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Management guideline for the phase-out of Refrigerant R22: Impacts and strategies for building owners and facility managers

Queensland Government

Version:  2015.  (Current)
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Publication date
23 January 2015
Current status

This guideline provides advice relating to the use of refrigerant R22, a commonly used refrigerant found within many air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

R22 is an ozone depleting substance that is progressively being phased out in accordance with Australia’s obligation to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which has been in place since 1987.

Since that time the Commonwealth Government has had in place a phase-out strategy and various laws to restrict the production and importation of a range of ozone depleting substances (particularly refrigerants) in Australia. The aim is to gradually reduce supply of all significant ozone depleting substances to nil by 2030.

Under the Commonwealth Government strategy those refrigerants with very high ozone depleting potential have now been phased out in Australia. The next stage of the phase-out strategy is now impacting the availability of R22, which has a lower ozone depleting potential.

The phase-out of R22 is being applied via a reduction in allowable imports of R22 into Australia. In 2014, Australia’s import quota was reduced by 75% compared to that of 2013, to be followed by a further reduction in 2016 when imports will remain at a minimum level until complete phase-out occurs in 2030.

The continued use of R22 presents a risk to owners and/or managers of building assets. The ongoing reduction in imports is resulting in reduced availability and an elevated cost for this refrigerant, where obtainable. Availability of the refrigerant is expected to be highly constrained from 2016 onwards, when the import quota reduces to its lowest level.

There are four management options available for R22-charged equipment: retain and manage the equipment, retrofit the equipment with an alternative refrigerant, renew with like-for-like equipment, or upgrade the system after an engineering analysis.

While retrofitting equipment to use a different refrigerant is possible, this option has limited application. The success of retrofitting will depend on a variety of considerations including the retrofit refrigerant used, system capacity, seals, valves and component changes, warranty requirements and ongoing parts availability. In many cases upgrading to new equipment may be the only acceptable solution when it can no longer be maintained or repaired.

There are numerous factors such as funding, procurement method, engineering design and equipment lead-time which can add considerable time and affect the chosen strategy for the management of R22-charged equipment. A management strategy needs to consider not only the technical solutions, but also the business priorities and needs of the owner, such as the intended future usage for affected buildings.

Building owners and facility managers are encouraged to carry out audits of their buildings and develop registers of R22-charged equipment. The management strategy adopted can be prioritised based on key characteristics such as age of equipment, criticality of the site and other factors, in order to reduce risk and proactively future-proof the adversely affected mechanical services within buildings.



Executive Summary
Table Of Contents
Purpose Of This Guideline
Who Should Use This Guideline?
Potential Risks For Building Owners, Operators And Maintainers
Technical Options For Managing R22 Equipment
Applying The Technical Options And Associated Issues
Key Management Considerations
Auditing And Prioritisation To Manage Risk
Destruction Or Reclamation Of R22 Figure 2 — Recommended Risk Management Strategy
Further Information On The Topic
Appendix A: HCFC Phase-Out
Appendix B: Retrofit Refrigerants
Appendix C: Long-Term Refrigerant Options

Department of Housing and Public Works
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Management guideline for the phase-out of Refrigerant R22: Impacts and strategies for building owners and facility managers 2015 cover