NASRC: 2016 Year in Review


Dear NASRC members and fellow stakeholders,

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is upon us. With just a few days left in the year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the amazing work NASRC members have supported over the last 12 months. Here are some of the highlights:

NASRC is 50 members strong!

NASRC is a 501(c)(3) membership-based nonprofit, which means we depend on our members for funding and more importantly, for their involvement. Our membership includes end-users, contractors, engineering firms, consulting firms, systems manufactures, component manufacturers, utilities and nonprofits and even a couple of individuals. I like to say that NASRC is a platform; we’re bringing all of our members together to take action toward positive environmental change.

A big thank you to our founding members: Bitzer, Carter, Danfoss, Hillphoenix, Parker Hannifin, Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Inc., and True Manufacturing. These companies continue to lead and drive the market forward for non-fluorinated refrigeration options. In addition to our founding members  (all seven of which renewed as platinum members for their second year), we have some fantastic platinum member companies that are all doing very cool stuff with natural refrigerant technology:  AB Group, Bitzer Canada, Emerson, Groom Energy, and Systems LMP.

Over 100 resources & growing!

NASRC’s mission is to advance natural refrigerants because of their clear environmental benefits. We recognize there are challenges that currently limit the wider uptake of natural refrigerant equipment, and that “someone” needs to address those challenges if we want to see natural refrigerants really succeed in North America. NASRC is that “someone,” and to that end, we have progress groups focused on tackling these specific challenges. One piece of the puzzle though, simply comes down to education and awareness. You don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s certainly true when it comes to non-fluorinated refrigerants like CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons.

We’re focused on pulling together all sorts of resources for the benefit of our members. Some of this stuff is easily found on the Internet, but we’re doing the work putting it all in one place. Other stuff is unique and could be just what you’re looking for, like our NASRC CO2 equipment installation specification and user guide, both of which are now available for free in the members-only portion of our library. We also have a growing collection of NASRC case studies. These are simple, two-page documents written and reviewed by end-users. Take a few minutes and explore the NASRC Resource Library for yourself.

Getting involved, utilizing & amplifying the voice of our members

Education and providing resources is one part of what we do, another is getting involved in public processes like state and federal level policy development, and updates to relevant codes and standards. In other cases, NASRC has gone on the offensive in the name of advancing natural refrigerants. Here are a few of things we’ve been up to:

·      Commenting to the California Air Resources Board on their various proposals and strategies that address HFCs (including the Investment Plan for using Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund monies and the Short Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy). NASRC is a strong supporter of funding to incentivize or support low-GWP refrigerant projects as a strategy for driving faster transition out of high-GWP HFCs.

·      Commenting to the U.S. EPA in support of including natural refrigerant questions on the updated section 608 technician certification exam. EPA expects to finish updates in the first half of 2017 and has said it intends to include safety questions on natural refrigerants.

·      Rallying support for inclusion of A3 refrigerants (i.e. hydrocarbons) in the flammable refrigerant research funded by ASHRAE, AHRI and the U.S. DOE, which initially was scoped to focus mainly on A2L fluorocarbon refrigerants. With financial support from California, these studies will now all include A3 refrigerants as well.

·      Working with NASRC member Target to engage the National Fire Protection Association. We scoped out a research project focused specifically on propane charge sizes and flammability risk, found sponsors, and now the research is on track to start in early 2017.

Sometimes it really does have to be a team effort

Those of you who live and breath refrigeration know there are plenty of companies doing very cool stuff with CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbon refrigeration equipment (like most of our NASRC members!) Despite the fantastic work many of you are doing with respect to R&D, training, support, data collection, so on and so know the market isn’t moving in this direction as quickly as we would like. As a diverse collection of industry stakeholders (many of whom are even direct competitors) NASRC is uniquely positioned to provide certain “services.”

Our August 4, 2016 workshop is one great example. We brought together end-users (mainly supermarkets) and utilities to discuss natural refrigerant incentives: why they make sense for both parties, how they could drive positive change, what some of the challenges are for utilities and how industry can help address those challenges. NASRC doesn’t sell equipment, or promote a certain technology, but we do have lots of end-user members and plenty of utility connections. Which is to say, we are well suited to facilitating and organizing open conversations about how to move forward in this space.

I’m excited to announce that we have a second workshop, more broadly scoped and open to all types of participants, scheduled for March 30th, 2017. Invitations and more details on that workshop will come in the first half of January. The inspiration for this upcoming event was born out of our August 4th workshop, to be sure, but also out of the clear need to discuss the use of CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons more widely. If we really want to drive change now, we need to capitalize on the interest and money available for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Its time to get the word out about natural refrigerants and their ability to basically slice in half the carbon footprint of commercial buildings like supermarkets and C-stores.

Progress groups are making progress

At the very heart of NASRC are our progress groups. Seven groups comprised of NASRC members, each focused on a specific challenge that stagnates the success of natural refrigerants. You can read about the exact goals and the progress made within each group at: Here’s one (or more) major accomplishment from each group:

Codes / standards - Constantly engaging with ASHRAE and UL, this group is vocal with respect to the key standards and codes that affect natural refrigerants. We’ve put a lot of effort into making sure A3 refrigerants get at least the same attention and focus as the newer A2Ls, most recently by securing sponsorship to support propane research conducted by the National Fire Protection Association.

Contractors / service technicians – supporting RETA in the development of a complete commercial CO2 training for technicians, taking advantage of the great educational material our NASRC members already use within their own companies. We need all hands on deck in 2017 to make sure the final draft of this training is as outstanding as we envision, but work is well undeway.

Best practices – With support from member DC Engineering, we authored a transcritical CO2 installation specification and user guide. Also, our case study “sub-group” has four final case studies, with two more in the works. Expect big things from this group in the future related to CO2 system options and your how-to guide for CO2 retrofits.

Utilities & incentives – This group is instrumental in the initial planning of NASRC workshops, but we’re also a diverse group that prides itself on making connections between end-users, OEMs, utilities, energy efficiency groups and a-typical stakeholders that may have a future role to play in the incentives space.

Policy – Involved in the U.S EPA SNAP application for increasing propane charge limit to 1 kg. That application has recently been deemed complete, and EPA will now work to make a determination. This group also participated (and continues to participate) extensively in California policy development when it comes to anything involving refrigerants.

Return on Investment – A specialized group of end-users and design firms, this group has established a formal relationship with HARDI, the refrigeration distributor and wholesaler trade group. We’re addressing the issue of natural refrigerant supply and availability. Also working on a white paper that answers a lot of questions about relative component and lifecycle equipment costs.

Communications – This group is continually working to grow NASRC’s reach and audience, supporting NASRC efforts like our August 2016 GreenChill Partnership webinar. This group works to amplify and communicate all of the other good stuff going on within NASRC and helps drive membership.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

Liz, Executive Director of NASRC