The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and ESCO Group are collaborating on the development of a CO2 curriculum for community college and trade school HVACR programs. Together, they hope to address one of the root causes contributing to a shortage of technicians trained to install and service natural refrigerant technologies.
Natural refrigerants – including CO2, ammonia, and hydrocarbons – are climate friendly alternatives to traditional HFC refrigerants and have been identified as one of the most impactful climate solutions globally. As a result, supermarkets are facing increasing regulatory pressure to transition to climate-friendly refrigerant alternatives. But market barriers such as high upfront costs, a lack of performance data, and a shortage of technicians trained in natural refrigerants have prevented the widespread adoption of natural refrigerants.
Several factors contribute to the technician training challenge, including a shrinking workforce and limited training opportunities and resources. But in many cases, it begins with a lack of exposure to natural refrigerants during initial training because natural refrigerants have not been incorporated into school curricula at a national level.
NASRC is a 501c3 nonprofit working in partnership with over 130 stakeholders from the supermarket refrigeration industry to overcome the barriers to natural refrigerant adoption in supermarkets, including technician training.
“Technicians should be exposed to advanced refrigeration technologies, including natural refrigerants, as early as possible in their training,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of NASRC. “We’re pleased to be partnering with ESCO Group to ensure new technicians entering the field are prepared to expand on their natural refrigerant training and work on the latest technology innovations.”
ESCO Group, an educational and training body for the HVACR industry, is the primary source of HVACR curriculum for schools in the US and a leading training entity for school instructors through their annual HVAC Excellence Conference.
“As the industry shifts its focus to low-GWP and natural refrigerants, the ESCO Group is honored to be working with the NASRC on the development of a CO2 curriculum,” said Randy Petit, CMHE, ESCO Group vice president of program development. “With a mission to improve the technical competency of the HVACR industry through standards, certification, and education, ESCO is excited to be part of developing a program that will provide a strong foundation for commercial refrigeration technicians of the future.”
NASRC and ESCO Group have formed a committee composed of CO2 experts, training specialists, contractors and technicians, equipment manufacturers, and school representatives to help develop the curriculum. The curriculum is expected to be finalized and available to schools in 2021.
“Once the curriculum is complete, our goal is to see it widely adopted by HVACR programs across the country to build a future technician workforce that is well-versed in CO2 technologies,” said Wright.