HVACR Management and Refrigerants Tracking
Managing HVACR effectively for a business has always been about the need for accuracy. It sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. Precision isn’t achievable without a compliance program that has a full understanding of the complex array of regulatory requirements and the technology that is needed.
HVACR Regulations are always changing, too. In an industry that’s leading the charge against climate change, a proactive and precise approach has become more important than ever.
Some of the biggest threats to your HVACR compliance program will indeed be attachments to the past. Pushback from comfortably old-fashioned business leadership, reliance on an obsolete HVACR technology system and service, and archaic record-keeping methods can all present major obstacles.
Table of Contents:
- HVACR Compliance
- HFC Refrigerants
- Asset-Centric Refrigerant Management
- Compliance & Reporting Practices
- Refrigerant Tracking Software
- Conclusion: Refrigerant Geeks Unite
How much does a careful, precise “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” approach to HVACR compliance really matter for a business, the environment, and answering sustainability audit questions? Is accuracy worth the extra effort?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Compliance Saves You Money
HVACR regulatory compliance matters for the business bottom line. Effective HVACR compliance reporting enables your firm to save vast sums of money with more informed and efficient energy management and service (alongside these best practices) while avoiding lawsuits and fines.
Compliance Makes a Difference
Not only is a full accounting of all energy use, emissions, and refrigerant leaks for your business required for HVACR regulatory reasons, but it makes a real difference for environmental sustainability and corporate sustainability. Leaked refrigerants, for example, are proven to release more harmful materials into the atmosphere than all commercial airliners combined. They’re a crucial part of a company’s environmental footprint.
A Modern Solution Is Needed
Achieving perfect HVACR compliance may be one of the most complex projects for a person.
The reality on the ground is a 25% average annual leak rate for harmful refrigerants across all industries — well above regulatory goals. Coupled with a patchwork of HVACR regulations and an urgent push for tricky refrigerant phase downs (the law calls for an 85% reduction by 2036), the truth is that the traditional invoice is not enough.
Digital Leads the Way
Today your business has smart, digital options to learn. Modern HVACR and refrigerant management software, including regulatory compliance software and environmental compliance calendar software, is an essential tool in achieving compliance and mitigating risks, especially when many management processes (such as SCAQMD Rule 1415 registration) have moved online.
Operationalize Your HVACR Compliance
HVACR compliance success starts on the ground level of your business. You cannot remain successfully compliant without buy-in from and engagement no matter the person’s job, from the C-suite to contractors. A commitment to legal and regulatory compliance — and a culture of willingness to learn about initiatives — are critical to operationalizing your HVACR compliance.
Get Our Fugitive Emissions Guide
Over the next 15 years, a central focus of HVACR compliance management for business will be the drawdown of HFC refrigerants. A major shift in HFC refrigerant policy in our field occurred on September 23, 2021, when EPA Administrator Regan signed the final rule “Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Establishing the Allowance Allocation and Trading Program under the AIM Act.”
This rule established a comprehensive program to cap and phase down HFC production and consumption by 85% by 2036. Here’s the breakdown of the refrigerant phase out, which kicked off in 2021.
HFC Phasedown Schedule and Consumption & Production Allowance Caps
|Year||Consumption and Production Allowance Caps as a % of Baseline||Estimated consumption & production allowance caps in MMTEVe|
|Baselines||Consumption: 299 MMTEVe
Production: 375 MMTEVe
|2022-2023||90 percent||Consumption: 269.1
|2024-2028||60 percent||Consumption: 179.4
|2029-2033||30 percent||Consumption: 89.7
|2034-2035||20 percent||Consumption: 59.8
|2036 & after||15 percent||Consumption: 44.9
The AIM Act
The AIM Act itself sets out to grant the EPA the authority to control and manage HFC refrigerant through three separate regulatory programs:
- Phase down the production and consumption of HFCs;
- Manage HFCs; and
- Facilitate the transition to next-generation technologies.
These programs would seek to reduce reliance on many popular refrigerants, such as R-134a, R-125, R-32, and R-143a. You can read a more extensive breakdown of the AIM Act and affected refrigerants here.
SNAP Rules 20 & 21 enacted bans on certain HFC refrigerants in end-uses from air-conditioning to refrigeration. Both new and retrofit equipment was affected. The bans were partially cavated in the Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA decision in 2017, and a further 2018 guidance from the EPA was first seen to vacate the HFC bans entirely. After a countersuit, an April 2020 court decision found that the EPA guidance went too far. Read more about the SNAP Rule 20 and 21 lawsuit and implications here.
Refrigerant Recovery, Recycle, and Reuse Program
A new Refrigerant Recovery, Recycle, and Reuse (R4) program regulation came into effect in 2021, as an amendment to the HFC regulation. Reclamation had not been addressed in the rulings the previous year, but CARB’s new program proposes to establish a requirement for minimum use of reclaimed refgrigerant: 10% of the amount of R-4210A that enters California in new equipment from 2023 to 2024. At the very least, this will mean major changes to refrigeration equipment in California as early as 2023.
Asset-Centric Refrigerant Management
Comprehensive, accurate HVACR compliance practices are only possible with a precise accounting of all assets and buy-in from all involved parties in a business. With the next refrigerant transition firmly underway, this is a critical time to re-examine your approach to asset management.
The most common asset management challenges faced by a business are related to compliance, maintenance, and asset value & scope.
