Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) is a highly regulated area. HVAC works in a regulated environment primarily because it concerns the environment. There are millions of users of products in this category, and these products are known to be high emitters of pollutants into the environment.
Need for placing HVAC in a regulated environment
From the time the HVAC industry began and started evolving with the introduction of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) in the 1930’s, there has been a steady slew of efforts aimed at regulating this industry. It was with the introduction of CFC that the industry, which was till then confined to only refrigeration, started to branch out to the other product with which it is bunched today, namely air-conditions.
Along with CFC, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were also added. Although these brought about major changes into the way the industry functions; CFCs and HCFCs are considered high contributors to ozone depletion, the primary cause for global warming.
Global efforts at regulating HVAC
In view of the polluting and Ozone-Depletion Potential (ODP) of CFCs and HCFCs, the different governments of the world have been taking serious steps to bring regulations into this industry. One of the most important initiatives aimed at placing HVAC in a regulated environment took place with the Montreal Protocol.
This was a treaty established by different governments of the world to set a cutoff date for reducing levels of ozone depletion caused by CFCs and HCFCs. It set a timeframe of 2030 for phasing out of CFC for developed countries, and 2040 for developing countries and replacing them with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), whose ODP is near-nil.
Efforts at putting the HVAC industry in a regulated environment continued with the Kyoto Protocol. This meeting was convened because research found out that even HVAC products with low ODP were leading to global warming. This not only led to renewed efforts at placing HVAC in a regulated environment; it also led to the concept of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of refrigerants and other products in the HVAC category. The Kyoto Protocol set reduction targets for all kinds of greenhouse gases, including HFCs in developed countries, since it were these countries that were primary emitters.
The 2014-15 steps for placing HVAC in a regulated environment
One of the major amendments to HVAC in the regulated environment in the US is the set of changes the US Department of Energy (DoE) is bringing about, having started out in April 2014. It sets out new energy efficiency standards for HVAC products used in residential and commercial spaces. New Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) standards will be put in place for HVAC products and heat pumps that have been installed after January 1, 2015. The existing SEER standard of 13 for air conditioners will be moved to 14 in a few geographical areas as a first step to controlling HVAC in a regulated environment.
Another important change of this new standard for HVAC in a regulated environment relates to all split-system heat pumps. Across the country, there will be a shift from the existing 13 SEER and 7.7 Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), to the newly formed national heat pump efficiency minimum of 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF, respectively.