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Complying with the Clean Air Act on CFCs.

For the more than 100 building management professionals who gathered to hear top experts discuss "The Impact Of CFCs And The Clean Air Act" the message was quite urgent - the industry must plan quickly to meet new government requirements or face refrigerant shortages and equipment shutdowns. These new regulations may also force some owners to buy new air conditioning equipment.

The seminar, jointly sponsored by The Building Owners' and Managers' Association of Greater New York, Inc. (BOMA/NY) and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), was held at the Chemical Bank Building, 270 Park Avenue, on April 21.

Carl Borsari, RPA/PE, chairman of the BOMA/NY-REBNY Joint Committee on the Building Environment and senior vice president of Newmark & Co., and Kenneth M. Block, vice chairman of the committee and a Partner in LePartner Block Pawa & Rivelis, were the seminar moderators.

Comparing the industry's situation "to the day before the asbestos laws went into effect," Ernest A. Conrad, PE, president of Landmark Facilities Group, Inc., the first speaker, presented a series of charts which explained the current replacement for different chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in air conditioning equipment. The importance of the term "current" is that while the production of many refrigerants now in use will cease within the next few years, some of their alternatives may be phrased out as better chemicals are found.

CFC-11 refrigerant will be replaced by HCFC-123, a member of the hydrochlorofluorocarbon family; CFC-12 and CFC/HCFC-500 will be replaced by 134a; and HCFC-22, which will be outlawed for use on existing equipment in the year 2010, has no alternative yet. CFC-11, 12 and 500 will no longer be produced as of January 1, 1996, although one major producer, DuPont, will cease production voluntarily in January 1995, Conrad said.

Among the regulations being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are a requirement that A/C service technicians must be certified, licensing requirements to buy replacement refrigerant, the development and required installation of high-efficiency purge units and tighter unit leakage rules.

In explaining the sense of environmental urgency behind the drastic changes imposed on the industry, Conrad said that 80 percent of global warming is caused by auto emissions. Of the 13 Percent contributed by CFCs and HFCs, governments are trying to reduce this amount to 1 percent.

Regardless of the gravity of the effects of global warming and ozone depletion, the real estate industry faces some tough choices - Conrad in fact predicts that despite EPA attempts to establish regulations that would establish controls, a black market in refrigerants is inevitable.

Mavis Sanders, a program analyst with the EPA in Washington, painted a bleak picture of the earth's ozone condition, tying its results to the rising rate of melanomas and cataracts, and increased radiation, while noting that further depletion could threaten food production, from farm crops to fish.

Sanders said that the EPA would strictly enforce Section 608 of the Clean Air Act which Prohibits venting of refrigerants during the servicing, repair or disposal of refrigeration equipment after July 1, 1992. She cited the recent case of a construction crew that was slapped with an $18,000 fine for violating the venting law during the construction of a shopping center.

Block warned that EPA fines could be as high as $25,000 a day adding that the law provides up to $10,000 in payments to informants for information leading to civil conviction and penalties. He also cautioned that failure to check for leaks could raise costly legal liabilities.

On the positive side, Block noted that obsolete refrigerants could be transferred and exchanged between facilities owned by the same person or corporate entity or partnership.

Sanders stated that the EPA is expecting serious shortages of refrigerants, ordering delays for equipment retrofits (which will trigger higher prices) and plant shutdowns when the next round of regulations takes effect in two years.

Warns Sanders, "Planning now can avert a crisis." Among the recommended steps she suggested were: - designating a "refrigeration manager," who with the support of upper level management would be able to make and implement decisions.

* Conduct a detailed equipment inventory

* Quickly develop and implement a plan to phase out inefficient equipment

* Conserve CFCs through such measures as leak detection and recycling drop-in" substitutions

She encouraged owners and managers to call the special EPA hotline for a copy of the new Section 608 regulations and other information, 1-800-296-1996. Sanders can be reached at her office at (202)-233-9737.
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Title Annotation:Building Owners' and Managers' Association of Greater New York Inc. and Real Estate Board of New York co-sponsor seminar entitled 'The Impact of CFCs and the Clean Air Act'; chlorofluorocarbons
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 2, 1993
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