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NASRC New York Workshop Engages Key Stakeholders Early in Regulatory Process

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Albany, New York – The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently co-hosted a workshop, which aimed to help New York supermarkets prepare for future refrigerant regulations. The workshop provided a platform for key stakeholders – including supermarket retailers, service contractors, equipment manufacturers & suppliers, government agencies, utilities, engineering & design firms, consultants, and NGOs – to discuss challenges and solutions to advancing climate-friendly refrigerant technologies in New York State.

New York is one of a growing number of states that have announced plans to phase out Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) commonly used in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, as part of the US Climate Alliance commitment to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement. States have taken an interest in HFC regulations due to the high global warming potential (GWP) of these gases and the significant emissions reduction opportunity presented by phasing them out. But the transition to low-GWP refrigerants is anything but easy for a supermarket due to a unique set of market barriers.

“Our intention with this workshop was not only to educate stakeholders about future regulations and technology solutions, but also to create an opportunity to openly discuss challenges and identify actionable solutions that will allow all stakeholders to accomplish their goals,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of the NASRC.

And New York’s climate goals are considered especially ambitious, with their Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calling for carbon-free electricity by 2040 and an 85% reduction of economy-wide emissions by 2050 on the way to reaching net zero emissions.

The DEC opened the workshop with an overview of their refrigerant regulation plans in the context of their overall GHG reduction goals. Initially, the state will target phasing out high-GWP HFCs, in accordance with the vacated Federal EPA SNAP rules 20 and 21. This first phase is expected to stem the increase in emission that are expected in the coming decades, but the state will need to go further to achieve its climate targets.

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The workshop also featured educational presentations from industry experts on technology options that will meet current and future regulatory requirements. DC Engineering shared an overview of various system architectures and technologies using natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia, and hydrocarbon solutions. Representatives from Danfoss, Dorin, e2s, and Hussmann highlighted specific low-GWP refrigerant technologies, case studies, and opportunities for energy efficiency.    

Following the presentations, the NASRC facilitated a discussion of challenges and solutions to natural refrigerant adoption in both new and existing facilities in New York State.

“Having a diversity of key stakeholders together in one room gave us a unique opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives around challenges and potential solutions,” said Wright.

Cost was identified as the leading challenge in both new and existing facilities, including upfront equipment and labor costs and ongoing maintenance costs. The need for technician training and constraints with state and local building codes followed cost as key challenges associated with natural refrigerant adoption in new facilities. In existing facilities, attendees identified technology gaps and the need for need for regulatory clarity, certainty, and consistency as leading challenges.

The workshop closed with a discussion around potential solutions to each of the identified challenges. Together, the NASRC and the DEC intend to follow-up on these solutions to address each challenge within the context of New York State.

“NASRC is uniquely positioned to drive these solutions forward,” said Wright. “Addressing these challenges is not only a critical step to help supermarkets successfully navigate future HFC regulations, but it also opens up new opportunities for New York State and other stakeholders to effectively accomplish their climate goals.”

The workshop was made possible thanks to generous support from Coolsys, Danfoss, and Dorin. NASRC is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to removing the barriers to adoption of natural refrigerants in supermarket applications. To learn more or get involved in the solutions, visit www.nasrc.org.

Get Involved! NEW CO2 Curriculum Development Project

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NASRC and ESCO Group recently joined forces to launch the development of a CO2 curriculum for community college and trade school HVAC&R programs. Through this partnership, we aim to address one of the root causes contributing to a shortage of technicians trained to install and service natural refrigerant technologies.

There are a number of factors contributing to this challenge, such as the shrinking technician workforce and limited trainings for technicians in the field. But in many cases, it begins with a lack of exposure to natural refrigerants during initial training.

Once the curriculum is finalized, our goal is to see it widely adopted by HVAC&R programs across the country to build a future technician workforce that is well-versed in CO2 technologies.

Want To Get Involved?

We are currently forming the committee who will contribute to this exciting project. We are looking for CO2 experts to contribute content and service contractors who can help scope the curriculum and provide feedback as sections are completed.

 Contact the NASRC to get involved.

 

The Arcticom Group Brings New Service Perspectives as Platinum NASRC Member

Walnut Creek, California—The Arcticom Group (TAG) has joined the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) as a platinum member. The NASRC is a 501c3 nonprofit focused on eliminating the barriers slowing the adoption of natural refrigerants in supermarkets, including training for service contractors.

