Manufacturers of chillers used for comfort cooling in buildings replaced or converted 2,585 units that use chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants during 2003, leaving an estimated 36,200 chillers in the U.S. still using CFCs. CFCs were banned from production at the end of 1995 due to concerns about erosion of the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
The annual survey of chiller manufacturers by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) shows that building owners in the U.S., as of Jan. 1, 2004, had replaced or converted 43,774 units. That represents 55% of the nation’s estimated 80,000 CFC chillers.
According to ARI, during 2003 there were 187 conversions and 2,398 chillers replaced with non-CFC equipment utilizing alternative refrigerants accepted for use by the Environmental Protection Agency.
New building construction in the United States and CFC chiller replacements have been affected by employment declines and the slow recovery of the economy during recent years. ARI reported that factory shipments of large tonnage liquid chillers for use in the U.S. and abroad dropped to 5,742 in 2003 from 5,793 units shipped in 2002.
Building owners have replaced 34,890 and converted 8,884 CFC chillers, leaving an estimated 36,226 still in service, most of which use CFC-11 or CFC-12 refrigerants. ARI manufacturers estimated there will be 165 conversions and 2,883 replacements during 2004, bringing the total converted and replaced to 58 percent of the total by Jan. 1, 2005. The following chart estimates conversions and replacements using centrifugal, screw, reciprocating and absorption chillers.
The pace of the phaseout has also been affected by federal tax laws which require depreciation of the chillers over 39 years.
Four U.S. House members led by Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), an active member of the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus, have introduced H.R. 3953, the “Cool and Efficient Buildings Act,” to set the depreciation period at 15 years for “any property which is part of a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, or refrigeration system and which is installed on or in a building which is non residential real property.”
According to Hoekstra, “The current 39-year depreciation periods on HVACR systems is not reflective of their average life span, and it is not cost effective. The Cool and Efficient Buildings Act will provide an incentive for businesses to invest in new equipment, which will save businesses money in the long run and provide another stimulus to the U.S. economy.”
Members of the House joining Hoekstra as initial sponsors of the bill are: U.S. Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), and Donald A. Manzullo (R-IL). The legislation has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
For more information, visit www.ari.org.