Refrigerant Transition Update

The Refrigerant Transition topic was a key focus at the CMPX event in Toronto last week. A panel of six experts discussed the various issues and concerns at CMPX.

This will be a primary issue in 2024/25 and will require significant resources from HRAI and its members to ensure a smooth transition to new, lower GWP products.

In theory, the shift towards using low-GWP products makes sense, given today's climate change priorities. Doing so, however, means moving from fluids that are classified by ASHRAE as A1 (non-toxic, non-flammable) to alternatives that fall into the A2L category (non-toxic, but slightly flammable). This is an important distinction as it means shifting an entire industry towards materials that are not currently recognized by Canadian regulations.

On that front, HRAI has been actively working with both Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the provincial regulators to ensure that our codes and standards are adapted to ensure we can handle, transport, service and install products charged with the new refrigerants.

It is often said that when the United States coughs, Canada catches a cold. This is certainly the case with the refrigerant transition. In December, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that no products can be manufactured in the U.S. containing high GWP refrigerants after January 1, 2025. Most of the Air Conditioners, Heat Pump, and refrigerant equipment currently sold in Canada comes from U.S.-based OEM’s.

HRAI is pleased to report that CSA B52 Chapter 13 was released at the end of 2023 allowing us to meet with provincial authorities to encourage early adoption of B52 to ensure installation of lower GWP products can proceed in their region. Most of the provinces have agreed to an early adoption with most being completed by October 2024.

We are also delighted to share the news that after months of dialogue with ECCC, the agency has consented to conduct a Stock review of the ODSHAR earlier than previously scheduled. This was originally slated for 2027/28 and is now set to commence later this year.

ECCC is currently in the preparatory phase for the review and plans to involve stakeholders in the coming months. The focus is to update ECCC’s understanding of the use and integration of HFC alternatives in crucial sectors, notably refrigeration and air conditioning. This exploration is not only pertinent for the ODSHAR stock review but will also assist ECCC in various other aspects.

To this end, ECCC seeks to involve HRAI members in this review process. They have committed to collaborate with stakeholders in the air conditioning and refrigeration industries. This initiative seeks to gather insights on the current state of HFC alternatives' usage and adoption in Canada. HRAI is committed to working alongside ECCC to foster an open exchange of information between ECCC and our members, wherever feasible.

We anticipate initiating this engagement in late April or early May. This achievement is a testament to the dedication of our working group and the broader membership community.

Our next steps include coordinating with ECCC to clarify the desired format and scope of industry engagement. While the outcomes of such engagements cannot be guaranteed, our proactive approach has ensured that we will have a voice in these crucial discussions.

This file will remain active over the coming months, but we are advancing the industry position on all fronts.

This move to more flammable refrigerants will require service people to be retrained. HRAI has launched a new training program that provides the basics on handling and servicing products with the new lower GWP refrigerants. https://www.hrai.ca/flammable-online-course

As more information becomes available, we will continue to communicate with the HRAI membership base and key stakeholders.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to reach out to me at smacleod@hrai.ca.


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