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New ASHRAE UNEP Portal Now Free to ASHRAE Members

Now Free to ASHRAE Members: Refrigerant Training

 From HVAC&R Industry News, September 12, 2019

ASHRAE and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have a dedicated web portal where jointly developed resources are available. Included are the Internet-delivered training courses “Refrigerant Literacy” and “Sound Management of Refrigerants” and a full semester university-level course on refrigerant technology. The courses are available for free access to ASHRAE members as a benefit of the ASHRAE-UNEP partnership and to enable ASHRAE members to assist in promoting the transition to lower GWP refrigerants. To assist the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (RAC) industry in developing countries, ASHRAE also makes the training freely available to UNEP’s OzonAction network of policy officers and UNEP clients, including government officials.

The portal is located at ASHRAE UNEP Portal.

ASHRAE and UNEP collaborate under a Cooperation Agreement first signed in 2007. The agreement enables UNEP to access industry experts in all fields relating to refrigerant development and application, air conditioning and refrigeration. The second benefit of the collaboration is that the products produced inspire confidence and global acceptance because of their reliance on ASHRAE standards, research and other ASHRAE resources. Thirdly, ASHRAE’s presence through members, chapters and associate societies covering more than 130 nations, provides a multi-national platform, especially in developing countries, for development of locally relevant technical guidance.

The ASHRAE-UNEP Portal is a joint activity included in the organizations’ 2019/2020 Work Plan, the latest in a series of biennial plans agreed to by an ASHRAE and UNEP leadership team. The 2019/2020 plan is themed “Refrigerant Management for Developing Countries.” The Cooperative Agreement and current Work Plan are also in the portal.

Learning About Refrigerants 

All the ASHRAE eLearning courses in the portal are hosted on the web, enabling registrants to engage in learning at their own pace when convenient and allowing them to return as often as needed to complete the training. Courses include narration, interactive exercises, knowledge checks, final exam and certificate for successful completion. The web platform tracks course progress, credits earned and provides a certificate of completion that may be used for engineering and technician registration, licensing and certification. The courses were developed by ASHRAE-identified experts with support from UNEP.

“Refrigerants Literacy” is a 4.5 PDH course providing basic understanding about refrigerant types, policies, classifications and management practices. It explains why the ACR industry is transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants, making it essential for those working in the industry as government officials, sales engineers, facility managers and policy makers who do not have an engineering or technical background in ACR. Only available in SI units for its primary audience in developing countries, the course also can serve as an introduction to refrigerant basics for those new to the industry. Use of units is minimal in the course due to its nature. The course is available in English and Spanish languages. A French edition launches in November.

“Sound Management of Refrigerants” is a 6.5 PDH course reviewing best practices. Topics covered include principles of refrigerant recovery, recycling, and reclaiming; lubricants properties, applications, and compatibility with various refrigerants; safe handling, service, and installation of refrigeration equipment utilizing new-to-the-market refrigerants. The course also introduces refrigerant management programs, certification schemes and relevant policies and regulations. “Sound Management of Refrigerants” course helps engineers to better understand the practical aspects of refrigerant handling and can also be an incentive for technicians to engage with ASHRAE for their professional development. The course is currently available in English language only and only in SI units due to its primary audience being in developing countries.

ASHRAE has been chosen to distribute a 14.5-week course developed by UNEP for university level engineering students. Available to ASHRAE members who are instructors at ASHRAE student branches and other university and technical colleges, the instruction package for “Refrigerant Management” includes lecture notes, activity sheets, and course presentations. The objective is to provide future engineers with the knowledge required to manage refrigerants soundly, as well as gain an understanding of technical and policy aspects associated with the RAC industry. A link in the portal lets instructors request sample materials and later a full-course package. 

ASHRAE Influence in Developing Countries

The ASHRAE UNEP partnership has helped empower and educate National Ozone Units, government units in developing countries that are responsible for managing their national programs, to comply with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The 1987 international treaty through amendment also limits release of greenhouse gases to the environment.

ASHRAE members provide the expert knowledge for the development technical resources including training and the ASHRAE chapter structure provides “feet on the ground” to impact practice at the local level. Bryan Becker, Ph.D., P.E. Fellow/Life Member ASHRAE, who was a key contributor to the Refrigerant Literacy course, said this country-driven approach is a key success factor to implementing the protocol, especially in Article 5 countries where technical infrastructures are still developing. “It is important that the National Ozone Officers and their staff participate in this course. They then can apply the information presented in their respective countries to set up technician training and certification programs, refrigerant management programs and refrigerant legislation and regulations in their respective countries,” he said. 

Greg Jourdan, Member ASHRAE, was the lead contributor for the “Sound Management of Refrigerants” course. He was chosen to be an instructor in a prototype “train the trainer” program called the Refrigerant Driving License, a global refrigerant management initiative being implemented by UNEP and AHRI with support from ASHRAE and other industry groups to license technicians in the proper and safe handling of refrigerants.  Jourdan urged 36 new teachers in his South American classes to take the “Sound Management of Refrigerants” course, especially after he discovered some trainers did not know about the course and the ASHRAE classification system.

Tip of the Iceberg

ASHRAE’s involvement to date with UNEP is just the “tip of the iceberg.”  Said Becker, “The ASHRAE UNEP partnership has helped developing countries to begin to achieve several global environmental and technical goals including the goals of reducing refrigerants emissions, maximizing climate benefits in selecting alternative refrigerants, building the capacities of different HVAC&R stakeholders and facilitating the transfer and adoption of suitable technologies.”  

The new ASHRAE UNEP Portal will keep ASHRAE members advised of new program launches and will provide to ASHRAE members resources made available from the partnership. The Portal also includes news, fact sheets, information about the Lower GWP ASHRAE and UNEP award.

For information about the ASHRAE UNEP partnership, contact Steve Comstock, ASHRAE Manager of Business Development EMEA,