EPA announced three new actions that will help support a smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs, including:
- listing additional fluorinated and non-fluorinated chemicals as acceptable alternatives in a variety of industry applications;
- identifying refrigerant management options to reduce HFC emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; and
- organizing with stakeholder engagement a series of sector-specific workshops on seeking transitions away from high global warming potential HFCs.
The class of chemicals to which R-134a belongs — called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — became popular as a replacement for Freon, the refrigerant banned since the 1990s for damaging the Earth’s ozone layer. Most HFCs are harmless to ozone, but collectively they have become a significant driver of climate change — some are up to 10,000 times as potent per ounce as carbon dioxide, climate scientists say.
The new efforts build upon progress and commitments already made under EPA’s GreenChill partnership, which works with the supermarket industry to transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, reduce the amount of refrigerant used, and eliminate harmful refrigerant leaks. If supermarkets nationwide reduce refrigerant leaks to the current GreenChill Partner average of 12.4 percent, they could generate annual cost savings of over $100 million across the industry while preventing the annual emission of about 27 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2eq), which is equal to emissions from the generation of electricity use by more than 3.7 million homes annually.
At the roundtable gathering, GreenChill Partners Target and Hillphoenix announced new commitments and technologies to curb potent greenhouse gases. Target announced that it is expanding its use of HFC-free refrigeration systems, partnering with chemical producers to test the next generation of climate-friendly refrigerants, and working with a beverage cooler manufacturer to test HFC-free solutions this fall. Hillphoenix announced that it is commercializing a new, more energy efficient, HFC-free CO2 booster system, and introducing an HFC-free hydrocarbon self-contained door case. Kroger and Port Townsend Food Co-op of Port Townsend, Wash., also announced that they joined EPA’s GreenChill Partnership. (EPA, Wash Post, 9/16/2014)