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Webinar Wrap-Up: Preparing for the EPA’s Proposed SNAP Refrigerant Rule Changes

In my recent Making Sense Webinar “Staying Ahead of Rulemaking Proposals on Acceptable Refrigerants,” I explored the implications of the EPA’s recent significant new alternatives (SNAP) policy on supermarket and foodservice refrigeration applications. On August 6, the EPA also issued a notice of public rulemaking (NOPR) in the Federal Register, giving all stakeholders 60 days to comment on SNAP’s proposed delisting of refrigerants. The moves are a follow-up to the EPA’s recent stakeholder meetings to discuss the global warming potential (GWP) of HFC-based refrigerants, and explore which ones could be delisted and what their replacements might be.

While the EPA’s rulemaking on refrigerants is still undecided, it seems inevitable that two of our industry’s most common refrigerants — R404A and R507A — are likely to be delisted. Stakeholders can prepare now by educating themselves and getting engaged. Here are three important considerations to help you find solid ground amidst this very fluid situation:

  • How will your application be affected? Each new alternative refrigerant presented for approval has very specific application parameters. For example, retail food refrigeration and vending machine application will require different alternative refrigerants. Make sure you know what the impacts will be on your application. Here’s the EPA’s official SNAP website: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/index.html.
  • Comment on the NOPR through October 6. If you have concerns, unique equipment and application requirements, or disagree with the proposed delistings, make sure your opinions are made known to the EPA by commenting on the NOPR. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/pdf/2014-18494.pdf. Failure to comment may be interpreted as tacit agreement with SNAP rulings.
  • Carefully evaluate the alternatives. When considering replacement refrigerants, we must evaluate their key characteristics to minimize unintended consequences. This holistic view encompasses safety (toxicity, flammability, pressures), performance (physical properties, capacity, energy efficiency), economics (technology and equipment impacts, TCO) and of course, environment (regulatory requirements and life cycle climate performance).

As a component manufacturer, Emerson Climate Technologies is doing everything it can to stay ahead of proposed rulemaking by closely evaluating the viability of alternatives. In my webinar, I was fortunate enough to be joined by distinguished spokespersons from major chemical companies formulating the next generation of synthetic refrigerants. Patti Conlan, Fluorochemicals Market Manager from Arkema, Samuel Yana Motta, Refrigerants R&D Leader from Honeywell and Barbara Minor, DuPont Fellow from DuPont provided updates on the performance and GWP potential of each company’s future refrigerants. Since Emerson Climate has been participating in the EPA’s discussions for quite some time, we have already identified a class of viable synthetic and natural refrigerant alternatives — from R407A/F and CO2 to R290 — and are preparing in advance for product qualification.

There’s no question that the path before us is a challenging one. Low GWP options will have implications on safety, performance, economics and the environment. And finding options that strike a balance between all these factors will be the key to adhering to SNAP’s requirements in all applications.

If you’d like to hear my recent Making Sense webinar in its entirety, you may listen to it and other archived webinars on our website. Stay tuned for further updates on this dynamic topic as we Make Sense of the issues that matter most in commercial refrigeration.

Rajan Rajendran, Ph. D.
Vice President, System Innovation Center and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies

Seven Actions Retail Facilities Teams Can Take to Improve Store Operations

What can facility managers do to improve their partnership with store operations? This post lists seven actions facilities teams can take which can help both teams succeed.

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Six Arguments that Make the Case for Case Control

In the U.S., the vast majority of refrigeration cases are controlled via circuit control. Yet, implementing individual case control leads to lower energy costs for retailers. At our 2014 Technology in Action Conference, we brought together three retail end users who are currently using case control in their supermarkets for a panel discussion on this topic. We addressed the benefits and challenges of installing case control, as well as asked the panelists to share their personal experiences with actual deployments.

John Wallace (second on left) of Emerson Climate Technologies moderates a panel discussion on case control with retail end users (L to R): Steve Mitchell of King Kullen, Frank Vadino of Cold Technology and Kevin St. Phillips of Price Chopper.

