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Guideline E.4: Atmospheric Protection

Intent

To select refrigerants that reduce environmental impacts, including harm to the environment, risk to human health, and ozone depletion potential.

Required Performance Criteria

Guidelines apply to all new equipment procured for a project and recommended for the retrofit of existing equipment.

  1. When selecting equipment, choose refrigerants used in new and repaired equipment not designated “unacceptable” for current application under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP) in order to limit ozone depletion, human health, and Global Warming Potential (GWP) impacts.
  2. Design, maintain, and operate mechanical equipment to reduce refrigerant leakage over the life of the building following updated Clean Air Act Section 608 requirements and guidelines. This is achieved by adhering to the following:
    1. Equipment containing 2,000 lbs. or more of refrigerant with a GWP of 150 or greater must include an automatic leak detection (ALD) device.
    2. Facilities shall conduct quarterly leak inspections or use ALD devices for equipment containing more than 50 lbs. of refrigerant.
    3. For equipment containing more than 50 lbs. of refrigerant, leaks must be repaired, subject to a plan for repair, or retired within 30 days of leak detection or refrigerant recharge for thresholds listed in Section 608.
    4. For equipment containing between five and 50 lbs. of refrigerant, refrigerant recovery recordkeeping requirements must be met per Section 608. For equipment of this size with annual leakage rates of 10% or greater, equipment operators must implement leak reduction measures sufficient to identify and minimize future leaks. Repaired systems must be monitored at least quarterly to ensure leak reduction is maintained.

Recommended Performance Criteria

  1. At the time of equipment selection, refrigerants used in new and repaired equipment may not be listed as “unacceptable,” for any future implementation date, under the EPA SNAP in order to limit ozone depletion, human health, and GWP impacts.
  2. GreenChill Certification: Document reduced impact of refrigeration used in food retailing by achieving a platinum, gold, or silver level in the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership program.

Early in the design process, communicate the requirements of this guideline to the project team members, consultants, and contractors that will select equipment with refrigerants.

If the project is relocating an existing facility and will move existing equipment, document what equipment will be repaired and retained as part of the project. Evaluate if low-impact refrigerants such as ammonia or carbon dioxide are compatible with the needed equipment. Ensure that refrigerants used in this process are listed as acceptable under the SNAP program. Use compliant alternatives as needed. For transitioning existing equipment to SNAP-compliant refrigerants, ensure that any existing refrigerant is recovered and appropriately disposed of according to EPA reporting and disposal requirements.

As the design progresses, ensure that the list of refrigerant-containing equipment is up-to-date. During project closeout, ensure that any alternatives permitted are also compliant with this section’s requirements. If any refrigerant selected is slated for a future SNAP phase-out, evaluate possible alternative refrigerants.

At project’s substantial completion, ensure that equipment operators are familiar with installed leak detection equipment and that any required monitoring schedules are in place. Ensure that facility operators are aware of all Section 608 requirements, including ongoing operations and maintenance requirements.

Design:

  • 4A: List the equipment types with refrigerant that are part of this project.

Final Design:

  • 4A: Submit equipment list and selected refrigerants specified for the project, including confirmation that all are SNAP approved for use at the time of installation.
  • 4B: List all refrigerant leak detection methods specified for the project for equipment with 50 lbs. or more refrigerant. Document process for ensuring EPA recordkeeping standards are met during operation, including remediation measure for smaller equipment.
  • 4C: List all SNAP-approved refrigerants used in the project showing no phase-out date listed.

Closeout:

  • 4A: Submit equipment list and selected refrigerants installed in the project, including confirmation that all are SNAP approved for use at the time of installation.
  • 4B: List all refrigerant leak detection methods or processes for equipment with 50 lbs. of refrigerant or greater. Document process for ensuring EPA record keeping standards are met during operation, including remediation measure for smaller equipment.
  • 4D: Provide certification of platinum, gold, or silver certification from the GreenChill program.

EPA Significant New Alternatives Policy, Reducing Hydrofluorocarbon Use and Emissions in the Federal Sector: https://www.epa.gov/snap/reducing-hydrofluorocarbon-hfc-use-and-emissions-federal-sector

Section 608 Stationary Refrigerant Leak Repair Requirements: https://www.epa.gov/section608/revised-section-608-refrigerant-management-regulations

California Air Resource Board High-GWP definition: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/documents/high-gwp-refrigerants

High Global Warming Potential (High-GWP) Refrigerant

A high-GWP refrigerant is a refrigerant that has a global warming potential of 150 or greater.

Natural Refrigerant

A natural refrigerant is a naturally occurring substance that can act as a refrigerant, such as ammonia or carbon dioxide. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are not considered natural refrigerants. Note that some natural refrigerants may be toxic or flammable.