President’s Message by Gary Schrift

Buckling our seatbelts, filling our own gas tanks, sending an email, and burning propane or natural gas in our homes for heating was once unthinkable. These technologies replaced dad’s arm across your chest during a fast stop, the serviceman pumping gas and checking your oil level, typewriters and the mail service, and coal or wood-burning stoves. There are times I wish to go back. Like when it’s pouring rain and I am nearly out of gas, or when my PC fails, and I feel helpless. Boy wouldn’t that gas station attendant or typewriter be great now. However, I often wish that I had had a laptop and word processing software back in the early ‘80s instead of using a typewriter, miles of correction tape, and hand-drawn graph paper for creating the many engineering lab reports in college. I appreciate the no waiting at the gas station pumps and the ease of use, comfort, and energy efficiency provided by natural gas and propane furnaces.

At one time these changes faced severe public distrust, concerns for safety, and concerns for additional regulation (too much, too little). I would be naïve to think that everyone now trusts and does not fear or even despise these common-day technologies. However, the vast majority partake in each one of these technologies every day.

The change from reluctance to everyday acceptance occurred because of safety standards, regulations, repetition, and measurable results, and of course, the technologies had to work well. Our industry, commercial and industrial refrigeration using natural refrigerants, and its technology works well, and it has for decades. Our industry has measurable results showing energy savings and safe operations, with even greater energy savings and safer operations in the past decade. Our design standards, second to none, provide a guide to ensure repeatable quality refrigeration systems for end-users. But still, our industry’s vast expansion is limited by concerns for safety and concerns for regulation (too much or too little).

We have tackled the safety issue but need to do a better job marketing that effort. We have decades of demonstrated safe use and operation of refrigeration systems using Ammonia, CO2 , and hydrocarbons. We have design and operational standards that are recognized by all model codes in the USA and internationally, which, because of their requirements, continues to further increase safe application. We have training programs provided by excellent organizations of common interest such as RETA, ASTI, IRC, and IIAR of course. Such knowledge also increases safety.

I suggest the one item that is limiting our vast expansion is regulation. What is scarier, the unknown, or regulation? I say the unknown. Regulation or rules and requirements are known but are inconvenient and can be initially costly to have to follow until we get used to them from education and then repetition. The unknown and no regulation is convenient and initially less costly to implement, but this has left us with ozone-depleting and global warming refrigeration chemicals that were believed to be safe to use and required minimal regulations for use.

Because of this, countries have created, or are now creating, regulations for limiting the application and use of HFC’s, most recently in the USA via the adoption of the AIM Act. I suggest rather than be concerned with more regulation, that our members who support existing and expanded use of natural refrigerants celebrate these new regulations because we have documented and adopted standards, guidelines, and training programs far better than most other industries, so we are well poised to meet and exceed the existing regulatory requirements. For those end users considering the use of natural refrigerants, do not fear the tasks required to meet regulations that exist.

The car industry and car buyers adapted to adding and using seatbelts and the housing and utility industry adapted to piping flammable gases into our homes and buildings because of the creation, adoption, and execution of necessary safety regulations and standards. Our natural refrigeration industry already has the necessary regulations, code, adopted standards, and training needed. And once an end-user installs a refrigeration system using a natural refrigerant, they need not fear having to replace it because of new regulations against the naturals or findings of harmful long term environmental effects.