Natural refrigerants like ammonia/NH3 (R717) are a “really important part of decarbonization,” according to Ben Churchill, Chief Strategy Officer of CoolPlanet, an organization that supports businesses on their path to net zero.
Not only do they boost the efficiency of HVAC&R systems, reducing end users’ energy-related emissions, but they also “remove the issues related to f-gases,” he added. “We choose natural refrigerants because they’re just more energy efficient. They’re the right thing to do.”
Churchill delivered his remarks during a keynote presentation at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe Summit on natural refrigerants. The conference took place November 15–16 in Brussels, Belgium, and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of Ammonia21.com.
“We choose natural refrigerants because they’re just more energy efficient. They’re the right thing to do.”Ben Churchill, CoolPlanet
Race to zero
Founded in 2008, CoolPlanet aims to use technology and engineering to “transform the complex challenge of large-scale decarbonization into a significant commercial opportunity, repositioning it as an investment rather than a cost.”
According to its website, CoolPlanet’s products target business, transport, energy and supply chains. As detailed during Churchill’s ATMO Europe presentation, a lot of CoolPlanet’s work to date has focused on decarbonizing heating and cooling systems for its customers.
“Refrigerants are responsible for around 8–20% of the greenhouse gas problem,” he added. “This is a bigger problem than cement and at least four times worse than air travel, so why aren’t people talking about this?”
Refrigerant-related emissions fall largely under an end user’s scope 1 emissions – i.e., direct emissions from operations – due to refrigerant leakage. They also fall under a manufacturer’s scope 3 emissions – i.e., emissions from supply chain and product use.
While recognizing the importance of natural refrigerants in decarbonization efforts, “they’re not the only part,” said Churchill. They must be adopted in conjunction with other projects relating to energy supply – i.e., scope 2 emissions – and embedded carbon in the rest of the supply chain, he added.
Scope 3 emissions are of particular importance to many of CoolPlanet’s customers, said Churchill, making up to 98% of their carbon footprint.
To Churchill, it’s important for decarbonization efforts to become part of every organization, including its products and its messaging. Not only do customers care about emissions reductions, but investors and employees do as well, he explained.
ATMO Approved label
During his presentation, Churchill also commended the role that the ATMOsphere Approved label has to play in communicating manufacturers’ commitment and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“What I think is a really important step that ATMOsphere has taken is this idea of the ATMO Approved label,” he said. “To say that we’re going to take best-in-class companies and best-in-class products and recognize them for what they are is helping everyone. This is to show people that a company’s products are going to help end users meet their climate goals.”
Want to find out more, or have something to say about this story? Join the ATMO Connect network to meet and engage with like-minded stakeholders in the clean cooling and natural refrigerant arena.