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Standards and Codes

Updating existing standards and codes, which currently prevent market uptake of HFC-free alternatives, is critical to successful implementation of a global phase down of HFCs.

Standards are technical sets of rules and requirements, primarily developed by industry, that companies must meet in order to sell products that are considered safely designed. Unfortunately, many standards-setting organizations have not kept pace with the changes in technology that allow for HFC-free refrigerants to be safely used in many kinds of refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged by the President’s Climate Action Plan to allow climate-friendly, HFC-free refrigerants and products to enter the U.S. market. However, existing out-of-date standards have remained a prohibiting factor by preventing market acceptance of products that use HFC-free refrigerants that the EPA has listed as acceptable. The majority of these products that are currently blocked due to out-of-date standards in the U.S. are already in use throughout Europe and other countries around the world. The result is that the current standards in the U.S. are acting as a false barriers to market penetration of HFC-free products and are effectively preventing the replacement of HFC-based products.

Our goal is to accelerate the process of publishing and adoption of new, smart standards by the key standards-setting organizations: the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and International Organization on Standardization (ISO). This work is essential to ensure that sufficient HFC-free alternatives will be available on the market in order to enable a quick and ambitious HFC phase-down under the Montreal Protocol.

Key goals of this work include:

  • Convene technical experts to further the discussion of changing or updating standards through workshops and new working groups within standards organizations to examine data and research on new safety mechanisms and other relevant topics on HFC-free refrigerants.

  • Replace HFC-134a with climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants in the approximately 9 million new household refrigerators sold in the U.S. every year, eliminating nearly 3 million metric tons CO2e emissions annually resulting from the disposal of this equipment at the end of life.

  • Replace HFC-410A with hydrocarbons and CO2 in hundreds of millions of small and medium-sized household air conditioners and heat pumps sold around the world each year, mitigating hundreds of millions of CO2 equivalent annually.

  • Create standards for the use of natural refrigerants in commercial and industrial refrigeration and air conditioning applications based upon modern technologies, safety equipment, and training.

  • Ensure existing standards allowing the use of HFC-free refrigerants are maintained and/or improved, where needed.

R-290 Compressor

Objectives

  • Broaden stakeholder engagement in standards development
  • Accelerate adoption of updated standards, particularly in the U.S.
  • Remove market barriers posed by obsolete standards

Recent Blog Posts

Major Climate Win: Lessons for the Montreal Protocol
02/10/2021
Two new papers published in Nature suggest that the CFC-11 emissions are back on a downward trajectory potentially avoiding substantial delays in the recovery of the ozone layer. The papers show an accelerated decline in global atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11 from 2018 to 2019, and attribute 60% of the decline to China. This is a huge win for the ozone layer and our climate, which would not have been possible without a concerted global response to the findings from the ground and the atmosphere.
The AIM Act: Your Questions on U.S. HFC Legislation – Answered
01/07/2021
A new year’s gift for our climate came wrapped in the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress at the end of 2020. Among the bill’s several significant climate provisions is the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, or AIM Act, that enacts a phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Recent Reports

EIA Briefing on the IEC Standards Proposal for Air Conditioning
10/08/2020
With global stock of household air conditioners (ACs) expected to triple by 2050, continued use of HFCs in ACs is fueling the climate crisis.
Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem
11/06/2019
Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem

Recent Press Releases

U.S. Congress Passes Bipartisan HFC Legislation
12/23/2020
Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress this week to provide COVID relief and fund the U.S. government includes a bipartisan climate agreement to phase-down production and consumption of super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). The bill authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the 2016 agreement to phase down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and provides broader authority to manage existing sources of HFC emissions.
Unlocking Kigali Amendment Climate Benefits
08/17/2020
A new safety standard proposed by an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) working group is vital to maximizing emission reductions from a global phase-down of super pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
What are the HFC-free Technologies?
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly. Read EIA’s report Putting the Freeze on HFCs for hundreds of examples of HFC-free technologies available and in use today.
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases
What are HFCs?