Transport Refrigeration in California Sustainable Freight Action Plan

Transport refrigeration is identified in the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan in accordance with an executive order providing a vision for California’s transition to a more efficient, more economically competitive, and less polluting freight transport system.

According to the document “The Action Plan is the beginning of a process, and signals State government’s interest in collaborating with stakeholders on defining the actions necessary to make the vision for a sustainable freight transport system a reality.”

Citations related to transport refrigeration are excerpted below:

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CARB Workshop on Reducing Stationary TRU Emissions

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) scheduled the first in a series of public workshops to discuss proposed regulatory concepts to limit emissions from transport refrigeration units (TRUs) operating in California.

CARB is requesting stakeholder comment on reducing emissions from stationary TRU operations. The agenda for the public workshop to launch development of California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) air pollution control measure on stationary operating time limits for transport refrigeration units is posted here.

The basic concept is to reduce the amount of stationary run time of time TRUs operate in a stationary mode while powered by internal combustion engines on fossil fuel at certain California locations.

The regulation in development is described in California Air Resources Board (CARB) Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Discussion Draft document. The proposed allowable operating time limit for TRUs would decrease over three phases:

  • Phase I: 24 hours, effective January 1, 2020
  • Phase II: 1 hour, effective January 1, 2022
  • Phase III: 5 minutes, effective January 1, 2025

The workshop is on April 13 at 10 am Pacific time. The workshop will be webcast and questions/comments will be accepted by email during the webcast.

Further information the workshop and pending rule-making activities are posted on CARB’s Cold Storage Control Measure for TRUs Website.  .

TRU Regulatory Concepts Identified in CARB Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions

Proposed new rules for transport refrigeration units (TRUs) are described in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Discussion Draft document:


Appendix D:

B. Zero Emission Requirements
5. Transport Refrigeration Units

Action Description: Develop and propose a regulatory requirement to prohibit the use of fossil-fueled transport refrigeration units for cold storage in phases, with incentive support for infrastructure.

ARB Action: 2016

ARB Implementation: 2020+

Type of Action: ARB Regulation and Incentive

Overview: Transport refrigeration units are refrigeration systems that are powered by integral internal combustion engines designed to control the environment of temperature-sensitive products that are transported in trucks, trailers, railcars and shipping containers. They may be capable of cooling or heating. Products include, but are not limited to food, pharmaceuticals, plants, medicines, blood, chemicals, photographic film, art work, satellites, and explosives. This regulation would address several transport refrigeration unit uses that result in excessive criteria pollutant and GHG emissions, such as:

  • Use of transport refrigeration unit-equipped trailers at distribution centers and retail delivery points (e.g. grocery stores) for cold storage during the weeks before holidays and major events (e.g. Super Bowl) when the facility runs out of cold storage space.
  • Operation of transport refrigeration units in distribution centers yards and outside the distribution centers gates while waiting for an available loading dock space, for manpower to be available to unload goods, or for dispatch or driver pick-up. Such operations can go on for several days (e.g. load up on Friday for dispatch on Monday).

The initial concepts of the proposed regulation would limit the amount of time that a transport refrigeration system powered by a fossil-fueled internal combustion engine can operate at any facility. The time limit decreases over time.

  • Phase I: 24 hours, effective January 1, 2020
  • Phase II: 1 hours, effective January 1, 2022
  • Phase III: 5 minutes, effective January 1, 2025

Use of zero emission all-electric plug-in transport refrigeration systems, hydrogen fuel cell transport refrigeration, and cryogenic transport refrigeration would be encouraged, as well as adequately-sized cold storage facilities, and more efficient appointment scheduling.

Applicable compliance includes plugging in hybrid-electric TRUs, electric standby TRUs, all-electric refrigerated trailers, and shipping containers into shore power with grid-supplied electricity instead of conventional diesel engine-powered TRUs while parked.