The Real Estate Board of New York to The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s on Their Proposed Rule to Phase Out Certain Refrigerants

Ryan Monell

Vice President of Legislative Affairs

March 18, 2024

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. REBNY appreciates this opportunity to submit testimony on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) plan to phase out certain refrigerants based on their Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Many refrigerants used in cooling equipment such as chiller plants and air conditioners have high to extremely high GWP, which means that, when they escape into the atmosphere, they are very efficient and effective at trapping and holding heat. As a result, they are significant contributors to climate change. There have been state, national, and international efforts in the past to phase out various common refrigerants, due to both their GWP and because they were the primary contributor to ozone depletion.

A 2020 New York State law required an 85% decrease in refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2036. The draft rule proposed by the DEC would reduce HFCs by 40% by 2034, while an earlier rule from 2020 aligned the State with the current proposed phase out of HFCs by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Beyond phasing out HFCs, the regulation includes reporting requirements, leak repair, and other conditions regarding the sale, use, and supply of HFCs, as well as expanding the list of products and systems that are regulated. The draft rule will not require users to replace existing products or equipment.

New York State is basing its new regulations on a 20-year GWP value of less than 10 for these gases, which is significantly stricter than most other states and the EPA, which uses a 150-year GWP value. Therefore, this rule, when fully implemented, will be significantly stricter than the federal limits on HFCs.


REBNY strongly supports the intent of DEC’s draft rule and is fully committed to meeting the goals and mandates of reducing emissions to prevent further impacts to global climate change. However, as per the below, we are very concerned that the proposal is not achievable within the time frame presented in the draft regulation.

From discussions with relevant industry and other stakeholders, REBNY is concerned that the proposed rule will add problems to what is already a difficult situation. Manufacturers are already struggling to meet the January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, phase outs. Those phase outs would force users to move to A2L refrigerants while air conditioning equipment manufacturers are still developing equipment that can use those refrigerants. In addition, in New York City, the Fire Code currently does not even address A2L refrigerants, although there are plans to remedy this situation.

For the much deeper cuts to refrigerant chemicals slated for the mid-2030s, the regulations would only leave refrigerants that are highly flammable, such as propane, isobutane, and propylene; or highly toxic, such as ammonia. Those refrigerants that would be allowed under the regulations would not meet current UL safety standards and are not allowed by the mechanical or fire codes. Given NYC FDNY’s reluctance to take on far less flammable and non-toxic AL2, we should expect considerable pushback from that agency.

In addition to the standards and codes issues referenced above, refrigerants that meet the proposed GWP values cannot be used, at least at this point, in equipment other than very small mini-splits. Equipment such as chillers, HPs, and VRFs would not be usable at this time under the proposed rule.

Consequently, REBNY believes that DEC needs to adjust refrigerant regulations to meet the reality of where the industry, equipment, standards and codes, and cooling needs are.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony.