Dealing with rooftop units (RTUs) at the end of life can be a financial and environmental liability. In addition, it’s a challenge to keep up with changing regulations. On September 12, 2017, the Advanced RTU Campaign hosted an informational webinar about upcoming changes in RTU regulations, and how to simultaneously minimize the environmental impacts and gain value from old RTUs.
Since 1996, 20 million commercial RTUs have been sold in the United States, and they are estimated to cool over 50 percent of commercial building floor area. These RTUs represent many tons of steel, copper, aluminum, plastic, refrigerant, oil, and other metals, with refrigerants having the largest potential environmental impact. Not commonly known, the environmental impact of refrigerants are so large that refrigerant management has been ranked as the number one solution to impact climate change. The types of refrigerants in RTUs has evolved over the years, based on performance, environmental impact, toxicity, and flammability, and driven by policy changes requiring the phasing out of specific types of refrigerants. Regulations continue to change around maintenance of RTUs, including enforcement of record-keeping of refrigerant disposal and tighter leak detection and repair regulations.
So where does equipment go after you contract RTU disposal? The answer depends on the contractor. Make sure you work with a reputable contractor that provides proper documentation. Many times, the contractors responsible for disposal make after-project profits from recycling the newer parts of an RTU. RTU parts that have been purchased within two years of disposal, including compressors and motors, can be reused to offset purchasing new replacement parts for other RTUs in your inventory. With proper documentation and inclusion of recycling forms in project specifications, RTU owners can start gaining financial value from RTU recycling. The EPA has additional details on proper disposal of HVAC equipment and updated refrigerant management requirements.
If you missed the webinar in September, you can see the slides and watch the recording here. Moderated by Marta Schantz with Waypoint Building Group, the webinar included speakers Michael Deru from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, along with Jason Benton and Josh Marler from AES Industries.
The Advanced RTU Campaign is a nation-wide initiative that promotes RTU efficiency via high-efficiency replacements, advanced control retrofits, and quality maintenance/installation practices. If you’re interested in learning more about RTU disposal or RTU efficiency for your own buildings, join the Advanced RTU Campaign as a Participant. By joining, building owners and operators gain technical support from RTU experts at the national laboratories, recognition for leadership in RTU efficiency, and access to case studies and guidance documents to support your organization’s RTU activities.