TAG is a service contractor with expertise in the design and delivery of maintenance programs, repairs, retrofits, remodels, and new store deployments in the commercial refrigeration industry. The company has grown rapidly since their founding in 2017, and now provides service and maintenance in ten states across the Western United States, and installation services throughout the entire country.

“The Arcticom Group’s participation with the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council is a logical extension of our values and our mission,” said Jim Pape, CEO of TAG. “As one of our nation’s largest supermarket-focused service and installation companies, we bear a heavy daily responsibility for the refrigerant responsibilities of our customers. By affiliation with NASRC, we add our capabilities to the NASRC goals for growing trained support infrastructure for natural refrigerant systems.”

Across the country, the supermarket industry has begun to transition to climate-friendly refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP). Natural refrigerants, including carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia (NH3), and hydrocarbons, are very low-GWP refrigerant alternatives, but the transition to natural refrigerants and other low-GWP alternatives has presented a challenge for many supermarkets due to a unique set of market barriers.

One frequently cited barrier is a lack of qualified technicians who are trained to service natural refrigerant systems, and the need for qualified service technicians is expected to grow as more natural refrigerant systems are installed. There are a number of factors contributing to this challenge, including a shrinking technician workforce and limitations on existing trainings and training resources.

The NASRC was formed to address this challenge along with other barriers that are slowing the adoption of natural refrigerants in supermarkets. The organization has brought together over 125 industry organizations to take actions that overcome the challenges associated with naturals, and TAG’s participation will bring a new perspective on the “service readiness” barriers the NASRC is dedicated to addressing.  

 “TAG locations all have direct experience with installing and maintaining natural refrigerant systems,” said Pape. “At TAG, we are committed to aggressively growing that expertise through our own in-house programs and the use of great content from industry leading manufacturers. Robust installation and maintenance capacity are necessary building blocks to de-risking and accelerating the adoption of natural refrigerant systems.”

 “The Arcticom Group will add strength to our initiatives and our membership network,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of the NASRC. “We look forward to leveraging their perspective and expertise to help us overcome service readiness barriers to natural refrigerant adoption.”

In addition to TAG, NASRC is supported by a strong network of members, which represents over 24,000 supermarket locations in North America, major equipment manufacturers, service contractors, and other stakeholders.

More information about The Arcticom Group is available at www.thearcticomgroup.com.

NASRC Expo to Highlight Low-GWP AND Energy Efficient Refrigeration Solutions

Irwindale, California – On January 15th and 16th, North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and Southern California Edison (SCE) will co-host the first-ever Low-GWP & Energy Efficiency Expo, which will showcase the latest commercial refrigeration technologies and solutions that offer both low-GWP and energy efficiency benefits in new and existing facilities.

This event will build on a workshop NASRC co-hosted with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) earlier this year, which sought to align the goals of California food retailers, California utilities, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by optimizing for energy efficiency with natural refrigerants.

“After our July workshop, it became clear that food retailers, service contractors, government agencies, and utilities were looking for an easy way to identify technologies that are both energy efficient and compatible with refrigerants below 150 GWP,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of the NASRC. “Our goal with this event is to provide a platform to showcase these technologies in the context of California regulations.”

In 2017, CARB proposed new regulations that will require all new systems to use refrigerants with a GWP of 150 or less starting in 2022, causing many California grocers and food retailers to explore natural refrigerant technologies and solutions.

Natural refrigerants, including hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and ammonia, offer a “future-proof” solution in terms of regulations, but also present a unique set of challenges. Not only do these technologies often come at an upfront cost premium compared to traditional technologies, but a shortage of trusted data has led to uncertainty around energy performance and other lifecycle costs. What’s more, because natural refrigerants are not a “drop-in” solution, existing stores require a full system replacement, making a natural refrigerant “retrofit” unfeasible in most facilities.     

California utilities offer a variety of programs that can help finance the adoption of energy efficient refrigerant technologies, such as on-bill financing, emerging technologies funding, and custom incentive programs. By incorporating low-GWP refrigerant technologies into new and existing programs utilities can support CARB in reaching their emissions reductions targets and California food retailers to adopt low-GWP technologies without breaking the bank.

“Utility incentives and other funding sources that offset the upfront costs of these technologies have the power to increase volumes of adoption and drive us closer to reaching economies of scale where we see the costs of these technologies fall,” said Wright. “But for that to happen, utilities, government agencies, and supermarkets need to have a better understanding of which technologies below 150 GWP also offer energy efficiency benefits in both new and existing facilities.”

