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Dennis Flower looks at what R32 air conditioning means for facilities

While it appears that there is much greater awareness among the general public of the need to reduce our impact on the environment, it remains unclear whether this includes the business community in sufficient numbers to make the necessary changes required, although there are encouraging signs in a number of areas.

Within the FM sector, we’re seeing a growing number of initiatives aimed at reducing emissions – which typically provide additional benefits such as lower costs and increased life cycles of plant and equipment through improved monitoring and maintenance regimes – which is particularly encouraging on a number of levels.

Another benefit of these projects is that they can additionally help to ensure compliance in a range of additional areas, which is always a central aim of all those involved in managing facilities, and one of the many examples of this is complying with the legislation such as F-Gas for those that use refrigerants for any reason.

The next questions is whether there is sufficient awareness of R32 and its lower GWP benefits?

Dennis Flower PfM Dennis Flower Editor of Premises & Facilities Management

Global warming

In a recent discussion with one of the many highly professional service providers of air conditioning plant and equipment, it was stated that they had long been aware of the need to provide the necessary support to create a realistic business case to justify the investment required to upgrade equipment to use refrigerants with lower levels of global warming potential (GWP).

This also allowed their customers to comply with the F-Gas regulations, which they had found to gain more traction with those that had experienced negative issues in the past for any reason.

It can additionally be seen that those who are keen to comply with the necessary F-Gas rules can be further divided into two camps, namely those happy to do just enough to meet the requirements and others that look further ahead and apply the necessary changes that ensure they stay well ahead of the game.

Questions for FMs

My question for facilities managers therefore is should everyone be looking further ahead than just doing enough to pass this round of the F-Gas Phasedown? Or should we all take a much longer term view?

There is now a choice of air conditioning equipment using R32 refrigerant, including the large VRF systems as recently launched by Mitsubishi Electric.  R32 has a GWP level of 675, compared to the GWP of 2,088 of R410A, which is currently used in the majority of systems.

R32 also offers further hope for the future as it will be possible to mix it with other refrigerants to reduce the overall GWP even further, meaning that an investment in R32 equipment really will help future-proof a building for many years to come.

Raising awareness

Although replacing existing aged equipment may involve an increased level of spend initially, it will remove any potential headache and can additionally assist in achieving or further extending CSR project aims that are gaining a growing level of traction with companies and their clients on every level.

The next question would therefore be to ask whether there is sufficient awareness of R32 and its lower GWP benefits?

If the answer to this is ‘no’, then perhaps addressing this issue will be a valuable step in building better business cases that will see more companies exceed the requirements of F Gas and other legislation in the drive to reduce our environmental impact.

Dennis Flower is editor of Premises and Facilities Management (PfM) magazine