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US consultant calls for switch to HFOs

USA: A leading international engineering consultancy has called on US building owners and designers to use less refrigerants and more environmentally friendly options in HVAC systems.

In a new white paper, Quantifying The Social Impact Of Refrigerant Choices, Buro Happold refers to refrigerants as “significant contributors to climate change, and one of the most impactful factors in the construction industry”.

The authors, from Buro Happold’s US office, lay out a case for moving immediately to the use of low GWP HFOs in place of HFCs.

“The most impactful and simple way for the construction industry to decrease its carbon footprint is to eliminate the use of harmful refrigerants with high GWP,” the report says. It points to California that has mandated HFC phaseouts starting in 2024, but emphasises: “There is no reason to wait until 2024 to stop using harmful refrigerants though, seeing as improved alternatives already exist.”

The firm insists that it continues to educate owners on what is available in the market but says it is also encouraging HVAC equipment manufacturers to expedite development of systems that are compatible with HFOs and to minimise refrigerant leakage.

Summarising the report, lead authors Julian Parsley, Sara Kingman and Yensi Izquierdo said: “While most HFC refrigerants, including R134a and R410A, must be discontinued for commercial use in new chillers by 2024, there is no reason to wait until then to start finding ways to incorporate more environmentally friendly refrigerant systems into our buildings.” 

The white paper is available to download here.

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