California Air Resources Board (CARB) places higher restrictions on air pollution

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Verisae

As part of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) the Air Resources Board (ARB) has approved an early action measure to reduce high-global warming potential (GWP) greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions by establishing new legislation and defining requirements related to improved monitoring of AC/HVAC systems, enforcement of regulations, reporting of refrigerant usage, and recovery, recycling, or destruction of high-GWP refrigerant gases.

Refrigerant gases can contribute to the major problem of global warming. Refrigerant gases, such as R-22, are contained in AC, HVAC, or more commonly called HVAC-R systems. HVAC systems show up in a myriad places, including hotels, hospitals, military bases, schools and universities, supermarkets, cold storage warehouses, food preparation, processing and service, recreational facilities, office, commercial and industrial facilities and industrial and manufacturing processes.

The California Global Warming Solutions Act, commonly called AB 32, was introduced in 2006. It had the original requirements for statewide refrigerant gas reporting. The early action committee of the CARB has many scientists and refrigerant engineers who really understand the impacts refrigerant gases have on our environment and society. So, the Stationary Equipment Refrigerant Management Program was designed to help reduce greenhouse gases by the regulation of harmful CO2E emissions from the AC and refrigerant equipment, ranging in size between 50 and 200 pounds. Would you believe that over 180,000 places in the state of California are affected?

There are numerous components making up the refrigerant gas management program. Refrigerant usage reports and the requirements for gas tracking include not only the manufacturing of the refrigerants but also the distribution, reclamation, and wholesale channels as well. All segments of the refrigerant industry must keep accurate records. HVAC-R technicians must be EPA certified to work or service repairs on many systems containing refrigerant gas because many refrigerants have hight GWP and also bad greenhouse gases (GHGs). Equipment must be retrofitted and repaired, leaks must be monitored and repaired and stringent procedures in place to cover service practices to reduce discharge.

Almost forty years ago, the California Air Resources Board was formed to focus on air quality and areas for improvement. A good refrigerant gas management program is an essential element. CARB has been proactive, working with the people of the state, its' corporations and government bodies with the aim of protecting public health, welfare and the delicate ecology.

California's size ensures that the problem potential for refrigerant gas emission is considerable. The California Air Resources Board is particularly concerned with recovering refrigerant from places that use stationary refrigerant and AC. Through scientific research and industry analysis, it is generally thought that GHG emission, caused by the release of refrigerant gases, could equal 35 million, metric tones of CO2e within 10 years.

It is a learning curve for many organizations who own or operate HVAC-R systems and have facilities in California. To fully distribute the details on the refrigerant management program, CARB is offering industry workshops and meetings across California. Verisae, Inc has developed a refrigerant gas management application that is web-based and which automatically updates when new edicts are sent out by CARB, the California EPA and other government bodies. Refrigerant tracking solutions, often in the form of web-based applications with a centralized database, empower organizations with HVAC-R systems containing refrigerant gas to monitor, manage, and maintain records of usage and to better log leaks in chronological order throughout the year. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance all boils down to effective data management, the completion of required paperwork and reports; all of which is detailed in the EPA requiremetns.

Air pollution and smog have been big enemies of the people of California over the years. Even though pollution has dropped by 25 percent since 1980 and smog exposure has come down a whopping fifty percent, there is much to do. The Stationary Equipment Refrigerant Management Program, being introduced by CARB, is a significant step towards tighter controls on refrigerant emissions which will lead to a substantial reduction in Greenhouse Gases emissions. It it hoped that this legislation might be the road map for other state or even the EPA to follow so we may experience nationwide improvements to air quality.

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