Podcast
74
min read
James Dice

🎧 #132: Refrigerants: the Cinderella of the Decarbonization Movement

January 5, 2023
“You can electrify your way out of natural gas usage and move to renewable energy to get yourself out of scope two emissions but refrigerants are going to be the main solution for electrifying both water and space heating, which means a significant increase in refrigerant usage."

—Tristam Coffin

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Episode 132 is a conversation with Tristam Coffin, Co-Founder of Effecterra.

Summary

We started, as usual with Tristam’s background which includes heavy experience in the grocery vertical. But our main focus here is on sustainable refrigerants. We’ve spent a long time covering how the buildings industry needs to decarbonize by electrifying heating systems using heat pumps, but we and the industry as a whole have overlooked the elephant in the room: the GWP of refrigerants themselves and how they contribute to climate change and every organization’s progress toward net zero. Or, as Tristam said, refrigerants are like Cinderella: they haven’t been invited to the decarbonization ball.

Well, this episode is about why they should be perhaps first on the invite list.


📊 A message from our sponsor, Altura Associates 📊

​​Altura is a mid-sized, mission-driven firm delivering impact and performance across the built environment and they’re looking for the best in the industry to join their team. From designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs, to manipulating systems in the field to achieve performance, to building the tools that support project teams, Altura is committed to solving our world's macro-level problems through tangible projects today.

If you are interested in working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach out at careers@alturaassociates.com.


Mentions and Links

  1. Effecterra (2:06)
  2. Verge Climate Tech Event (4:42)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab (18:25)
  4. Reef (48:45)
  5. Project Drawdown (54:02)
  6. Emerson (1:05:01)
  7. IEA Reports (1:07:44)
  8. The 90 Billion Ton Opportunity: Lifecycle Refrigerant Management (1:08:27)
  9. After Cooling by Eric Dean Wilson (1:10:30)
  10. OpenAI (1:11:16)

You can find Tristam on LinkedIn.

Enjoy!

Highlights

  • Tristam’s background (2:09)
  • Keys to sustainability in the grocery vertical (5:57)
  • Important smart building tech in this vertical and status of deployment (8:23)
  • About Effecterra (13:41)
  • Why are refrigerants important? (19:39)
  • The Montreal Protocol? (22:01)
  • US AIM Act (27:31)
  • Companies including refrigerants in their inventory today (29:35)
  • What are low-GWP refrigerants? (34:34)
  • Challenges with incumbent HVAC OEMs (42:56)
  • High-level solutions for existing and new buildings (49:34)
  • The state of technology for using analytics to find leaks (56:04)
  • Industry training and upskilling (1:02:48)
  • Carveouts (1:06:55)

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The Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that believes the smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment, particularly as they relate to building operations and management, will enable a cleaner, healthier and more productive future. The SBCEP seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment, and pursues its objective through the following pillars of activity: delivering training programs to educate the building workforce of the future; enabling industry leading demonstration projects; and connecting the industry through hosting and participating in smart buildings events.

Check out their body of work on The Essential Role of Smarter Buildings in the Clean Energy Transition.


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Music credit: Dream Big by Audiobinger—licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

[00:00:33] James Dice: Altura associates is a midsize mission-driven firm, delivering impact and performance across the built environment in north America. And they're looking for the best in the industry to join their team from designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs to manipulating systems in the field to achieve optimized performance, to building the tools that support those project teams.

Altera is committed to solving our world's macro level problems through tangible projects today. If you're interested in [00:01:00] working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach at careersatalteraassociates.com. That's careers@alturaassociates.com.

[00:01:11] James Dice: This episode is a conversation with Tristin coffin. Co-founder at Tara. We started as usual with Tristan's background, which includes heavy experience in the grocery vertical. But our main focus here is insatiable refrigerants. We've spent a long time covering how the buildings industry needs to decarbonize by electrifying heating systems using heat pumps.

But we on the podcast and the industry as a whole have overlooked the elephant in the room, which is that the global warming potential over refrigerants themselves. Is super, super high and they contribute to climate change and every organization's progress towards net zero. So as Tristan said, refrigerants are like Cinderella. They haven't been invited to the de-carbonization ball and this episode is about why they should be perhaps the first on that invite list.