This free, two-day event seeks to provide clarity by highlighting a diversity of commercial refrigeration products that are compatible with refrigerants below 150 GWP and have proven energy efficiency benefits through a product expo, technomercials, case studies, and refrigeration “Shark Tank” sessions. Attendees will also hear updates on California refrigerant regulations, current and future offerings from California utilities, and 2022 Title 24 energy code impacts.  

This event will be attended by grocery and food retailers, service contractors, equipment manufacturers & suppliers, utilities, policymakers, government agencies, and other key commercial refrigeration stakeholders.

 Manufacturers interested in exhibiting should contact the NASRC at info@nasrc.org. Exhibitor applications are due by COB Friday, November 15th. For more information or to register for the expo, visit www.nasrc.org/energy-efficiency-expo.

NASRC California Workshop Drives Incentives for Low-GWP and Energy Efficient Technologies

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San Francisco, California – On July 18th, the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) organized a workshop aimed at aligning stakeholder goals and optimizing energy efficiency opportunities with low-GWP refrigerants. The workshop featured an update on refrigerant regulations from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), as well as an overview of low-GWP technologies that will help supermarkets comply with the new regulations. The intention of the workshop was to highlight the goals and challenges of key stakeholders and identify potential “win-win-win” solutions.

“We often hear that there is a perceived trade-off between GWP reduction and energy efficiency. But we see an opportunity to optimize energy savings with natural refrigerants, which represents a win for CARB, supermarkets, and California utilities. That was our primary goal with this workshop.”

- Danielle Wright, Executive Director, NASRC

The workshop was set in the context of California’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and to reduce HFC emissions to 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. To achieve these goals, CARB has proposed new regulations that would prohibit the use of refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) above 150 in new construction and ban the sale of virgin refrigerants with a GWP above 1,500 starting in 2022.

Though regulatory compliance is an important objective for supermarkets, they have a number of other goals to consider, such as keeping their products cold and their costs down. The pending regulations present a challenge for California supermarkets because many low-GWP technologies still represent a considerable cost premium. To really accelerate the adoption of refrigerant technologies below 150 GWP, supermarkets are going to need some financial support to offset cost premiums. 

The workshop featured several potential solutions to help overcome existing cost hurdles, starting with a state incentive program. This year, the California State Legislature allocated $1 million to the state’s low-GWP incentive program, which was established in 2018 under the California Cooling Act. This incentive program is intended to promote adoption of new low-GWP refrigerant technologies throughout California. CARB announced that they are currently working to design the program and are looking for input from stakeholders.

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In addition to state-level incentives, the workshop highlighted utility funding opportunities for projects that contribute to their energy efficiency targets. Workshop speakers discussed existing utility incentive opportunities that can apply to low-GWP refrigerant technologies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) custom incentive program and commercial whole buildings program. California supermarkets can participate in these programs to receive incentives for the energy and demand savings associated with projects using low-GWP refrigerant technologies. Customers of any investor-owned utility (IOU) can also take advantage of on-bill financing programs, which offer zero percent interest loans that are repaid through the customer’s utility bill.

A new financing mechanism that will leverage carbon offset credits for greenhouse gas emissions reductions from natural refrigerant projects was also discussed. In this scenario, the carbon offset credits would be purchased from a supermarket, reducing the upfront cost of a natural refrigerant project. The NASRC and Natural Capital Partners are partnering to pilot this carbon financing model with the hopes of scaling into a larger program. This funding source could then be coupled with state or utility incentives to make a low-GWP refrigerant project financially feasible.  

“Any one of these financial options may not be enough to allow a supermarket to move forward with a natural refrigerant system,” said Wright. “But combining a number of financial mechanisms may be the solution that allows supermarkets to adopt natural refrigerant systems that will not be subject to future regulations.”

NASRC intends to help drive each proposed solution forward with the goal of combining funding opportunities to minimize cost barriers and contribute to the goals of California supermarkets, California utilities, and CARB.

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The worship was co-hosted by PG&E and took place at their Pacific Energy Center (PEC) facility in San Francisco. Sponsored by Climate Pros, Hillphoenix, AHT Cooling Systems, and Bitzer US, the workshop was attended by over 100 California stakeholders, including supermarket retailers, service contractors, equipment manufacturers & suppliers, government agencies, utilities, engineering & design firms, consultants, and NGOs.

Check out more upcoming NASRC events here.