John Wallace (second on left) of Emerson Climate Technologies moderates a panel discussion on case control with retail end users (L to R): Steve Mitchell of King Kullen, Frank Vadino of Cold Technology and Kevin St. Phillips of Price Chopper.

During this discussion, a consensus emerged among the panel of retailers – each of whom is based in the Northeast region of the U.S., where there is currently a high concentration of case control stores. Each of the panelists shared that their companies are implementing case control in some way – as they remodel stores and build new facilities. As advocates for case control, they all agreed that its benefits and savings outweigh the potential challenges.

Below are six arguments – and some tips for successful implementation – from actual end users that make the case for case control:

  1. Case control installation is cost-effective. Installation with case control will be less expensive than the costs seen with a conventional mechanical valve store. With case control, you are able to drive down the electrical installation costs. Stores with conventional valves may also take longer to set up. Less time is spent on the case installation and set up with case control because a lot of the work can be done ahead of time; this allows the other store teams to work in conjunction with the case installation. You can set shelves, bring in groceries and burn off cooking equipment while the installation happens, rather than waiting until a case is full to the load line and environmental conditions are set.
  2. A kickoff meeting with prospective bidders is a crucial first step for a new project. When bidding a new project, it helps to ensure all parties involved understand the plan and specifications. A kickoff meeting allows you to sit down and explain the design methodology and how it differs from conventional systems. If you expect to see lower electrical installation costs, make sure you state this to the prospective bidders. It’s also important to have quality instruction documentation to support your project expectations.
  3. Training is critical when adopting case controls. Everyone involved needs to know how to use the equipment. Set up training for the mechanics so that they not only understand how the controls work, but also explain why you’ve elected to use case control. Making sure they understand the concept and getting the mechanics on board with case control can go a long way in helping them take ownership of the startup and maintenance of the equipment.
  4. When ordering new cases, have the controls mounted in the cases by the manufacturer. With high labor costs, you’ll see savings with ordering the controls already installed in new cases. You will still need to allocate time after the cases are installed to make sure that all connections are tight and the wiring is set up correctly, but opting for manufacturer installed controls will also allow for quicker installation.
  5. Use case controls to better manage your facility and your maintenance teams. Case controls provide a better level of visibility and control of your facilities. The data collected provides valuable information to help evaluate a problem and diagnose it properly. If something isn’t working correctly, technicians are able to call the supervision team, who has access to the system remotely, to help walk them through the issue. Technicians can also access system information on a smart phone or tablet while in the field. And, you can set restrictions to allow varying levels of access to the system information – or you can override the system, when needed. Electronic expansion valves can also help reduce truck rolls and decrease the inventory needed on technician trucks.
  6. There are different strategies for successful case control conversion. As case control is adopted by more retailers in the U.S., we’re seeing different approaches to case control conversion by various organizations. Some have opted to switch their stores to case control as they remodel, retrofitting the cases in any stores going through a remodel with electronic controls at that time. And for larger remodels, they may order new cases with the controls factory installed. Another method is to go into existing stores with conventional systems for an energy conversion project and retrofit the cases with electronic controls; this may be done with a controlled conversion, switching a few racks in a store at a time, or by converting the whole store. And with new builds, many opt to simplify the electrical construction by installing case control from the start.
John Wallace (far left) of Emerson Climate Technologies with retail customers (L to R): Frank Vadino of Cold Technology, Steve Mitchell of King Kullen and Kevin St. Phillips of Price Chopper.

John Wallace (far left) of Emerson Climate Technologies with retail customers (L to R): Frank Vadino of Cold Technology, Steve Mitchell of King Kullen and Kevin St. Phillips of Price Chopper.

For more information on Emerson Climate Technologies offering of case controls for supermarkets and convenience stores, please visit the XM Series Case Control page on our website.

John Wallace
Director of Innovation, Retail Solutions
Emerson Climate Technologies

Making Sense of the Recent Rulemaking Proposals on Acceptable Refrigerants

Global phase-downs and bans of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in an effort to lower the global warming potential (GWP) of refrigeration and air conditioning systems are an everyday reality for equipment and component manufacturers, OEMs and end users alike.

