This prerequisite focuses on the elimination of CFC-based refrigerants that contribute to ozone depletion in HVAC&R equipment.
The credit 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; commercial refrigeration equipment; and fire suppression systems. 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.
For projects using CFC-based equipment in the tenant spaceTenant space is the area within the LEED project boundary. For more information on what can and must be in the LEED project boundary see the Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) and LEED 2009 MPR Supplemental Guidance. Note: tenant space is the same as project space. or a central plant, the LEED Reference Guide had recommended development of a CFC phase-out plan, or a qualified third-party audit showing that a phase-out plan is not economically feasible. However, this requirement was removed with LEED addendum issued 5/9/11.
If your project is using an existing HVAC system, investigate the type of refrigerant being used. If CFCs are being used, discuss equipment or conversion options with the building manager and owner.
If your project is purchasing new HVAC&R equipment, you'll automatically meet this prerequisite. The Montreal Protocol treaty mandated a complete phase out of CFC-based refrigerants by 1995, and HCFCs by 2030 in developed countries. As a result, compliant, environmentally preferable refrigerants are the only option available for new systems.
This prerequisite applies to all space conditioning and refrigeration systems included in the LEED scope of work, including:
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.
For existing buildings, equipment installed before 1995 potentially contains CFCs. Check the specifications on the manufacturer’s website to be sure existing equipment does not contain CFCs.
Confirm that the selection of refrigerant in your project’s HVAC&R systems is CFC-free.
Complete your documentation through LEED Online by providing the HVAC&R equipment type, manufacturer, model number, installation date, and refrigerant used; state whether the equipment is for the LEED project only or from a central plant.
Specify high-quality equipment with a dependably long lifespan. That way leakage is minimized at those times that carry the greatest risks; when the equipment is being installed or decommissioned. (For information about the service life of different types of HVAC equipment, see the 2007 ASHRAE Applications Handbook—HVAC Applications. See Resources.)
Keep HVAC&R equipment cut sheets on file in the case that there is an urgent problem with the refrigerant in the equipment so that the refrigerant can be handled or replaced properly.
Refrigerants are not harmful to the environment until they are released into it. That’s most likely to occur during installation, maintenance, and removal. Hire a contractor that uses best-practice refrigerant management techniques to minimize leakage rates during operations and when installing new or removing old equipment.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors
To reduce stratospheric ozone depletion.
Zero use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-based refrigerants in tenant heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems used within the LEED project scope of work.
You may use the LEED v4 version of this credit on v2009 projects. For more information check out this article.
For new installations, specify new HVAC equipment that uses no CFC-based refrigerants. When reusing existing HVAC systems, conduct an inventory to identify equipment that uses CFC-based refrigerants and replace or retrofit these systems with non-CFC refrigerants.
Project teams are encouraged to either locate in buildings that have no CFC-based refrigerants or to influence the building owner to use such systems to reduce ozone depletion.
SNAP is an EPA program to identify alternatives to ozone-depleting substances. The program maintains up-to-date lists of environmentally friendly substitutes for refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, solvents, fire-suppression systems, adhesives, coatings, and other substances.
To determine the service life of a piece of HVAC equipment.
If you’re considering a conversion, this chart shows typical refrigerants types and conversion recommendations.
The table ranks commonly used refrigerants based on their life in the atmosphere which increases the GWPGlobal Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of substances’ ability to absorb heat and warm the atmosphere relative to carbon dioxide, which has a GWP of 1, over a given time period. .
Article describing the movement towards Halon free chemicals with a comparative analysis.
If you need to complete a CFC phase-out plan for LEED compliance, here's a sample.
This sample equipment spec sheet highlights the data points and calculations you'll need to use to determine the refrigerant charge (Rc) input required for LEED documentation.
Use this refrigerant management calculator to track and document your compliance with EAp3 and EAc4. You may also use the LEED Online credit form to document compliance, but that form has a finite number of rows, whereas this one can be expanded indefinitely. If you choose to use this calculator, add a narrative in LEED Online about using a supplemental calculator to complete calculations, and upload the document on LEED Online.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each CI-2009 EA credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED
Online for each credit you hope to earn.
