AHRI President Stephen Yurek addressed the role of the HVACR industry in energy and environmental policy during the United Nations Environment Program conference in Milan last month. He reminded his audience of the vital role of HVACR products in the health, comfort, safety, and productivity of the world’s citizens, while noting that "not every product, not every process can have a zero-sum environmental outcome."
Addressing the need for a cautious approach regarding refrigerant use, Yurek warned that if the industry is not successful in communicating with policy makers, we could end up in a situation where well-meaning regulations are promulgated in Europe, the U.S., and other places that could have unintended, yet dangerous consequences for industry and our customers.
"While HFCs are a very important part of the global refrigerant mix, AHRI believes that manufacturers must, at least for the foreseeable future, have access to a variety of refrigerants and that they should be free to use the proper refrigerant for the appropriate application. There are many other available refrigerants but, like HFCs, each has its advantages and its drawbacks."
Yurek went on to explain those advantages and drawbacks, drawing the conclusion that "while alternatives to HFCs are available and indeed are in use in some applications, refrigerant choice must be maintained if we are to have an appropriate mix of available refrigerants for the number of applications for which they are needed."
Industry must simultaneously work to maintain refrigerant choice – including HFCs – while preparing for a potential phase down of those refrigerants. He said that "we must ensure that in the event HFCs are to be phased down, the transition is orderly and incentives are provided for the development of new refrigerants that have both a low GWP and high energy efficiency…," which he acknowledged is not an easy task.
He concluded his remarks with a call for a government – industry research partnership to explore alternative refrigerants for the future.
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