This Industry Mandate Will Likely Affect Your HVAC System

The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act provides new authority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) External URL in three ways:

  1. Phasing down production and consumption of harmful HFCs
  2. Managing these HFCs and their low-GWP substitutes, including reclamation initiatives and reducing equipment leak rates
  3. Facilitating the transition to next-generation refrigerant technologies

HFCs and A2L Accordion Toggle

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of fluorinated gases commonly used as a refrigerant. Many of the most common HFCs and HFC Blends have a high GWP, which has a detrimental effect on the environment. HFCs were introduced in the 1980's to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which had the devastating effect of depleting the Ozone Layer.

A2L refrigerants are a class of refrigerants with low GWP and low flammability. A2L Refrigerants are considered safe when handled by EPA Certified Service technicians. R32 and R454B are two low GWP A2L refrigerants that are being adopted by OEM's and Component Manufacturers that meet the requirements of the AIM Act.

The EPA regulates the use of refrigerants in HVAC systems through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. In 2021, an HVAC phasedown initiative was launched to reduce the consumption of HFC refrigerants. The EPA placed restrictions on the consumption and production of some HFC refrigerants and developed a road map for future reductions. A2L refrigerants have been approved by the EPA for use in residential AC applications.

Phasedown Schedule Accordion Toggle

Under the AIM Act, there is an active phasedown in the use of HFCs over a 15-year period (starting in 2021). During this time, the supply of HFC refrigerants, specifically R-410A and R-134a, are becoming increasingly limited to a total of an 85% reduction with specific targets set for each year. This table shows the phasedown schedule for reducing allowable CO2 emissions resulting from the use of HFCs, with percentages of reduction (left side) being relative to figures recorded for 2011–2013.

Phasedown schedule for HFC production and consumption

Note: Existing equipment cannot be retrofitted to use refrigerants with lower emissions, meaning all buildings using this GWP refrigerants will need to update their systems at some point in the next decade.

See HFC allowances External URL

Key Equipment Dates Accordion Toggle

The Federal Technology Transition's final rule restricts the manufacture and installation of certain refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump (RACHP) products. This rule allows for equipment with high GWP refrigerants, manufactured before January 1, 2025, to be installed until January 1, 2026. This ruling affects all regions of the Country.

Contractors Accordion Toggle

This federally mandated HFC phasedown will incrementally change how contractors purchase and install air conditioners and heat pumps. Previously, transitions in refrigerants created market demand ahead of the required date as well as after, resulting in higher costs for new systems and uncertainty around new refrigerants. In this case, there will likely be two refrigerants replacing R-410A: R-32 and R-454B.

Using natural refrigerants like CO2 and ammonia or low-GWP alternatives like hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) can help you prepare for new incoming refrigerant restrictions and regulations.

As the phasedown progresses, the availability of high-GWP HFCs like R-410A and R-134a will become increasingly limited over the next decade. That will drive up prices. However, as restrictions on HFCs will likewise be felt in other types of equipment, they may help preserve the available supply of these refrigerants for HVAC use.

Another factor that can help preserve availability is the use of reclaimed high-GWP HFC refrigerants that are certified to comply with the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 700 External URL.

Manufacturers are searching for cost-effective, low-GWP alternatives. That said, note that technicians will need to be properly trained to work with new lower-GWP refrigerants. Some of these new refrigerants fall under the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) External URL 34 A2L lower flammability.

For A2L training highlights and general information, be sure to check out:

November 2023 training Q&A sessions

Learn more External URL Find a pro
Disclaimer: A2L Refrigerants are classified as "mildly flammable" and are considered safe when handled by EPA 608a Certified Service technicians with following refrigerant handling best-practices. A2L refrigerants have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 23 for use in residential AC applications. To obtain EPA 608a certification, HVAC technicians must pass an exam that covers topics such as the safe handling of refrigerants, the proper use of refrigerant recovery equipment, and the correct disposal of refrigerants.

Stay informed.

Sign up to receive important updates, product news and information.

Up arrow to scroll to top of page

At Johnstone Supply, we're proud to provide you and your team the most advanced HVAC products, tools and support.

Visit our website

© Johnstone Supply. All Rights Reserved.