Version 4 forms (newest):
Version 3 forms:
These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions for these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
Complete documentation for achievement of EAp3 on a LEED-CI 2009 project.
I am working on LEED CI EAp3, and we have central chiller units out of project boundary.
I saw the article saying "DES having no effect on any LEED CI EA prerequisite or credit".
Does that mean we can't apply DES to our project?
Please provide me advice on this.
Thanks in advance,
Ok - consensus has been and reviewers have supported that existing base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. HVAC and central plant systems are exempt from this prereq.
Now, does anyone know if reused equipment - laboratory freezers, etc. are also exempt? I haven't reviewed an inventory yet, but it could be that some are over 0.5 lbs of refrigerant.
As there is no Enhanced Refrigerant Management credit in LEED CI is it possible to pursue this under an Innovation in Design credit ? Has anyone succesfully pursued this with USGBC and if so does the whole building need to comply or just the systems within the project scope of the tenant fitout ? any thoughts / experience would be appreciated.
Vivien, that's a tough question. Generally the absence of an Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. option on a given credit explicitly means that no ID point wil be available even if an exemplary threshold is reached.
However, in this case the credit doesn't even exist. I would thus say that it is an open possibility.
I was curious if you actually pursued/applied for this innovation design credit? Or has anyone else applied for this innovation credit before?
I have a current project looking to potentially pursue this as an innovation credit in CI.
I googled 'LEED CI Required Signatory' to identify a list to help me assign roles to team members (as admin).
Top result brought me back to LEEDOnline:
Can someone confirm this list is outdated?
Because it identifies a required signatory for this credit as 'Fit-Out Project Manager' - bizzare title, and when I look on LO, there are no RS boxes.
I have not seen that list before now, it's tricky to say if it's outdated or not. There are different versions of each LEED-Online form (from BETA to v3 or v4). In many cases each version has different required signatories. Thus I find the best way to create this list is to actually go into LEED-Online and look at each credit form, then I just assign whomever needs to sign to each credit. In some cases I have one project using older forms with one set of signatories and others with newer forms and different required signatures.
I know this isn't the most ecconomical sollution, but I'm not aware of any up-to-date list that includes each form revision.
In the May 2011 Addenda to this credit, the references to a CFC Phaseout Plan have been removed.
Location: Economic Issues
Remove the last two sentences of the section, beginning with, "If savings
offset costs…" to, "economically infeasible"
Location: 5. Timeline and Team
Remove the second sentence, "If CFC-based refrigerants are located,
the building owner should develop a phase-out plan and convert to less
environmentally harmful refrigerants."
Since the credit states that only HVAC systems built for the project are within the scope of this work, would this simplify the interpretation to "Don't install CFC-based refrigeration equipment"?
Michelle, I do think that sums it up, yes.
I'm looking at this prereq right now and need to verify what the May 2011 addenda states. Note that it was accompanied by the following change in the Rating System language under Potential Technologies & Strategies:
When reusing existing HVAC systems, conduct an inventory to identify equipment that uses CFC-based refrigerants and replace or retrofit these systems with non-CFC refrigerants.
this is confusing as to whether an inventory and replacement of refrigerants for reused/existing equipment (in this case from a central plant) is a requirement or not - some help?
Michele, I'm not seeing the change you are referring to. Are you sure you're looking at ID&C addenda? They can be downloaded here.
You can also search for addenda through the interpretations page (https://www.usgbc.org/leedinterpretations/lilanding.aspx).
At this point, inventory and replacement for base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. equipment that is outside of the CI scope of work is not required. The credit form doesn't ask for any basebuilding information, either.
looks like the language was added for the 2009 version
but basically, I'm referring to the fact that the Rating System language under Potential Technologies & Strategies is inconsistent with the actual requirements - it's probably left over from the May 2011 addenda that removed the inventory requirement.
But thanks Ante for the clarification !
Hi all, I'm still a little unclear on this issue. Ante, are you saying that if the project is a complete gut & remodel, and the base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. equipment could therefore be considered inside the scope of work, we would be responsible for removing CFCsChlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a compound of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine and fluorine, once commonly used in refrigeration, that depletes the stratospheric ozone layer., but if the base building equipment is outside of our scope, we do not need to address it?
