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7. Economic benefits of sustainable initiatives

The Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC&R) industries in Australia contribute significantly to the economy and the production of greenhouse gases.

Sustainable initiatives and working sustainably in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries has great potential for economic benefits to businesses and their customers, as well as protecting the environment.

The AIRAH 2012, communiqué to the Australian government has listed some facts about the HVACR industry as:

  • Estimated to employ 160,00 individuals
  • Worth approximately $16 billion (2006)
  • Essential for the daily production and preservation of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food products
  • Provides air conditioned comfort for occupants of major public and private buildings, manufacturing facilities and residences
  • Refrigerant gases comprise approximately one (1) percent of Australia's annual direct greenhouse gas emissions
  • As much as 21.9 percent of all distributed electricity in Australia is used to power HVAC&R equipment
  • As much as 7 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is generated from HVAC&R equipment (2006 figures)

Sustainable workplace practices by all members of the HVACR industry can significantly reduce the use of raw materials, energy and refrigerants, and reduce the running and maintenance costs to businesses and consumers.

Carbon Tax

The Australian Government's comprehensive plan for securing a clean energy future will cut pollution and drive investment, helping to ensure Australia can compete and remain prosperous in the future. (Clean Energy Future, our Plan).

Part of the Government's Clean Energy Future Plan is to encourage energy efficiency and reduce the amount of electricity consumed by introducing a 'Carbon Tax'. As the cost of electricity rises, people are encouraged to use less electricity by using efficient technologies like LED low voltage lighting, compressor inverters and electronically commutated motors, or, find alternative renewable energy supplies generated from solar panels or wind generators.

power lines solar panels

Saving energy can be as simple as turning the switch off and not using it (if it is not essential!)

The Clean Energy Regulator, an independent statutory authority, administers the Australian carbon tax legislation that came into effect on 1 July 2012. Large facilities, (power stations for example), that produce more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) or its equivalent (CO2 - e), pay the tax. Facilities report their emissions through the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme.

The price in 2012-2013 is set at $23 per tonne, and it will increase as follows:

  • 2013-14 it is $24.15 a tonne, and
  • 2014-15 it is $25.40 a tonne.

From 1 July 2015, the scheme will change to a market driven system and the price will be variable. For more information on the Carbon Tax, visit the Clean Energy Regulator website.

Refrigerant Levy

Under the Australian Government's Clean Energy Future Plan, synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG's) listed under the Kyoto Protocol have an equivalent carbon price applied through the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management legislation.

greenhouse gas emmissions

Commencing 1 July 2012, a levy is applied to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at the point of import or manufacture. The price is the same as the Carbon Tax, however, as refrigerants have a much greater global warming potential (GWP) than Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the levy is multiplied by the GWP of the refrigerant.

The additional cost of the refrigerant will encourage businesses and customers to:

  • increase recycling of synthetic greenhouse gases
  • improve servicing of existing equipment to reduce leakage of refrigerant gases
  • switch to purpose-designed equipment using natural refrigerants where appropriate and meets relevant safety standards and legislative requirements
  • develop safe, low GWP refrigerants and suitably designed equipment for those refrigerants
  • From 1 July 2013, incentives will be provided for the destruction of waste synthetic greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances, recovered at end of life.

The HVAC&R industries will be forced to move towards the use of work practices and procedures that minimize the use of electrical energy and synthetic greenhouse gases (refrigerants).