Top Issues: Refrigerant Transition (AIM Act)

BACKGROUND: The AIM Act passed as part of the 2020 year-end consolidated appropriations act. It mandates an 85 percent reduction in the production and consumption of HFCs over 15 years, including HFC refrigerants like R-32 and R410A. What does this mean for contractors? It primarily means that there will be less HFC refrigerants in the marketplace and more A2L refrigerants, which are classified as mildly flammable. This will also be a shorter, quicker transition than previous refrigerant transitions that the industry has gone through (think CFCs). Within 3 years, contractors should expect to see a heavy influx of new A2L refrigerants and equipment. Contractors can expect to see a heavy influx of new A2L refrigerants and equipment in the near future.

PROBLEM: HFC refrigerants are being replaced mostly by mildly flammable A2L refrigerants as well as flammable A3 refrigerants in certain, specific end-use cases. Flammability is not something contractors have to worry about with HFC or CFC refrigerants. While A2Ls are perfectly safe if handled correctly, there are potential hazards.

SOLUTION: Contractors should prepare themselves and their teams:

  1. They should understand how the new systems and materials work. Members should discuss A2L refrigerants and systems with distributors and OEMs if possible.
  2. They should have their teams trained on A2L safety. As a longstanding champion of contractor safety, ACCA has developed a first of its kind contractor safety training program for A2L refrigerants, which is available on our website.

SOLUTION: ACCA supports a safe and orderly transition away from HFCs to A2L refrigerants. ACCA has pressed the EPA to take this opportunity to update its refrigerant handling requirements (608), which have not been updated in years. ACCA believes that the industry stands to benefit from comprehensive updates to EPA’s refrigerant handling requirements. Especially given the introduction of mildly flammable A2Ls into the marketplace, ACCA believes that refrigerant licensing should include a safety component, periodic updates that reflect the state of the HVAC-R marketplace, as well as periodic re-testing for certification.