As Michele mentions, the LEED-CI Rating System - which was updated in 2012 after the addenda - states "when reusing existing HVAC systems, conduct an inventory to identify equipment that uses CFC-based refrigerants and replace or retrofit those systems with non-CFC refrigerants." This still seems to imply we're on the hook for any existing CFCs, so I'm a bit apprehensive to advise my team that they're okay leaving CFC equipment in the base building. Thank you!
We have a small CI project with existing CFC-using base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. HVAC equipment that is not planned for replacement. Per the interpretations above it would seem these systems are outside of the scope of work and exempt from the prerequisite. However, some related systems will be modified - (1) ductwork within the TI space, and (2) possibly moving the HVAC onto vibration mounts. Would either of these two activities be interpreted as having modified or having influence over the HVAC equipment, consequently including the HVAC in the LEED scope of work? Thank you!
I would think not—these seem like pretty superficial modifications.
Our building Owner concedes that a third party economic audit to determine the feasiblity of retrofitting the existing equipment will likely be an exercise that needs to be done for our compliance with this prerequisite; however, they ask if there is any established criteria for this audit? page 149 (under heading "6") specifically calls it an "economic" audit:
--Does a CPA have to perform it?
--If not a CPA, who can/must do the audit?
--What criteria should/must be included?
The existing AHU1.Air-handling units (AHUs) are mechanical indirect heating, ventilating, or air-conditioning systems in which the air is treated or handled by equipment located outside the rooms served, usually at a central location, and conveyed to and from the rooms by a fan and a system of distributing ducts. (NEEB, 1997 edition)
2.A type of heating and/or cooling distribution equipment that channels warm or cool air to different parts of a building. This process of channeling the conditioned air often involves drawing air over heating or cooling coils and forcing it from a central location through ducts or air-handling units. Air-handling units are hidden in the walls or ceilings, where they use steam or hot water to heat, or chilled water to cool the air inside the ductwork. that serves our tenant project seeking LEED certification is only one of several tenant spaces that the AHU serves...if the unit is to be retrofitted, then this WILL affect ductwork and distribution to all other tenant spaces since the newer (non-CFC- based) refrigerants have been determined by our engineer to not be as "efficient" in cooling production and distribution would necessarily be changed to the other tenants as well...it seems logical that the economic audit would want to take this into consideration, but is there a formal audit outline?
I cannot find any such reference in the template for this prerequisite.
Thanks for any guidance!
Kathy, I've asked around and haven't gotten a response.
I don't think there are any official guidelines on this, or enough precedent to track a clear course. I thin you simply have to show that you've done a defensible job. The credentials of CPA would certainly help. Seems reasonable to include ductwork and other systems that would be affected by a retrofit.
Our Owner will be going about obtaining a 3rd part economic audit, however, they have already planned to replace the existing units by 2020 (it is planned for in their long-term capital plan).
You have commented above that there is a 10-year consideration in that if it is determined to have a longer payback than 10 years that there is then an exemption to having to replace/retrofit the units but that the calculations/audit will need to be included in our credit submission.
Does the fact that our units will be replaced by 2020 (less than 10 years from the time that we'll submit) complicate our situation? Should we even aknowledge this fact in our narrative?
Seems like a Catch-22. If they will be updating the systems within 10 years one would think they consider it economically justifiable. Given that, do you think you can get an audit that supports the exemption?
Not mentioning the capital plan is certainly an option, although I couldn't comment on its advisability.
The problem is that they don't have the financing now and it's not on their horizon until 2020. They concede it needs to be done, but that it just inside the 10-year criteria for their capital plan.
It waits to be seen whether the audit will support this notion, but considering the extent to which the unit serves other tenant spaces, I suspect that it would show a payback well beyond 10-years.
From our understanding, the economic feasibility study is a recommendation but not a credit requirement. The base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. systems are called out for best practice to undertake an audit. As stated above, they are not subject to the credit requirements if the project chooses to not discuss them.
LEED Reference Guide states on p.148 under Section 4. Implementation, ". . .only HVAC systems built for the project are within the scope of work." but on p.150 under Section 11. Operations and Maintenance Considerations "...for all refrigerant-containing systems, including fire suppression."
May I know if fire suppression system is counted in this credit? If not, is there no other credits related to fire suppression system? Thanks!
