ARLINGTON, Va. - Manufacturers of chillers used for comfort cooling in buildings reported that 2,585 units that use chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants were replaced or converted during 2003, leaving an estimated 36,200 chillers still using CFCs, according to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

ARI also said that during 2003 there were 187 conversions and 2,398 chillers replaced with non-CFC equipment utilizing alternative refrigerants accepted for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The pace of the phaseout has been slower than expected due in part to federal tax laws, which require depreciation of the chillers over 39 years.

Four U.S. House members, led by Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), have introduced H.R. 3953, the Cool and Efficient Buildings Act, to set the depreciation period at 15 years for "any property which is part of a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, or refrigeration system and which is installed on or in a building which is nonresidential real property."

According to Hoekstra, "The current 39-year depreciation periods on HVACR systems is not reflective of their average lifespan, and it is not cost effective. The Cool and Efficient Buildings Act will provide an incentive for businesses to invest in new equipment, which will save businesses money in the long run and provide another stimulus to the U.S. economy."

The legislation notes that the tax code change would decrease the nation's energy consumption by taking advantage "of the remarkable increase in energy efficiency due to the technological advances" achieved by the air conditioning industry.

To alert building owners to the operating cost savings from new higher-efficiency chillers, the EPA published "Building Owners Save Money, Save the Earth: Replace Your CFC Air Conditioning Chiller," which is available at

Publication date: 04/12/2004