United Nations Environment Programme environment for development
Protecting the ozone layer and the climate system safely

Protecting the ozone layer and the climate system safely

Capacity building of refrigeration technicians in good practices and safe handling of flammable refrigerants

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“The St. Kitts and Nevis Government has paid particular attention to the products and practices used by local refrigeration and air conditioning practitioners. St. Kitts and Nevis, for 25 years, had been a committed player in the efforts at reducing ozone depleting substances, with a 100% phase out in CFCs even before the 2010 target.”

Dr. The Honourable Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis


The Issue

Based on the potential energy savings, a group of refrigeration servicing technicians in Saint Kitts and Nevis undertook the direct replacement of HCFC and HFC based A/C equipment with alternative flammable refrigerants, emitting HCFC’s to the atmosphere and lacking specific training on safe handling of flammable refrigerants. a practice that was soon replicated by other technicians and upscaled to larger equipment units. This situation raised the concerns of the local government and drew the attention of UNEP, due to the concern that a piece of equipment manufactured to work with a certain refrigerant (i.e. HCFC or HFC) would not perform as effectively with an alternative refrigerant. In addition, the handling of these alternatives — which are flammable  — requires specific training, certification schemes, and standards in place, in order to protect the integrity of operators and to reduce the risks of accidents.

Intervention

UNEP addressed this issue by identifying an internationally recognized expert with extensive experience in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, who provided the training to technicians in Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as support and advice to the National Ozone Unit and the national expert on the development of standards.

The objective was to build the capacity of refrigeration technicians in good practices in refrigeration, particularly introducing criteria on when it is possible to carry out the replacement of refrigerants, and procedures on how to accomplish this practice in a safely manner. In addition, the National Ozone Unit together with the national expert were advised on how to promote the development and adoption of standards related to safety issues of alternatives at the national level.

Successes

Enhanced capacity of 17 refrigeration technicians in good refrigeration practices and safe handling of flammable refrigerants.  National standards improved and the adoption process ready to start at the national level. 

The intervention was made to contribute to the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan, which aims at a potential reduction of 151.3 CO2-eq tones of GHG emissions from 2011 to 2014, or approximately 38 CO2-eq tones annually.