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R-22 – Fading Fast

Sara Jackson - Headshot closeup sml

Sara Jackson COAC Customer Service Manager

As HVAC system owners and contractors, we should all be paying attention to the major changes in the refrigeration markets occurring in 2016. As the complete phase-out of R-22 continues, the EPA has declared that in 2016 only 18 million pounds of R-22 can be produced or imported. The 2016 amount is down from 51 million pounds allowed in 2014, and will be decreasing significantly each year until December 31, 2019, when no new or imported R-22 will be permitted in the United States.

The R-22 supply dwindles and the “normal to warmer-than-usual” temperatures, predicted by meteorologists, for this coming summer will assuredly increase the demand. R-22 prices were up 15% in the final quarter of 2015 and are anticipated to reach record levels by the end of 2016. Refrigerant distributors will be subject to allocation limits and supplies will become scarce. The possibilities of imported counterfeit R-22 is a real and likely possibility, therefore purchasers will have to be vigilant in their research and trust who they are buying from.

r-22 Fading AwayAnother notable change will be the end of production of the “dry-shipped” unit (equipment designed to use R-22, yet not containing any refrigerant at the time of sale/shipment). As of the end of February, manufacturers are no longer able to sell this type of equipment. This means all new units will be required to use other types of refrigerants.

The phase-out will force owners of R-22 equipment to replace their systems or transition to an environmentally approved retrofit alternative for their legacy systems. Manufacturers are coming to the table with new refrigerants such as Gentron 422D, Performax LT, and Solstice N40. These next generation products all have different characteristics and performance specifications. When retrofitting with these alternative refrigerants it will be important to note the lubricant choice and its effect on system performance and to recognize the need to replace elastomers, O-rings, and possibly system valves during that retrofit. In this rapidly changing industry, it will behoove the consumer to research the options and regulations and form solid, reliable relationships with well-informed service providers they can trust to do the job right and keep the comfortable air flowing.

Alternative Refrigerant Links:

422D https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/americas/product/genetron-422d/

N40 https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/americas/?document=solstice-n40-data-sheet&download=1

Performax LT https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/india/?document=honeywell-genetron-performaxlt-technical-specs&download=1

 

Energy Disclosure Law Is Completely Changed with New Law AB-802

Electrical_metersCommercial building owners no longer have the burden of disclosing energy consumption to prospective buyers, tenants or lenders. Effective January 1, 2016, Assembly Bill 802, signed by Governor Brown on October 8, 2015, places the burden for providing energy use data on the utility companies with a completely re-written energy disclosure law.

New Laws (AB 802) Replacing the Existing Energy Use Disclosure Law (AB 1103)

AB 802 creates a new energy use disclosure program for the State of California, and replaces the existing law, Assembly Bill 1103 (AB 1103). The key aspects of AB 802 on are:

  1. AB 1103 will remain in effect until December 31, 2015, and until such time, the disclosure of building energy use shall continue to be required in connection with a sale, lease, finance, or refinance of an entire building.
  2. AB 1103 will be repealed effective January 1, 2016.
  3. There will be no statewide energy use disclosure requirement in 2016.
  4. In 2016, the California Energy Commission (CEC) will engage in a public process to develop regulations and establish a new reporting infrastructure for the new program under AB 802.
  5. The CEC anticipates that new regulations will be in effect by January 1, 2017.
  6. New regulations…..??

The Existing Law – AB 1103

California’s existing energy use disclosure program, AB 1103, has been plagued with implementation problems since the enactment of the law in 2007.
Under AB 1103, utilities are required to maintain records of the energy consumption of certain nonresidential buildings. Utilities are required to make the energy consumption data available upon request of a building owner or operator. An owner or operator in turn is required to disclose benchmarking data and ratings for a building for the most recent 12 months to a prospective buyer, lessee, or lender. (Public Resources Code §25402.10.)

In practice, however, it has been difficult for building owners and operators to obtain the data from the utilities due to, among other things, the demands made by utilities for authorization from tenants, which in many cases has been difficult or even impossible to obtain.

The New Law – AB 802

AB 802 was enacted in response to these and other concerns with AB 1103. The stated intent of the Legislature in enacting AB 802 is that the CEC create a benchmarking and disclosure program which will allow owners and operators of commercial and multifamily buildings containing 50,000 square feet and more to better understand their energy consumption through standardized energy use metrics.

Under the new program, a utility must maintain energy usage data for all buildings served by that utility for at least the most recent 12 complete calendar months. A utility would need to provide the benchmark data to a building owner or operator within four weeks of a request. In addition, AB 802 requires the CEC to develop regulations to govern the delivery of benchmark data to the CEC and the public disclosure of such data.

AB 802 eliminates the private disclosure made between parties to a transaction under AB 1103, and instead will require the public disclosure of certain operating performance data. AB 802 also applies to multifamily buildings, whereas AB 1103 did not.

Thus, while AB 802 does not impose any transactional burdens on building owners and operators – a welcome change from AB 1103 – it will require the disclosure of certain energy use data that was not previously available to the public.

Timing of Implementation

It is important to note that AB 1103 will remain in effect until December 31, 2015, which means that building energy use disclosure continues to be required for the sale, lease, finance, or refinance of certain non-residential buildings until the end of the year. AB 1103 will be repealed effective January 1, 2016, and there will be no statewide energy use disclosure requirement in 2016. The CEC anticipates that regulations for the new AB 802 program will be in effect by January 1, 2017.

 

Preparing For a Future Without Any R-22

R-22 bannedThe EPA’s release of the R-22 phaseout schedule has provided a better idea of how fast R-22 refrigerant will be eliminated. Building owners and managers can now plan for it over the next few years. A big part of that preparation is education.

