How organizations can comply with the HCFC phase out

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Courtesy of Verisae

The HCFC phase out, of specifically R-22 refrigerant gas, is intended to decrease and eventually eliminate the production and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The government directive impacts facilities in developed countries that fall under the Montreal Protocol or the U.S. Clean Air Act.

A schedule has been developed for entities that use commercial refrigeration, air-conditioning systems, industrial process refrigeration appliances, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems containing certain types of refrigerant gases.

Under the HCFC phase out, nations around the world are required to meet certain benchmarks towards total eradication of hydrochlorofluorocarbons within a certain time schedule. The phase out began in 2003 and ends in 2030, giving ample time for safer substitutes for hydrochlorofluorocarbons to be developed and implemented.

In the United States, the HCFC phase out has stepped up its pace, with a major focus on HCFC-141b, HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, which are the most harmful hydrochlorofluorocarbons of them all. However, all other types of HCFCs will follow the reduction schedule set forth under the worldwide protocols. All phase out efforts, while effective at reducing harmful ozone depleting substances, will continue to garner further focus related to greenhouse gas management, tracking, and reporting under The Kyoto Protocols and a host of pending carbon emissions regulations within the United States and internationally.

Currently in the United States, there is no more production or importing of HCC-141b under the HCFC phase out. By 2010, all production and importing of refrigerants HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 will end. Exceptions will be made for equipment in use, as long as it was manufactured prior to January 1, 2010.

For future years under the HCFC phase out, there will be no production or importing of any HCFCs starting in 2015. There is an exception for refrigerants used in equipment manufactured prior to January 1, 2020. In 2020, production and importing of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 will end.

Under this schedule, the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons will be nonexistent in new refrigeration and cooling equipment, with only small amounts in use in existing equipment. The consequences of these tighter restrictions will be market-driven increase in refrigerant gas pricing and strategically important need for organizations to manage a controlled inventory of refrigerant gases.

The goal of the HCFC phase out is to improve the environment by ridding it of harmful hydrochlorofluorocarbons that are mainly responsible for damaging the ozone layer. These manmade chemicals also carry high global warming potentials which lead to further global climate change. This as we all are beginning to become aware of will cause extensive damage to humans, animals, plant life, and marine life worldwide.

The HCFC phase out affects a great number of businesses, especially those with central air conditioning in their offices or facilities. HVAC-R equipment uses the HCFC refrigerant gas R-22, which is part of the government phase out program. That means a great many industries, from hotels and restaurants, to hospitals and food processors, and even offices and retail stores, will be impacted by this regulation.

As part of the HCFC phase out, facilities using equipment that contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons are required to keep detailed and up-to-date maintenance records on the equipment. All leaks must be fixed within 30 days.

Reporting requirements for all locations of a business are necessary in order to track the use of refrigerants, as well as any leaks, throughout the entire system. Failure to track usage and inventory of refrigerant gases could result in substantial fines issued by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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