Refrigerants in the building. Towards a replacement of all installations?

Refrigerants are mainly used in cold production facilities but also in heating, particularly in tertiary buildings such as offices and shops.

There are mainly 3 main families:
– inorganic compounds: water, CO2, ammonia, etc.;
– hydrocarbons: propane, butane, isobutane;
– halogenated hydrocarbons: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

This last family is frequently found in the various cold production systems because it best meets the requirements of the air conditioning industry from a thermodynamic, technical and economic point of view.

Regulatory history of halogenated hydrocarbons

The impact of these refrigerants on the ozone layer and global warming has been demonstrated and their use is restricted.


The most used CFCs were R11, R12, R502 but have not been on the market since 2000.
HCFCs have been banned since 2015, but there are still many cold installations running on R22.
HFCs are the replacement refrigerants used mainly in new installations, but they are subject to significant restrictions. Indeed, even if they have no impact on the ozone layer, they strongly contribute to the greenhouse effect.
Among the most recurrent are R134A, R404A, R407C, R410A.

Refrigerant ban schedule

The F-Gas 2 regulation introduces bans on the use of HFCs according to their GWP (Global Warming Potential) and the sector of use.


For maintenance , new HFCs from PRP> 2,500 can no longer be used from 2020 for the maintenance of refrigeration equipment with a load greater than 40 t eq. CO2 (i.e. most commercial refrigeration installations). Only recycled fluids coming from the same site, or regenerated, can be used until 2030.

For new equipment , it should be remembered that from 2025, all bi-block type air conditioning equipment containing less than 3 kg of HFC with a GWP> 750 (therefore the three refrigerants most used in the building R410A, R134a and R407C) will then be prohibited.

Which fluids to choose in the future?

Manufacturers have already started working on substitute refrigerants to replace air conditioning systems in buildings.
R32 fluid is a very good replacement for R410A refrigerant.
With a GWP of 675, ie a third of that of R410A, it is a pure fluid (mono-molecule) which is very interesting from an environmental point of view and which can easily be recycled. On the other hand, it is slightly flammable, under certain conditions, which constitutes the main restriction on its use, in particular in ERPs (establishments open to the public).
HFOs are a new family of refrigerants developing today. Their GWP, which is much lower than HFCs, is a real step forward from an environmental point of view.
In particular, R1234ze with a GWP of 7 is intended for refrigeration and air treatment applications in buildings. But like R32, it is slightly flammable.
A table of replacement solutions for refrigerants has been proposed by Climalife according to the applications.


To find out more, do not hesitate to contact us!