Danfoss, Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, and several other HVAC companies participated in the industry leader roundtable hosted by the White House to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 

Held on October 15 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the event convened leading executives from refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment and component manufacturers, refrigerant producers and industry associations in a roundtable briefing of senior White House officials, including Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. The event was moderated by Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor Brian Deese, who oversees climate, conservation, and energy policy.

The Administration’s Climate Action Plan seeks to leverage new opportunities to reduce HFCs. U.S. industry is leading the way in helping fulfill that pledge by investing millions of dollars to develop and deploy the next generation of safer HFC alternatives, and by incorporating climate-friendly technologies into the cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, foams, and other products they manufacture and use.

During the event, John Galyen, president of Danfoss North America, provided an update on the Codes and Standards Task Force that the company announced it would convene and facilitate during a similar industry roundtable at the White House in September 2014.

Last year, Danfoss committed to convene a Codes and Standards Task Force to address a major barrier in broad adoption of mildly flammable, low-GWP refrigerants.

“State and local fire and building codes are major barriers to the broad deployment and adoption of low-GWP refrigerants in the United States,” explained Galyen. “These codes often prohibit the use of flammable or even mildly flammable refrigerants, even in very small amounts less than a typical aerosol spray can. Since they are developed and mandated locally — across hundreds or thousands of jurisdictions — codes are difficult to change and create an effective obstacle to manufacturers offering products with low-GWP refrigerants that may be flammable or mildly flammable.”

The Task Force, which comprises a broad and diverse stakeholder group of experts from industry, environmental advocacy groups, EPA, UL, codes officials, fire marshals, and other stakeholders with a vested interest, is focused on accelerating the implementation of fire and building codes for mildly flammable, low-GWP refrigerants.

“The Task Force has already taken several steps,” Galyen explained. “We have launched a communications plan to educate industry on the need for revised standards and codes. We have worked with ASHRAE to keep its development of standards on track and have been active at the meetings of its refrigerant safety Standard 15 committee. We have actively engaged the model code groups to gain support in preparing codes once the standard is ready. And, we have established a sub-committee to work with states and municipalities. Acting together, the group has authored several articles and secured speaking engagements with influential audiences vital to support this transition.”

Galyen continued, “Future progress is highly dependent on ASHRAE Standard 15, which is delayed because additional testing and analytical work is needed. Some of that work is being done, but some still needs funding. Without the needed research, we risk missing the three-year code cycle which can protract and complicate the conversion to low-GWP alternatives. Administration support at that critical moment could be decisive.”

“We ask for the Administration’s support in encouraging local and state governments in the timely adoption of the standards once completed,” he continued. “During the next 12 months, the Task Force will continue collaboration with ASHRAE, the model code groups, firefighter associations, state code groups, and state and city governance associations. As the ASHRAE Standard 15 nears publication, the Task Force will help prepare, coordinate, and submit code proposals.”

To further its commitment to the adoption of low-GWP refrigerants, Danfoss also announced a multi-million dollar investment in a new Application and Development Testing Center in the United States to increase the amount of available laboratory capacity to help air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers prepare to meet both energy efficiency and refrigerant regulations.

During the White House roundtable Johnson Controls reaffirmed its $50 million, three-year R&D commitment to developing and expanding its existing low global warming potential (GWP) product portfolio.

Since last year, the company invested $15 million in research and development of low-GWP refrigerants and component technology for scroll, screw, and centrifugal compressor-based products. Over the past decade, Johnson Controls says it has reduced refrigerant charge in equipment by nearly 30% while improving efficiency over 40%, which has a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas.

In addition to the investment disclosed at the Council on Environmental Quality roundtable meeting last October, Johnson Controls announced that over the next 12 months the company will complete the following:

• Develop high-efficiency, low-GWP refrigerant options in its commercial air-conditioning and industrial refrigeration product portfolio.

• Offer equipment that can be readily retrofitted with low-GWP options for customers concerned that they will not receive the full value over the entire life of their equipment.

• Develop aftermarket retrofit services for customers who desire to convert their existing equipment to low-GWP refrigerants.

Ingersoll Rand was also in attendance at the White House event to provide progress on its Climate Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its products and operations by 2030. The Ingersoll Rand Climate Commitment is a pledge to cut the refrigerant-related greenhouse gas footprint of its products by 50% by 2020 and incorporate lower GWP alternatives across its portfolio by 2030.

The company has also committed to investing $500 million in product-related research and development over the next five years to fund the long-term reduction of GHG emissions, and reduce company operations-related GHG emissions by 35% by 2020.

At the White House event, the company shared that its Thermo King® trailer, self-powered truck, and marine refrigeration products with strong efficiency performance and lower-GWP refrigerants will be available to U.S. customers by 2017, pending U.S. EPA Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) approval. And that its Trane® high-performance chiller portfolio with low-GWP refrigerant alternatives will be available in the U.S. by the end of 2018, with commercial availability dependent on receiving SNAP approval for select new refrigerants. These products are part of the Ingersoll Rand EcoWise portfolio that endorses the company’s refrigerant bearing products that meet certain criteria for safety, efficiency, refrigerant use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“In delivering our Climate Commitment, we made a profound, long-term environmental pledge to our employees, customers, and shareholders to address the unsustainable global demand for energy resources and its impact on the environment,” said Paul Camuti, senior vice president of innovation and chief technology officer of Ingersoll Rand. “We have transformed our approach to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions and are making strong progress in reducing the climate impact of our portfolio. We are encouraged to see so many in the HVAC industry joining us to tackle the global challenges surrounding climate change and resource scarcity.”