AHRI made a bold announcement today during a White House event. Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, announced that the HVACR industry will invest $5 billion in research and development funds over the next decade to develop the next generation of refrigerants and the air conditioning and refrigeration equipment in which they will be used.

The event, sponsored by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, highlighted the positive work by the private sector in developing alternatives to high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.

Yurek told those in attendance, which included Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and State Department Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, that the HVACR industry has been proactive in developing refrigerants with lower GWP.

“Close to $2 billion has been spent by the industry since 2009 researching energy-efficient equipment and the utilization of low-GWP refrigerants,” Yurek stated, “and over the next 10 years, the HVACR industry will invest an additional $5 billion for R&D and capital expenditures to develop and commercialize low-GWP technologies.”

Yurek touted the positive, proactive efforts by the HVACR and water heating industry in energy conservation and environmental stewardship. He said that in the late 1980s, the industry supported international efforts to protect the ozone layer by developing non-chlorine-containing refrigerants, and agreeing to an aggressive timetable to phase-out ozone depleting chemicals while steadily improving the energy efficiency of its equipment.

“During the past decade, the industry has worked diligently to reduce the potential impact on the Earth's climate of refrigerants used in our equipment,” Yurek said.

He noted that, with no encouragement from government, AHRI and its member companies launched the Low-GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program in 2011, the first phase of which was completed at the end of 2013. The second phase of the program is currently underway. The intent of the program is to evaluate different refrigerants in several applications.

“The industry is committed to working with the international community in transitioning away from high-GWP refrigerants in a managed and orderly process, and this research is a tangible part of that commitment,” he said.