ARLINGTON, Va. - To reduce emissions by manufacturing facilities that either produce, use, store, or transport refrigerants, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), released new guidelines for handling refrigerants to minimize their potential environmental impact. According to ARI, it applies to facilities making both residential and commercial equipment.

"The new guidelines recommend specific steps to help our industry further reduce emissions and further improve our already good record of handling refrigerants," said William Sutton, ARI's president.

According to a 2005 industry survey, in the past 10 years the air conditioning and refrigeration industry has made substantial expenditures to control refrigerant emissions. More than 70 percent of survey respondents said they have reduced emissions by 25 percent to 75 percent at their facilities, and more than 50 percent of respondents built new facilities with a zero emission goal.

Some of the refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are greenhouse gases. ARI's responsible-use guide contains specific recommendations for minimizing their release into the environment during every phase of the manufacturing process. Also included in the guide are sections on refrigerant recovery, waste handling, storage, and equipment shipment and transportation. The guide suggests, under the operational practices for manufacturing, laboratories, and plant air conditioning systems that valves, seals, pumps, tanks, piping, etc. should be designed to specifically prevent refrigerant emissions.

Examples of other recommendations include: Using a process to detect refrigerant loss during manufacturing; minimizing refrigerant emissions through preventive maintenance of refrigerant handling equipment; recovering and recycling waste refrigerants if possible; properly storing refrigerants in pressure vessels that meet national, state, and local regulations; monitoring transported or shipped equipment for leakage and taking corrective action when necessary; and designing packaging to minimize refrigerant loss during shipping.

The guide can be downloaded at

Publication date: 03/27/2006