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    U.S. DoD, NASA and GSA Propose to Use HFC Alternatives Whenever Feasible

    August 04, 2015

    • In the Climate Action Plan, President Obama directed his Administration to purchase lower GWP alternatives to HFCs whenever feasible and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and General Services Administration (GSA) are proposing to amend their practices to meet the plan’s goals.

      The United States is making substantial progress in limiting use and reducing emissions of high global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Not only has the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just changed the status of HFCs to “unacceptable” for certain uses under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, the U.S. DoD, NASA, and GSA are taking the initiative to better align with the President’s Climate Action Plan and move toward using more sustainable substances.

      Joining forces, these federal agencies have proposed an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to procure alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) whenever feasible. In the FAR proposed amendment (PDF, 243.93 KB), the U.S. DoD, NASA and GSA specify, “when feasible, that contractors shall substitute acceptable lower global warming potential alternatives for high global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons in product and services.” According to the proposal, this will allow agencies to better meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and reporting requirements of the Executive Order (E.O.) 13693 of March 25, 2015, Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade.

      This proposed amendment, if finalized, impacts high GWP HFCs used in many common applications, including fire suppression, aerosol cleaning and precision cleaning.

      What does this mean for the fire suppression industry?

      Specific to the fire suppression industry, the proposal would add a contract clause to substitute acceptable alternatives to ozone depleting substances and high GWP HFCs in solicitations and contracts within the U.S. for “clean agent fire suppression systems/equipment (e.g., installed room flooding systems, portable fire extinguishers, aircraft/tactical vehicle fire/explosion suppression systems).”

      In addition to the contract clause above, the proposal also requires reporting. The FAR proposed amendment states that for equipment and appliances typically requiring 50 or more pounds of HFCs, the contractor must track on an annual basis the amount of HFCs contained in the equipment and appliances delivered to the Government under the contract.

      Luckily, the fire suppression industry is well equipped with sustainable alternatives to HFCs. From its inception, 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid was designed to address the global demand for a clean agent fire suppression solution that is not targeted for emission reduction, phase-out or phase-down. 3M is so confident that Novec 1230 fluid will continue to meet environmental and safety standards far into the future that it comes with 20-year protection against losses arising from regulatory action: the 3M™ Blue Sky℠ Warranty.

      Compare the environmental impact (PDF, 199.62 KB) of Novec 1230 fluid versus high GWP HFCs and learn more at 3M.com/Novec1230fluid.

      How are cleaning applications affected by the proposed amendment?

      The proposed amendment to FAR (PDF, 243.93 KB)​ also would add several clauses that impact aerosol and precision cleaning solicitations and contracts. The proposed clause states that the “Contractor shall reduce its use, release or emissions of high GWP HFCs whenever possible and use acceptable alternatives for:

      • Solvents, dusters, freezing compounds, mold release agents, and any other miscellaneous chemical specialty
      • Fluorocarbon lubricants (primarily aerosols)
      • Aerosol products used for maintenance, or repair of electronic or mechanical devices that may contain high GWP HFCs as a propellant or as a solvent

      This amendment has been put forth because there are lower GWP alternatives available now for these applications. In fact, 3M offers a family of low GWP, non-ozone depleting 3M™ Novec™ Aerosol Cleaners with all the cleaning power, low toxicity and minimal environmental impact. 3M has also developed a full line of sustainable 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids for precision cleaning and aerosol formulations to meet the needs of the market in this ever-changing regulatory environment.

      Explore all the ways Novec products can help you transition to a more sustainable future.

      3M and Novec are trademarks of 3M Company.

      Blue Sky is a service mark of 3M.

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