Log in

Eliminate CFC-based refrigerant

This prerequisite focuses on the elimination of CFC-based refrigerants that contribute to ozone depletion in HVAC&R equipment. It’s an easy prerequisite to meet, since installing equipment without CFC-based refrigerants is now standard practice in new construction.

Nearly all industrialized nations have signed the Montreal Protocol, which called for a complete phase out of CFC-based refrigerants by 1995, and HCFCs by 2030 in developed countries. As a result, compliant, environmentally preferable refrigerants that comply with this prerequisite are the only option available for new systems. 

This prerequisite covers all space-conditioning and refrigeration systems included in the LEED scope of work, including chillers; unitary HVAC equipment (split and packaged); room and window air-conditioners; computer, data center, and telecom room-cooling units; and commercial refrigeration equipment. The prerequisite does not, however, apply to small units and other types of equipment, such as refrigerators and small water coolers that contain less than 0.5 pounds of refrigerant.

Remember that existing equipment must be addressed too. If existing equipment or a district chilled water system is being used, it must be CFC-free—or you (or the owner of the system) must replace or retrofit the equipment. The prerequisite strongly encourages projects to eliminate CFCs before the project’s completion. If that’s just not possible for your project, you'll need to adopt a post-occupancy phase out plan that clearly describes the barriers you’re encountering and includes a firm timeline. Additionally, you'll need to ensure that the annual leakage rate of CFC-based refrigerants is 5% or less.

What’s New in LEED v4

  • The option to demonstrate that conversion/replacement of CFC-based systems in not economically feasible is no longer available to BD+C v4 projects. Previously, projects could submit a third-party analysis showing that refrigerant replacement/conversion had a simple payback greater than ten years, and was therefore not economically feasible. This is no longer acceptable. Instead, major renovation projects must replace or retrofit all existing CFC-based equipment in the base building HVAC&R before the project’s completion. Projects with district energy systems (DES) must commit to refrigerant replacement/conversion within five years of “substantial completion” of the project.