-based alliance of more than 100 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations.

To kick-start CRES in the Northwest, NEEA held three demonstration trainings for refrigeration operators and technicians in the Seattle, Boise and Yakima areas. The trainings helped participants gain the knowledge and hands-on capabilities needed to meet RETA's CRES requirements, including passing an examination and completing and documenting five energy management activities.

NEEA and RETA also are exploring options to develop RETA CRES certification into a national program for all RETA members and refrigeration professionals.

"RETA couldn't have gotten CRES launched without NEEA as a partner in the Northwest. NEEA brings key players together to get big things done," says Don Tragethon, RETA's executive director. "Our members will be able to help their companies be even more sustainable, competitive and safe."

Industrial refrigeration comprises nearly 9 percent of the Northwest's regional industrial electric energy load. Typical cost reductions are about 3 to 7 percent refrigeration electricity use after a year or more of consistent effort by a CRES certified operator, according to NEEA and RETA. Operators must complete additional energy-management activities every three years as well as continuing education to maintain certification.

Results of the CRES pilot will be unveiled at the RETA 2013 National Conference in Bellevue, Wash., which will be held October 30-November 3.