While the HVAC community had its share of heated discussions in 2011, none were hotter than the industry debate over dry-shipped R-22 units. Carrier wound up at the center of this debate after petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to close the loophole allowing the installation of new R-22 units. For spearheading Carrier’s petition and leading the charge to continue the phaseout of R-22, John Mandyck is a 2011 NEWSmaker.

From Policy to Petition

Mandyck is the chief sustainability officer for the Climate, Controls and Security Systems business unit of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which includes Carrier. He joined Carrier nearly 19 years ago, and was promoted to various positions before his current role as sustainability officer. His background is in public policy, so it was a natural progression for him to handle the company’s government relations in previous roles, and ultimately now to take Carrier’s message to the EPA.

Essentially, Mandyck said, Carrier is opposed to the R-22 loophole because it’s “bad environmental policy.” He noted that the company is committed to the phaseout of ozone-depleting refrigerants to prevent the “continued degradation of the earth’s ozone layer.”

Furthermore, Mandyck said, “Our industry had a longstanding understanding that January 2010 was the cut-off for HCFC-22 for new air conditioning products. What changed is that two weeks before the deadline took effect, the EPA changed its interpretation of how an air conditioning condensing unit is defined. That change forced the entire industry back into R-22 after everyone had gotten out.”

He noted that Carrier believes “a repair should be a repair — not the wholesale change-out of a condensing unit.” And, he added, “I think it’s fair to say this was not the intended policy, and that the loophole has put the industry and environmental policy on a different course.”

Seeking Stable Regulations

Mandyck noted that the loophole has been a setback for manufacturers, who rely on stable regulations to guide their product development. “For us, uncertainty is the enemy of innovation,” he said, adding that Trane, Johnson Controls, Lennox, and Daikin McQuay also joined Carrier in writing a joint letter to the EPA earlier this year asking that the loophole be closed.

“Our entire industry, Carrier included, prepared for those environmental regulations in good faith, and we did it years ago,” Mandyck said. He noted that this preparation involved inventing new technology, retooling factories to make the new units, and preparing dealers through education. “So you can imagine the concern and frustration when you do all of those things, and then have them essentially become null and void by a last-minute change in the regulations.”

Instead of spending time on R-22 units, Mandyck wants Carrier to continue to lead by reinventing its products to become more environmentally sound and energy efficient. “What we realized early on is that the drive for energy efficiency is relentless,” he said. “It comes from all corners of the globe, either by customer pull or regulatory push. We want to make sure that we’re on top of those trends so we can deliver solutions to the marketplace.”

Continuing the Dialogue

This year, Mandyck said his greatest success is that the industry is having a dialogue about the loophole. “People throughout the industry are standing up and saying, ‘Hey, is this right?’ And we have the government reconsidering a major issue,” he said. Although Carrier continues to ask EPA to accelerate its decision making process, at press time the agency was still evaluating the petition.

SIDEBAR: 2011 NEWSmaker

Name: John Mandyck

Title: Chief sustainability officer

Company: UTC Climate Controls and Security Systems

Location: Farmington, Conn.

Notable quote: “A repair should be a repair — not the wholesale change-out of a condensing unit.”

Publication date: 12/19/2011