The most recent development in this arena is the U.S. EPA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) for its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) wherein numerous common HFCs and HFC-containing blends will be listed as unacceptable for some uses. The NOPR is currently going through its mandatory comment period, but regardless of the exact, final outcome, real and significant changes are imminent. Understanding the likely implications of these changes is essential.

Join our next webinar on Tuesday, August 26 at 2 p.m. EDT, 11 a.m. PDT.

Our next Making Sense webinar, Staying Ahead of Recent EPA Rulemaking on Acceptable Refrigerants, will help explain the current status of the NOPR, explore compliant, low-GWP refrigerant alternatives, and discuss the challenges these changes will pose to our industry. Whether you manufacture refrigeration systems, operate supermarkets or other food retail operations, or supply stand-alone equipment or condensing units, you’ll need a clear understanding as to where this latest update to SNAP is headed and when. During this webinar, we’ll cover many topics, including:

  • The current status of the EPA’s most recent NOPR
  • Applications targeted by the new proposal
  • Viable, acceptable refrigerant alternatives
  • Equipment and system considerations when applying low-GWP refrigerants

This educational webinar will be presented by Dr. Rajan Rajendran, Emerson Climate Technologies’ vice president of engineering services and sustainability. He is one of the most respected, global authorities on alternate refrigerants and their applications across a variety of industries. He will be joined by a panel of experts to help answer any questions you may have.

Please join Dr. Rajendran and his panel on Tuesday, August 26 at 2 p.m. EDT, 11 a.m. PDT, for the latest information about the pending NOPR and its potential implications. Register now by visiting our website at www.emersonclimate.com/makingsensewebinars. We’re helping the industry Make Sense of the issues that matter most.

Craig Raney
Director of Marketing, Refrigeration
Emerson Climate Technologies

EPA Releases Proposed Timeline for HFC Status Changes

Earlier this year I reported the EPA’s intention to move on the delisting of certain hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) and HFC blends this summer. That process is now officially underway. On July 9, the EPA released the prepublication version of a Notice of Public Rule (NOPR) detailing proposed changes in listing status, tentatively scheduled to take effect as early as January 1, 2016.

The proposed rule is part of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which evaluates and revises acceptable alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODS) on an ongoing basis. A 60-day comment period for industry stakeholders begins once this NOPR is published in the Federal Register.

Key points in the rule include bans on R-404A and R-507A for new and retrofitted retail food refrigeration, including direct and indirect supermarket systems and walk-in cooler/freezer condensing units. It also proposes bans on R-404A, R-507A and HFC-134a in new, stand-alone refrigeration units and vending machines. Other blends to be delisted as unacceptable for direct and indirect supermarket systems include: HFC-227ea, R-407B, R-421B, R-422A, R-422C, R-422D, R-428A and R-434A.

These changes are intended to drive the market to refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP). In the near term, the industry will move toward already-tested, available alternatives, such as R-407A, carbon dioxide (CO2) or R-290, depending on the application. The proposed rulemaking will also accelerate the exploration of emerging alternatives, such as R-448A, R-449A, R-450A and XP10, etc.

Emerson Climate has been actively participating in meetings and discussions with the EPA and industry organizations and will continue to do so throughout the commenting process. It is essential that the move to low-GWP refrigerants continues to progress. But it is also important the rulemaking strikes a balance that accounts for the infrastructure changes and resources necessary to support the transition in an effective, commercially viable manner.

We will continue to work proactively on alternatives to make sure you have access to the products and services you’ll need to remain compliant with SNAP. In many cases viable substitutes are already approved and ready for application. We continue to work on developments that will not only meet this NOPR, but keep you compliant with foreseeable future rulings.

We welcome and encourage your participation and feedback throughout the commenting period. We’ll cover the proposed changes and discuss their implications in more detail in our Making Sense webinar on August 26. Click here to register.

For specific details of the proposed changes, review the Rule and Fact Sheet published by the EPA. Check back here for further updates as new information becomes available. We believe the final rule can be expected sometime in late November or early December.

Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D
Vice President, System Innovation Center and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies

 

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