R-22 will be gone soon so now is the time to make decisions about your HVAC equipment. In Sacramento, 70-80% of commercial buildings still have R-22 systems in operation. Whats your plan?

Read More Here

 

 

Benchmarking – more than just a compliance chore

Mandatory benchmarks are impacting sales and leases, know your number and take steps now to set your building apart.

Energy Projects Decision California’s required building benchmarking ordinance (AB1103) can be seen as cumbersome and intrusive to a real estate transaction but when a benchmark is viewed as a valuable tool, it can be the used to enhance marketing appeal, illuminate energy savings, and increase a building’s value. The U.S. EPA found an average energy savings of 2.4 percent per year in buildings that consistently benchmark their energy use.*

Benchmarking uses Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager Software to compare your building’s energy usage to similar buildings and generates a benchmark score. This score is a good but basic indication of how your building is doing compared to others. This information can be very empowering to property/facility managers as a snapshot of the energy use effectiveness and then open discussions for savings opportunities. When benchmarks are adopted as a regularly used tool, very effective information can be created. Information like; knowing the “score” before and after any energy project to determine effectiveness, showcasing ongoing energy efficiency to a prospective buyer or tenant, or demonstrating increased building value by reducing operating costs. For instance, a 100,000-square-foot building that reduces its energy costs by 10 percent, say from $2.00 per square foot to $1.80 per square foot, increases its net operating income by $20,000 and building value at an 8 percent cap rate by $250,000.

To make benchmarking easier, COAC can step you through the process. We have benchmarked dozens of buildings in this region and can easily navigate the convoluted process for you. Whether your need is immediate, for a closing transaction, or a longer term program of benchmarking to identity savings opportunities or validate energy saving projects, COAC Energy Services can take care of it for you. Our website has an easy way to get the benchmark process started or you can email Bill Schmalzel directly to get started.

R-22 Refrigerant Supply Reduced 57% in 2015

Significant increase in costs, likely delays in availability, and challenges in conversion – Change is coming

R-22 Refrigerant Supply infographic
The EPA’s updated phase-out schedule for R-22 refrigerant was recently described as an “Aggressive Linear Reduction”, reducing the amount available next year by 57%. In 2014, there was 51 million pounds of R-22 available on the market. In less than 2 months (2015) there will be only 22 million pounds available with steep reductions each year thereafter. The eventual plan is to have production and importation of R-22 eliminated by 2020.


How does this affect you?

The bulk of the commercial buildings in Sacramento still have HVAC units that use the R-22 refrigerant. If you have equipment that is 8-10 years old or older then it is most likely using R-22. As the supply radically declines, the first effect felt will be the cost of repairs will climb significantly. The next probable challenge will just be having enough R-22 when needed. As supplies dwindle, hoarding and limitations on the size of orders will affect repair times, especially in the critical summer months.


Conversion vs. Replacement?

There are R-22 alternatives on the market but they introduce other significant challenges to future repairs, unit effectiveness (how much cooling it can generate) and life expectancy. If conditioned air is critical to running the business and R-22 is not available then an alternative refrigerant will be needed, or the entire system will need to be changed to use 410A (more ecofriendly refrigerant) which can have installation lead times of 1 week to 2 months, causing further difficulties. The decision to convert or replace is a complex matrix of factors that include expected unit life, ownership and tenant requirements, and the remaining-life cost of ownership to name just a few. Replacing your unit is not a matter of if, but is just a matter of when and the EPA’s new policy may force you to accelerate your plans.

Planning for Change

There is no pat answer to the vexing question of when to repair versus replace, but COAC can help guide you and run the numbers on various scenarios so that you can make an educated, well-deliberated decision that fits your business needs. We want to help you avoid those desperate situations, when a replacement is not available for a few weeks or months, and you have to make short-term decisions that can cause more damage to your system, your building, your tenant comfort and your reputation.

EPA Article – Read More

 

 

REGULATORY UPDATE: AB-1103 delayed until Jan 1, 2014

AB-1103, the Commercial Building Energy Benchmarking Regulation, has been delayed until Jan 1, 2014.

On August 14th, the California Energy Commission issued a postponement (again) of AB-1103, the Commercial Building Energy Use Disclosure Program, for buildings 50,000 sq. ft and larger until Jan. 1, 2014. These regulations require building owners to disclose the building’s energy use benchmark score to potential buyers, leasers of the entire building and/or upon refinancing the building. CEC Announces Delays in the AB1103 enforcement

Benchmark scores are derived from comparing the energy use profile of your building to that of similar buildings (in size, usage type and location). The postponement is due to the technical problems integrating the national Energy Star Portfolio Manager database with various energy providers.

The current CA Energy Commission schedule for AB1103 implementation is:
 — For buildings larger than 50,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins Jan. 1, 2014.

— For buildings from 10,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins Jan. 1, 2014.

— For buildings from 5,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. enforcement begins July 1, 2014.

California Energy Commission Postponement Notice

California Energy Commission AB1103 information page

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Ready for AB1103?

Building_in_the_Sky_by_handful_of_angerCOAC Building Benchmark Resource Center 
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Just Released: The California Energy Commission has delayed enforcement of AB1103 (the Non-Residential Building Energy Use Disclosure) until Sept 1, 2013 for buildings 50,000 square feet and above. They explain the delay is due to the EPA’s “Portfolio Manager” website being down until mid July. Enforcement dates for smaller buildings have not changed.

If you have any questions COAC’s Benchmark Resource Center can guide you though the entire process. Contact our Energy Services Dept. at 916.3811.4611 or bschmalzel@coacair.com to get started immediately.
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