[00:01:58] James Dice: Hello, Tristan. Welcome to the [00:02:00] show. Can you introduce yourself?

[00:02:02] Tristam Coffin: I'd be happy to. Thanks for having me, James. Yeah. Tristan Coffin, co-founder and COO at EEC Terra.

[00:02:08] James Dice: All right. And I'd love to get into effect there in just a second. Can you talk about, and start with, with your background, how'd you get here?

[00:02:16] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, be happy to. Like, uh, many of us have been focused on the environment for some time in large part because I enjoy the great outdoors and, uh, all that it has to offer. Uh, so went into the environmental space, uh, formal education, started in the sciences and decided pretty quickly that I wanted to move more, uh, more into the engineering end of things.

So had a fairly interesting degree where it was multidisciplinary focused on engineering natural sciences, uh, as well as the business environment. So effectively environmental studies degree, but focused on the built environment end of things. Fast forward to post, uh, post school, uh, started looking for opportunities, uh, landed with a transportation research center.

So it was DOE, d o [00:03:00] t grant funded. Uh, started doing research in renewable energy and sustainable transportation, uh, and really got interested but was kind of bored in academic world and decided I wanted to get into the corporate space. So started having some resources and, landed at Whole Foods Market in a sustainability manager position, otherwise known as Green Mission Specialist at the time.

Uh, and that started off a 12 year career. So I spent. , four years on the East Coast, and remaining eight on the West coast. Uh, ended my career with Whole Foods after spending five years in director of sustainability and facilities role, uh, overseeing engineering, coordination, built environments, sustainability and operations, uh, facility management, environmental compliance.

So wearing too many hats at any one time. Yeah, lots of changes in the corporate world, obviously over the, the last several years between Covid and everything else going on. Took a long hard look at opportunities after major restructure at Whole Foods that wasn't gonna afford me the opportunity to continue doing what I was passionate [00:04:00] about, which is really the sustainability work, and decided I was gonna go off on my own and, uh, start an organization to, to help folks solve problem statements as it relates to the climate crisis that we're all facing into.

And, really do do it in a, I would say a way that, , is both collaborative. But also unique in a sense that focus on the pragmatic execution of the solutions themselves and, and not so much on just the strategy end of things. So, like to say we're, we're consultants, but, at the end of the day we're, we're solutions providers.

[00:04:30] James Dice: Totally. And you and I met at Verge in San Jose a couple weeks ago, uh, in the fall of 2022, for those of you that are listening to this way after the fact. So that's when this conversation is happening. But I'd love to talk about Whole Foods for a second. I'm a, I'm a major customer of Whole Foods

Uh, it's, it's one of those things where I've just always, always that's, it's been what I'd be willing to spend my money on, right? Uh, is healthy food. But I, that's not what I wanna ask you about. [00:05:00] Obviously, I want to ask you about the grocery vertical specifically. So this, this podcast has done a lot about smart buildings and about decarbonizing buildings, but we haven't zeroed in on grocery to my memory in any single episode so far.

So I thought that'd be a unique. Uh, piece that we could add with this episode, just real quick, you're not focused on it fully, but what are your, what, what are your like reflections on your time there? 12 years? What are the kind of the keys to sustainable grocery and refrigerated retail, I guess, as a more insider term?

And then what are the challenges with, with, you know, decarbonizing that particular space?

[00:05:41] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a really good question. And I like you also gravitate towards Whole Foods and, and did early in my career with them and before my career with them in large part because I really appreciate, you know, the natural food industry, the organic food industry, and putting healthy foods into our body obviously translates to healthy foods being grown in the environment.

[00:06:00] And, you know, we all know the kind of circular conversation that that happens there in a, in a very good sense. So, Uh, being said, I, like I said, I was attracted to it. Had no idea what I was getting myself into, quite honestly, as it related to the grocery space and the challenges that we were gonna face into over my 12 year career with Whole Foods and really the industry and in general.

I think, uh, to answer your question more specifically, you know, the keys to sustainability in the grocery vertical or really interesting, uh, the grocery is the second highest energy use intensity, commercial building space in, in the, well in the US for one, but more generally in the world. Grocery looks a little bit different in places like Europe and so forth.