Keep Everyone Engaged
The best way to accommodate this approach is with a logic-driven, structured HVACR workflow system for your company, like Trakref, that tracks and controls how refrigerants are added, extracted, and transferred.
Cloud-based HVACR industry solutions like Trakref’s refrigerant management software make it easier than ever to help stakeholders understand your company. Read more about our EPA HFC refrigerant solutions here.
The most impactful measure for improving energy management and compliance performance in our industry is to benchmark. This means to measure and compare your expenditures and efficiency to similar buildings, historical data on your usage, or a target performance level. You may even use modeled simulations of a reference building built out to a specific code or other standards.
Excellent performance can save energy (and money) as well as earn you important industry recognitions. GreenChill certification, for example, is a prestigious high watermark for organizations in the supermarket industry, achieved via strong energy management performance. Individual pieces of equipment and other solutions that support energy management can also qualify for and achieve important certifications, such as from ENERGY STAR.
Trakref has become an ENERGY STAR Partner for Energy Management due in part to the growing solutions our software provides for benchmarking. Thorough benchmarking with software like Trakref can help you assess the efficiency of your building and apply for an ENERGY STAR Score (on a scale of 1-100 vs. a national median of 50).
Compliance & Reporting Practices
The methods that industry uses to handle HVACR leak tracking, compliance, and reporting — and the regulations that govern those reports — have changed drastically in the past decade. A continuous effort to improve and update all protocols is essential.
Improving HVACR Compliance
In July of 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released “The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs,” a report that Trakref uses to build accurate, compliant reporting practices. It’s common for compliance programs to evoke resentment from employees. Improving compliance (and therefore, reporting accuracy), requires a company to address 3 goals:
- Preventing compliance misconduct
- Detecting compliance misconduct (and holding individuals accountable)
- Aligning corporate policies with rules and laws
It’s critical that everyone understands their compliance obligations and applies them daily.
Improving HVACR Reporting
HVACR reporting metrics can be complex and multifaceted, with many aspects to build on. Due to issues including poor compliance practices and a poor general understanding of what’s required in the first place, hundreds of millions of pounds of refrigerant go unreported each year.
Using paper — or even Excel spreadsheets — for tracking and HVACR reports merely serves to complicate matters. The old way of doing things leads to duplicated data entry, gaps in communication, and HVACR data sources that are either never recorded or simply fall through the cracks.
There are many reporting protocols to use, but regardless of the precise framework, all companies are expected to meet the expectation of recording all usage and avoid common gaps, such as:
- Including Vehicles
- Equipment of All Sizes
- New & Old Equipment
- Estimates Based on Evidence
- Fire Suppression Systems
You are fully responsible for reporting and for any mistakes…so do what’s necessary to prevent them.
Refrigerant Tracking Software
Facility managers and contractors simply don’t have the time to learn complicated technologies and manually sort through HVACR regulations by the hundreds. The industry still runs heavily on paper and Excel — because it has never had to meet any other standard. While old ways may provide comfort, you should be moving toward more accurate ways to track data, especially as ESG reporting becomes mainstream.
At Trakref, we understand the technology a customer needs. Running dynamic commercial facilities is part of our DNA. What’s needed to improve management of HVACR and reporting is compliance technology including these features:
- Simple to use
- Built to streamline the workflow
- Appealing to technicians and executives alike
- Comprehensive in scope
- Effective for compliance, tracking, and reporting
- A real solution to the challenges you face
As a software corporation and environmental software provider, Trakref’s technology products save time and eliminate guesswork for everyone, no matter their job. Our patented cloud-based refrigerant management system consists of three individual solutions that all work together.
- Trakref V3: An advanced refrigerant tracking software that makes entering HVACR service tickets quick and simple to achieve compliance.
- Trakref Pro: A digital refrigerant journal that helps the entire team keep better records.
- SF6 Compliance With Trakref: Suited for multi-location, multi-vendor HVACR and refrigerant compliance management for all assets. Use it to meet standards including EPA 608, CARB RMP, SCAQMD1415, ANSI/ASHRAE Standards, ISO 14001, and more.
These dynamic technology resources simplify refrigerant tracking operations (and refrigerant software) so that you can get the most revenue out of each pound of refrigerant moving through your operation while minimizing risks. These are the technologies you need to take the next step in reducing your company’s carbon footprint and keep up with aggressive refrigerant phase downs while achieving ambitious compliance and financial goals.
Refrigerant Geeks Unite
Our technology resources have helped firms complete thousands of successful audits and track hundreds of millions of pounds of gas. It’s time to truly operationalize compliance efforts with an app that was designed for the front lines. Every leak you prevent from slipping through the cracks reduces energy costs and regulatory risks while saving money.
You can demo the Trakref refrigerant tracking app in just 15-minutes. Get in contact with a Refrigerant Geek today to get your organization back on track with our technology support. Our team is always on standby and ready to help if you have questions or concerns related to compliance, tracking, and reporting.
We also invite you to join the Geek Academy and stay up-to-date on HVAC and refrigerant management and technology topics and regulatory changes in our field. We provide compliance open mic events LIVE every-other week to discuss today’s top challenges and opportunities in HVACR so you can get in contact with HVACR pros and have access to the best resources.
If you’re interested in attending an upcoming event or webinar, reserve your spot now at the bottom of this page.
We are refrigerant geeks with proven techniques to manage leaks in our HVAC/R and refrigerant management software.