ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced a collaborative effort to develop and publish a new Guide for Sustainable Refrigerated Facilities and Systems. Scheduled to be completed in early 2014, the $400,000 project is being jointly funded by ASHRAE and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montréal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The guide will address the entire range of facility and equipment design and efficiency alternatives for refrigerated processing, storage and distribution (cold chain) in both developed and developing countries. As global urbanization continues, refrigerated storage and transport from farm to store is critical.

The guide is also important as parties to the Montréal Protocol face upcoming compliance deadlines. For developing countries, that means a freeze in HCFC consumption and production by January 1, 2013, followed by a 10 percent reduction in 2015 and 97.5 percent reduction by 2030. Currently HCFC-22 is the preferred refrigerant for many facilities and systems, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

ASHRAE’s “Position Document on Refrigerants and their Responsible Use” shows the move away from refrigerants containing chlorine (e.g., CFC-11, CFC-12, HCFC-22, R-502, etc.) to alternatives such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and natural refrigerants. HFCs, such as R-404A and R-410A, are already in use; natural refrigerants include R-717 and R-44 hydrocarbons.