I've had dialogue with several people, including on the technical staff at USGBC about this question, since as you point out it is a bit unclear in the Reference Guide and other materials.
As best I can tell, for LEED-CI EAp3, fire suppression systems and CFC prohibition are only in effect if those systems are within the tenant scope of work. If those systems ARE within the scope of work, CFCsChlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a compound of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine and fluorine, once commonly used in refrigeration, that depletes the stratospheric ozone layer. may not be used.
If a project team has an ambiguous situation relative to this requirement, it is recommended that they get a CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide.
A Credit Interpretation Ruling from 1/12/2009 indicates that since R22 is an HCFC that it meets the Refrigerant prerequisite. But I read somewhere (and now I can't find it) that CIRs before a certain date in 2009 are invalid. Can anyone shed some light on this?
Is it safe to extrapolate that R-134a, listed in the manual as an HFC, is also ok?
CIRs are no longer officially precedent setting, but they do provide a useful data point.
In any case, both R-22 and R-134a should be fine for thie prerequisite, since they are not CFCsChlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a compound of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine and fluorine, once commonly used in refrigeration, that depletes the stratospheric ozone layer..
What is clear is that all equipment within the LEED-CI scope must be CFC-free. Whether this extends to the base-building systems is still unclear. Although the prerequisite seems to include only systems within the LEED project scope of work - it is suggested that the base-building owner develop a phase-out plan if CFC-using equipment. To be conservative, we recommend having a third-party audit of base-building systems to determine if the savings of replacing the system will offset the costs over a ten year period (similar to BD&C). If savings offset costs, have the owner develop a phase out plan. If savings do not offset costs over ten years, sumbit the calculations showing that.
Thanks so much for the response! I appreciate your take on the credit interpretation and will err on the side of caution as well and advise the building owner (whose equipment is 20 yrs old) to develop a CFC phase out program.
If you hear anything definitively from the USGBC regarding and official ruling - please pass it on. I will do the same. Thanks again.
Where in any LEED Reference Guide and/or addenda is there discussion of the payback period?
I cannot find any reference to a 10-year payback being the defining timeline for exemption from this prerequisite exept for the discussion of this credit here on LEEDuser.
I will double-check on this, but the 10-year period is specified in the LEED-EBOM EAp3 credit language. Even though this isn't specified in LEED-CI, with the alignment process that took place for LEED 2009, this kind of definition typically carries across LEED rating systems.
Tristan: Thank you so much for checking into that...it's confusing enough without having to consider cross-pollination of rating systems!
Daniel: some additional thoughts I have on the confusion of existing HVAC&R equipment which use CFC-based refrigerants:
The root cause of the confusion, as noted by Robin above, seems to lie on page 148 of the LEED ID+C Reference Guide under heading 4. Implementation, which reads: “Use only non-CFC-based refrigerants in all base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. HVAC&R equipment built for the project; only HVAC systems built for the project are within the scope of work.”
I humbly believe that the last clause in this sentence refers to NEW equipment. NEW equipment which serves the tenant spaceTenant space is the area within the LEED project boundary. For more information on what can and must be in the LEED project boundary see the Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) and LEED 2009 MPR Supplemental Guidance. Note: tenant space is the same as project space. must use non-CFC based refrigerants.
For clarity, it might have been better had this read "the scope of work includes only (NEW) HVAC systems built for the project AND any existing HVAC&R equipment which serves the tenant space must phase-out CFC-based refrigerants or otherwise demonstrate that it is not economically feasible to do so".
District Energy Systems would still follow the technical guidance as referenced on page 149)
To support the contention that the credit intent is to address existing building HVAC&R equipment that serves the CI tenant, read on the same page 148 the discussions under Economic Issues: “…existing buildings may have CFC-based refrigeration equipment. Energy, demand, and maintenance systems, If savings offset costs, a CFC phase-out plan must be implemented to earn this prerequisite. If savings do not offset costs, detailed calculations and the results of a qualified third-party audit must confirm that CFC conversion or replacement is economically infeasible.”
