Refrigerant Management Regulations in 2019-2020: What Should Companies Do Next?
With the EPA section 608 regulations coming in 2019 and 2020, refrigerant management is a hot topic of discussion for many facilities and operations professionals.
As of January 1st, 2019, all organizations with systems containing 50 lbs. or more of refrigerant are now exposed to new regulations. Organizations that have not already acted on these new guidelines are at risk for up to a $37,500-dollar-per-day fine for each non-compliant system—as well as mandatory upgrades of equipment—not to mention years of follow-up audits.
We interviewed Mike Parks, SVP of IoT Strategy at Accruent, on the topic of the EPA section 608 guidelines, asking him to share his expert opinion on the regulation changes and how companies should take action.
Lower Leak Rate Thresholds
Leak rates must be lowered across all categories of refrigerant, including comfort cooling, commercial refrigeration and industrial process refrigeration.
Comfort cooling needs to be reduced from a 15% annual rate to 10%, industrial refrigeration from 35% to 30% and commercial from 35% to a much lower 20%.1 Commercial refrigeration not only assumes the biggest percent drop, but they are the most exposed to having multiple systems of 50 lbs. or more.
Track All Efforts Related to Maintaining Leak Rates
The new regulations also require operators to track all efforts related to maintaining a system’s sub-threshold leak rate.
Any system that hits the 125% leak rate in a calendar year is required to be self-reported to the EPA, along with any and all documentation related to work done on that system. That report is to be shared with the EPA by March 1st of the following year. The first year this is mandatory is 2020 for all 2019 data starting from January 1, 2019.
The new guidelines introduce immediate and periodic leak inspections to verify systems are back to sub-threshold leak rates.
Depending on the size of the system, operators are subject to an annual or quarterly inspection to verify that systems have been properly maintained and not leaked further beyond the equipment type threshold. 50 to 500 lbs. systems require annual inspections as soon as they hit their threshold and any system over 500 lbs. will require quarterly inspections.
Inspections can cease once a system has stayed below the leak rate for a 12-month cycle. This should add operational discipline to track and inspect individual system across multiple sites, banners or geographical locations on time.
In 2019, tracking leak rates and refrigerant gasses is crucial to avoiding crippling fines and penalties, regardless of what changes come from the current or future administrations. In order to be properly armed for the future, you need a system that will help you track technician certification, chronically leaking appliances and provide comprehensive reporting across your enterprise.
For more information about leak rates across grocers, check out our infographic.