Building owners in the United States last year replaced or converted 2,594 comfort cooling chillers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), leaving an estimated 38,800 of the units that still rely on CFC refrigerants which were banned from production in the United States due to concerns about depletion of the Earth's protective ozone layer.

A survey of chiller manufacturers released annually by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) showed the impact of the weak U.S. economy in 2002 as the pace slowed from earlier years. ARI said there were 379 conversions and 2,215 chillers replaced with non-CFC equipment using alternative refrigerants.

There were approximately 80,000 large tonnage liquid chillers using CFCs in the early 1990s when phaseout of the units began in preparation for an end to production of CFCs on December 31, 1995. Offices, malls, hospitals, airports, factories, sports complexes, government buildings, and institutions use chilled water that is circulated through a building to control temperature and humidity.

New, non-CFC chillers are vastly more efficient, reducing electricity and maintenance costs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "A new, energy-efficient chiller can easily pay for itself in electricity savings, improved reliability and lower maintenance costs in five years."

The EPA booklet entitled "Building Owners Save Money, Save the Earth," which is available at, notes that "Building owners around the world have saved millions of dollars in electricity bills by upgrading air conditioning chiller installations and through concurrent investments to reduce building cooling load. Today's chillers use about one-third or less electricity compared to those produced just two decades ago." Stockpiled virgin CFC refrigerants and CFCs reclaimed from chillers no longer in service are the only sources of supply of CFCs available to building owners. According to the survey, manufacturers expect in 2003 approximately 2,549 replacements and 334 chiller conversions bringing the year-end total to 44,072 which is 55% of the 80,000 large tonnage liquid chillers that used CFCs, usually CFC-11 or CFC-12.