REAL Alternatives 4 LIFE Project Becomes Independent of EU

EU funding has concluded for the REAL Alternatives 4 LIFE initiative, which facilitates training on low-GWP refrigerants, and the project is now running independently.

EU funding for the initiative began July 15, 2017 and concluded June 14 of this year, according to the European Commission website.

The project aims to accelerate the HVAC&R sector’s transition towards low-GWP refrigerants and thus reduce its CO2e emissions, according to the U.K-based Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) website. 

Over the past three years the initiative has trained technicians and educators in handling low-GWP refrigerants such as CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia (NH3), including 200 certified trainers, said a press release from the France-based International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR).  IIR also reported that the REAL Alternatives for LIFE achieved the following:

  • Training resources available in 17 languages.
  • Seven “train the trainer” sessions.
  • Nine free learning modules available online.
  • Four study-day events for teachers.
  • Twenty-three national certified organizations able to accredit trainers.
  • Over 5,000 individual learners registered.
  • Outreach to over several hundred thousand people globally.

In February of this year, REAL Alternatives 4 Life launched its free e-learning certificate on natural refrigerants.

All of these initiatives were bolstered by a high-profile awareness campaign to encourage recognition of the program among employers, wholesalers, manufacturers, end-users and policymakers, thereby “increasing confidence in the application of these new refrigerants,” said IIR.

The Centro Studi Galileo (CSG), an Italian training provider, worked with the initiative to give HVAC&R professionals the ability to teach the skills necessary to work with low-GWP refrigerants. CSG taught trainers from Croatia in 2019, and Somalia in February of this year.

Independent work

Now that funding has concluded, the REAL Alternatives 4 Life initiative will still operate as a training initiative. The “network of training providers, e-learning and training booklets and the website continue to be available and will not be withdrawn,” according to Miriam Rodway, CEO of the IOR.

The initiative’s purpose was to provide resources to the industry “for the long term, not just the three years of development work, and as part of that to be able to sustain the outputs after the EU funding ends.” The project is still ongoing and is being managed independently by the original consortium of technical organizations such as the IOR and IIR, according to Rodway.

The Project Management team for REAL Alternatives 4 Life comprises eight partners: IOR and London South Bank University in the U.K.; University College Limburg and AREA European Contractors Association in Belgium; IKKE Regional Training Centre in Germany; ATF Trade Association in Italy; PROZON Foundation for climate protection and refrigerant reclamation in Poland; and IIR.

A trend towards natural refrigerants

Based on the success of its training and advocacy, in February, “the project carried out a survey of the market to see how attitudes to the use of low-GWP refrigerants have changed over the past 3 years,” the IOR said. The survey found that “the transition to low-GWP refrigerant technologies is happening rapidly,” according to the IOR.

“The main driver for this change is, of course, legislative action by policymakers but there is an increasing awareness that climate-friendly alternatives are available and businesses are under more social pressure to address the climate change impact of their activity.”

The survey indicated the HVAC&R sector expects demand for low-GWP to grow for the next three to five years, and also that “these types of refrigerants will become mainstream in the future,” said the IOR.

More information and training resources can be found on the REAL Alternatives 4 Life website. 

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