USA: A leading energy and environmental body has warned that a proposed amendment to local US building codes could disrupt the move to lower flammability A2L refrigerants in the USA.
CLASP, the Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program, says that changes to the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), due to be voted on tomorrow (November 17) by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), do not align with international standards and building codes used in about 80% of the US market and will impose requirements that would be difficult for manufacturers to meet.
Under the US transition plan to lower GWP refrigerants, as detailed in the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, some US state and local building codes do not yet allow the use of A2L refrigerants in heat pumps and air conditioners.
According to CLASP, building codes covering around 20% of the US HVAC market are modelled after the Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), which is maintained by IAPMO.
This code is due to be updated this year, but CLASP says that the IAPMO Standards Council is set to act against the wishes of its members when they meet to vote on November 17.
“The UMC is maintained by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) an organisation where anyone — members and non-members alike — can have a voice and a vote on proposed changes to the code,” explained CLASP’s senior director of research, Ari Reeves.
The IAPMO membership met in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 13, 2022, where the HVAC industry and climate advocates mobilised to support A2L refrigerants.
“A clear majority of the 466 IAPMO members present voted in favour of revising the UMC to permit the use of these climate-friendly refrigerants,” Reeves insists. “The approved revision would align the UMC with building codes used elsewhere in the United States.”
“Despite the demonstration of support, the IAPMO Standards Council is poised to adopt an alternative amendment that, while allowing A2L, also imposes additional, more stringent, requirements on manufacturers that would be burdensome to meet. This choice would not align with international standards and the building codes used in about 80% of the US market, nor the will of the membership.”
The IAPMO amendment is said to place restrictions on sensor requirements, as well as limiting releasable charge size and leak mitigation techniques.
Ari Reeves says the decision to ignore the Charlotte vote outcome is “risky”, with potential consequences including distrust in the voting process, a substantial roadblock in the US HVAC industry’s transition to lower GWP refrigerants, and up to 20% of US consumers not being able to purchase the new equipment.
UPDATE: November 21
UMC code change: important steps remain – 21 November 2022
USA: The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has denied claims that a recent vote might block the move to lower flammability A2L refrigerants in the USA. Read more…