Similarly, read the discussion on page 149 under 5. Timeline and Team: “Consult with a mechanical engineer or HVAC&R specialist to confirm the presence of CFC-based refrigerants in the base building HVAC&R systems, If CFC-based refrigerants are located, the building owner should develop a phase-out plan and convert to less environmentally harmful refrigerants. Do not install any systems with CFC-based refrigerants."
Lastly, read the statements under 6. Calculations: “There are no calculations associated with this prerequisite unless a third-party economic audit is conducted to determine feasibility of retrofitting existing equipment”.
It seems to me that this credit intent is very clear that new equipment must not use any CFC-based refrigerants and that existing equipment THAT SERVES THE TENANT SPACE that contains CFC-refrigerants must be shown by a third party analysis to be economically feasible (in which a phase-out plan is required) or not economically feasible (in which case there may be an exemption to this prerequisite).
I also believe that existing HVAC&R equipment that might contain CFC-based refrigerants that do NOT serve the tenant space would NOT be in the scope of this prerequisite. (If the building Owner could be persuaded to change ALL equipment that was not compliant but which did not serve the tenant space in question, might this be a possible ID credit opportunity since it would fall without the LEED boundary/scope of work?)
That one sentence on page 148 causes so much confusion when everything else seems very clear.
I would like to point out here that the 'Implementation' section in the Reference Guide is generally an explanation of the credit suggesting possible strategies of complying with it. It is not the same as the 'Requirements' of a credit. The base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. systems are called out for best practice and recommend an audit. As state above, the base building systems and those serving other tenants are not subject to the credit requirements.
We have just received our review acknowledging our phase out plan for CFC based equipment. The next line reads "However the refrigerant quantities as a percentage of the overall equipment has not been provided, as required for this compliance path." What are we missing? Please help!
Can you provide a bit more context about the systems installed and the review? That would be helpful.
Hello LEED Community at large. . .
My mechanical engineer is interpreting this Prereq. based on the LEED Reference Guide for ID&C which states on page 148 under Section 4. Implementation, ". . .only HVAC systems built for the project are within the scope of work." "Built for the project" would imply that base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. systems that were previously designed and installed at the time of construction of the building - not the TI work - are exempt from the no CFC requirement.
However the information on this site leads me to believe that the existing base building HVAC&R equipment that serves the TI space IS subject to the no CFC requirement.
Help me out! Which interpretation is correct?
I have the same fuzziness as Robin, the reference guide is unclear about base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. systems. Please help.
If our project is providing most of the HVAC from dedicated units but the restrooms and hallway have base building HVAC from uncertain equipment....what do we do?
Hi Sue, I think this question is answered below under the heading "help with interpretation." Let us know if you still have questions after reading this.
Well not really- I still read the LEED CI 2009 Reference Guide to exclude the base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. HVAC.....if it is not in the LEED Scope of Work. I'd like to know if I'm understanding it correctly because your answers indicate that everyone thinks the base building needs to be CFC free. Or in my case- the district heating and cooling system....
This has not been update for LEED 2009, but you may find it helpful to review the LEED guidelines for district energy.
Based on that it seems pretty clear that you are off the hook here.
Kristin, thanks, I read the Distrit Energy document you referenced, but unfortunately I could not find any addiional clarity on the question and if existing equipment and its refrigerant is exempt ofrom EAp3, or do we need to develop a phase out plan. It sems like a straightforward question that should be crystal clear for any prere. I also don't see how LEED could justify not excluding equipment in one prereq. if exisitng equipment is excluded anywhere else such as in EAp2-- for the sake of consistency of thought process across credits if nothing else. Thoughts? John
John, I had dialogue with a USGBC contact about this, and confirmed that the requirement is, as the language (see above) states, “Zero use of … within the LEED project scope of work.” Under Implementation, the Reference Guide states, “only HVAC systems built for the project are within the scope of work,” even though base buildingThe base building includes elements such as the structure, envelope, and building-level mechanical systems, such as central HVAC, etc. systems are mentioned above that.
If the tenant does anything to influence the base building system, then it becomes part of the tenant scope of work, but would appear to otherwise be outside of it.
See my related comment below about fire suppression systems.
LEEDuser is produced by BuildingGreen, Inc., with YR&G authoring most of the original content. LEEDuser enjoys ongoing collaboration with USGBC. Read more about our team
Copyright 2016 – BuildingGreen, Inc.