One Leak at a Time: Embedding Refrigerant Management in Building Electrification and Decarbonization Strategies
Refrigerant leaks in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems can hinder progress toward decarbonization goals because hydrofluorocarbons, a family of refrigerants used across all markets, are greenhouse gases (GHG) thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.
One effective method for meeting building sector decarbonization goals is to adopt strategies to address refrigerant leaks and support them with adequate investments, training, and measurement and verification. If designed and implemented effectively, refrigerant management offers a path for utilities to expand their traditional efficiency offerings to include decarbonization initiatives recognized by, approved by, and accepted by regulators.
Presented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, this paper shows how a Vermont efficiency program created the nation’s first incentivized statewide refrigerant leak repair program, and how the success of leak repair contributed to the regulatory approval of a dedicated GHG performance metric for the state. The paper also describes the GHG savings methods and shows how they support both energy efficiency performance metrics and state decarbonization goals.
Analyzing programs in DC and New York, the paper shows how DC’s efficiency programs use refrigerant management to support achievement of their own GHG goals, and how New York drives market adoption of refrigerant management through contractor training and education, supporting high-quality HVAC installation practices and decarbonization goals.
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