When you consider the future of refrigeration and air-conditioning, you soon realize that refrigerant management is so important for multiple reasons. In this blog article, we answer the popular question of today: Why refrigerant management is so important?
Recently, you may have heard a lot of buzz about refrigerant management. Recent refrigerant phasedown initiatives with the Kigali Amendment at the international level and the AIM Act at the national level in the U.S. only brings more awareness to the topic of refrigerant management as well.
One thing is for certain: Refrigerant management is a very “cool” topic in terms of sustainability and climate mitigation efforts worldwide. In this blog article, we will briefly go over why refrigerant management is so important, including the environmental, health, and safety considerations associated with refrigerant management. By the end of this article, you will understand the importance of refrigerant management and how to keep updated with what’s going on.
1) It’s a Top Climate Solution.
First and foremost, refrigerant management is so important because it’s considered a top solution to the world’s climate challenges. This is because refrigerant and their leakage have a significant impact throughout their lifecycle.
In fact, in the New York Times best-selling book Project Drawdown (2017), refrigerant management was listed as the #1 solution to global warming. This sparked wide-spread interest by the global environmental community as well as the HVAC-R industry. As such, it formed an interesting alliance of sorts between these two groups or industries.
In fact, almost every company in the HVAC-R industry that was in any way invested in refrigerant management jumped on this topic and used it in their own marketing messaging to try and garner interest. (There may be a lesson here when assigning numerics to one specific solution… more on that later… for now, let’s digress.)
In 2020, Project Drawdown provided an update to its 2017 research in its The Drawdown Review. The ProjectDrawdown.org website describes The Drawdown Review as the “first major update to [its] assessment of solutions to move the world toward ‘Drawdown.'”
In their updated assessment, Project Drawdown provides two scenarios: Drawdown Scenario 1 and Drawdown Scenario 2. While refrigerant management is not listed as #1 in The Drawdown Review, it is still considered a top solution in both Scenario 1 and Scenario 2. For Project Drawdown’s latest packaged analysis and insights, please see The Drawdown Review (2020).
Project Drawdown explains why refrigerant management is considered a top solution to climate, “Over 30 years, preventing 100 percent of refrigerant leaks that otherwise would be released can avoid emissions equivalent to 57.15 gigatons of carbon dioxide.” The organization also suggests that refrigerants be managed from start to finish, even after the world’s transition to hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.
Check out their refrigerant management page on their website to learn more about their ongoing activities related to this.
2) Refrigerant Management Is Required in Certain Areas.
In addition to it being a top climate solution, refrigerant management is also required by law in certain jurisdictions around the world. This is another reason why refrigerant management is so important.
Depending on the country and/or state in which you live, refrigerant management practices may be required, such as the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment, EU F-Gas, US EPA Section 608, and more.
At the international level, there is the Montreal Protocol, which initiated the global CFC and HCFC phaseout. Countries implement these requirements through their own legislation. Now, there is also the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which starts the global HFC phasedown.
In the United States, there is the EPA Section 608 requirements at the national level. Then, many states in the United States have additional requirements that go beyond EPA Section 608, such as California’s Refrigerant Management Program (RMP). There is also the new AIM Act in the United States.
In 2023, there has been several updates in regards to the AIM Act, including a reversal of the refrigerant cylinder ban as well as new and proposed rules. To stay updated, sign-up for our popular Refrigerant Briefing events.
3) It Helps Ensure Environmental, Health, and Safety.
Refrigerant leaks can pose a threat to a building and personnel environmental, health, and safety. That’s another reason why refrigerant management is so important.
When it comes to the environment, certain refrigerants may have ozone-depleting potential (ODP) or global warming potential (GWP) which can negatively impact the environment when leaked into the atmosphere.
When it comes to health and safety, refrigerants have varying levels of toxicity and flammability per ASHRAE 34. As a result, refrigerant leaks can threaten health and safety. You can experience serious disruption to operations if and when a refrigerant leak occurs. In addition, you can also suffer from life-threatening injuries, like asphyxiation, or even death. This is why safety standards like ASHRAE 15 are important to know about and follow if a building owner or facility manager.
4) Refrigerant Management Can Be Cost-Effective.
According to the EPA, the average refrigeration system can have significant leakage that impacts operational and equipment efficiency. As such, refrigerant management, especially in the food retail environment, can be a cost-effective solution.
5) It’s the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do.
Last but not least, refrigerant management is the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do. Yes, it’s a top climate solution. Yes, it’s required by law in many areas throughout the world. In addition to all that, it’s the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do.
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