Industry and environmental campaigners in the US are pressuring authorities for the introduction of a uniform national deadline for ending use of certain higher GWP refrigerants over the next five years.
The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration institute (AHRI) is among some three dozen organisations petitioning the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to introduce revised targets for stationary air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment.
Amendments should be introduced to the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act that would set clear deadlines for when industry must move to less carbon intensive refrigerant, according to the signatories of the latest petition.
The AHRI said in a statement that the proposed regulatory standards would require manufacturers to make use of refrigerants with a GWP of 750 or lower by 1 January 2025. This would not initially apply to variable refrigerant flow (VRF) equipment, which would have an additional year to meet the same requirements based on the proposals.
Ten US states including California have already individually adopted these targets to transition to alternative refrigerant. This so-called ‘climate alliance’ of states have decided to introduce their own targets in response to years of legal wrangling in the US over the validity of previous national commitments to force industry to move to lower GWP refrigerant.
The US cooling sector is expecting to come under growing pressure to rethink its overall environmental impacts after US President Joe Biden committed earlier this year to ratify global targets within the Kigali Amendment. This forms part of his administration’s aim to taker a stronger stance on climate change mitigation.
The AHRI argued within its latest petition that a planned transition to lower GWP gas should occur over gradually over a number of years depending on different equipment types that would initially look at commercial refrigeration and chiller technologies.
The decision to petition the EPA is intended to reflect existing industry consensus for regulation to be introduced at a federal level to help ensure manufacturers and installers are complying with upcoming changes to global requirements on greenhouse gas reduction.
HVACR specialists within the US are already working to bring their operations in line with the proposed transition dates set out in the petition, according to the AHRI. It added that the dates would give industry “sufficient time” to plan how to move their operations and clients over to new products in a viable way as would be required under any national law.
The petition stated, “For example, contractors and technicians must receive appropriate training, state and local building codes must be updated and changed, and supply chains and distribution networks must be modified.”
Stephen Yurek, president of the AHRI, argued that setting a clear national deadline for equipment suppliers and installers to undertake a low GWP transition over the next decade would be hugely important step to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cooling.
He said, “While AHRI has long believed that an earlier transition would not allow enough time for manufacturers to prepare, we have been equally clear that a later transition date would put long-term compliance with the AIM Act at risk.”
“Aligning these dates also reduces costs for consumers and ensures long-term availability of energy-, environment-, and life-saving refrigerants for climate control and for the cold chain for food, vaccines, and other medicines.”