Energy and Atmosphere Guidelines

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E.4 Atmospheric Protection

Encourage the investigation and evaluation of refrigerants to reduce environmental impacts harmful to the atmosphere. Energy conservation should be achieved with the lowest reasonable environmental impacts.

Recommended Performance Criteria
There are no required levels for atmospheric pollution from refrigerants at this time except for CFC reduction which is required in the MN State Building Code. It is recommended that the following three criteria be met for refrigerants.

  1. Achieve an atmospheric Lifetime (AtL) < 33. Atmospheric Lifetime is a measure of the average persistence of the refrigerant if released. A longer lifetime has worse environmental effects.
  2. Achieve an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) < 0.034. Ozone Depletion Potential is a normalized indicator based on the ability of a refrigerant to destroy atmospheric ozone, where CFC-11 = 1.00. A higher ODP has worse environmental effects.
  3. Achieve a Global Warming Potential (GWP) < 3500. Global Warming Potential is an indicator of the potency of the refrigerant to warm the planet by action as a greenhouse gas. A higher GWP has worse environmental effects.
  4. Design, maintain and operate the mechanical equipment to reduce refrigerant leakage over the life of the building.

Compliance Tools and Resources
For Items A, B and C above:

Note: CFCs generally have high Ozone Depletion Potential and Global Warming Potential with long Atmospheric Lifetimes. CFCs are therefore not allowed by these guidelines and prohibited by State law. Halons have a higher Ozone Depletion Potential though a lower Global Warming Potential but a much longer Atmospheric Lifetime. Halons should not be used if possible. HCFCs such as R-123, which other guides put in the same class as Halons, can have an Ozone Depletion Potential, a Global Warming Potential and an Atmospheric Lifetime two orders of magnitude less than CFCs and Halons. HFCs offer near zero Ozone Depletion Potential, but some have high Global Warming Potential. For example, R-134 has an Ozone Depletion Potential of 0.0 but a Global Warming Potential and an Atmospheric Lifetime approximately 10 times greater than R-123, an HCFC alternative. Substituting an HFC, which tends to be less energy efficient than an HCFC, may result in the use of more energy, resulting in a further increase in global warming.

Related B3 Guidelines Documents

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