The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration institute (AHRI) joined more than 35 other industry and environmental organizations in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking uniform national standards for stationary air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment in the transition to climate-friendly refrigerants under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. If promulgated, these standards will result in an additional half billion tons of CO2 reduction over and above what already is projected to be achieved by implementation of the AIM Act.
The federal standards sought by the AHRI petition align with similar standards already in place in nine states. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) submitted similar petitions under the AIM Act.
For new residential and light commercial central air conditioning equipment, the AHRI petition seeks a regulation requiring that equipment manufacturers use refrigerants with a GWP of 750 or less in equipment made after January 1, 2025, with the exception of VRF equipment, whose deadline would be January 1, 2026. These transition dates would align the country with the dates adopted in December 2020 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and nine additional Climate Alliance states.
For commercial refrigeration and chiller equipment, the petition seeks GWP limits and transition dates based on the product category, with most transition dates taking place Jan. 1, 2022.
Through these petitions, AHRI and a broad variety of other stakeholders hope to demonstrate that sufficient consensus already exists and that a regular notice and comment rulemaking would adequately represent all material interests, thereby allowing the agency to forego the negotiated rulemaking process it must consider -- but is not required to undertake -- for such petitions, pursuant to the AIM Act.
The transition dates contained in the AHRI petition allow “sufficient time for careful planning and preparation, both to avoid excessive costs that can unduly burden consumers and to ensure all safety and other associated standards can be met,” according to the petition. “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.”
“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,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI. “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.”
EIA’s petition requests that the EPA prohibit using many HFCs in newly manufactured refrigeration and air conditioning systems ranging from small residential air conditioners to large refrigeration systems in supermarkets, targeting the largest sectors of HFC consumption and emissions. It calls for replicating a proposed regulation recently approved in California, the most comprehensive domestic HFC regulation to date in the United States.
“The EPA must make up for the lost time and utilize its authority to implement the new climate law, AIM Act in the most ambitious and effective way. Eliminating these potent super pollutants can save hundreds of millions of tons of carbon equivalent, pivotal to achieve near-term emissions reduction.” said Avipsa Mahapatra, climate campaign lead at EIA. “Our petition presents an ambitious roadmap to end the unnecessary reliance on climate-damaging gases for cooling, especially by the supermarket industry. California has already demonstrated that this is eminently achievable.”