So it varies in that, you know, number two to three, to four to five spot. But you know, second to, to really normally data centers, and it depends on how you're defining commercial building spaces, of course. So right off the bat, you're dealing with a very, very high EI building. On top of that, you're dealing with refrigeration and, and refrigerants, [00:07:00] which is a lesser known.

Issue that we're gonna, I know, dive into in a little bit more detail. And then you have the operational challenges that you need to face into too, whether it's waste input, throughputs specifically food waste in the grocery industry. So there's any number of focus areas that you could really start to hone your attention on.

Uh, what was most exciting about it for me is that, you know, it gave me a broad breadth of experience and knowledge in terms of what we focused on in regards to sustainability. And it, it really couldn't just be one issue, but had to constantly prioritize on kind of evolving scale where the greatest areas of opportunities were going to be.

And we start looking at, at the building level versus holistically across the organization. It, it was gonna differ and, and certainly the priorities from the customers differ as well, right? So there are a lot of vocal customers and in the grocery space, they have a lot of opinions and rightfully so, right?

It's where their food is coming from. So whether it relates to packaging or the comfort level of, of the building, et cetera. So, yeah, there's, there's just a lot to [00:08:00] unpack in the grocery space, but what was most interesting to me is that, uh, refrigerants and refrigeration specifically were, were more often than not overlooked and seen as kind of just a, another dispensable asset.

But anytime something went wrong with him, that was a whole nother

[00:08:15] James Dice: Hmm. . Yeah. Yeah, totally. So we're gonna get into the refrigeration side of things in a, in a minute. In that grocery vertical though, I'm wondering just a sense, you know, your sense for being in that industry. You know, cuz he, we talk about smart buildings. Smart buildings are really just a bunch of individual industries like grocery office, you know, multi-res, uh, universities, K through 12. In that vertical, you spend a lot of time there. What are the core, kind of core smart building technologies that are important and what, what's your sense of sort of, uh, the deployment or adoption of, of those technologies?

[00:08:55] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. Uh, well, first of all, I use this aga [00:09:00] example quite often, and the grocery space is, is challenged for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is they operate on razor thin margins and extremely small operating budgets. So, like a lot of industries, but I would say uniquely to, to grocery, they, they'll sweat assets for as long as they possibly can.

And adoption of technology is, is oftentimes challenged in large part because of that razor thin margin and, and operating budget that they have to deal with. So, you know, there's, there's grocers out there that have grown through acquisition and so forth, and you know, they, they've taken years to.

Consolidate under a single POS system. Nevermind, you know, being able to deploy smart building technologies. It relates to smart building technologies. I also argue that the grocery space probably has one of the highest amounts of disparate systems that they're utilizing out there. You know, starting with refrigeration controls, H V A C controls, lighting controls obviously the fire management systems, you name it.

I mean, there's just any, any number of systems and the list goes on. I'm just, I'm just rattling off a few [00:10:00] of them. But there's always been a desire in the, the grocery space to try to, I think, consolidate as much control as possible under one system. The challenge is, is that I think most in the grocery space have tried to do so under refrigeration specific control devices or EMS systems.

And that's challenging because. The refrigeration controls do a very, very good job at what they're specifically intended to do. But that's not necessarily the case for other, uh, other assets that they're meant to be controlling or monitoring within, within the building space. And I think we've seen that transition happen quite a bit here, and it's been an evolution over the last five to 10 years in large part with the introduction of digital lighting controls and, uh, and advanced H V A C controls.

There's just no way that these refrigeration controls are ever gonna keep up. So, that has led, I think, the industry to where most folks are in the smart building space, where they're pr looking for the proverbial single pane of glass, which I know you've talked quite a bit about on [00:11:00] the podcast and, and throughout the, uh, yeah.

Throughout your career. And you know, it's, it, uh, everyone's aiming for it. Does it exist? You know, questionable. I think at best, and you could speak to that far better than I can, but I think you're starting to see folks lean into. , at least em i s systems or monitoring systems that are giving them more visibility to their assets.

Now, whether they can control them or not is, is a big question mark, and I think we'll continue to be a big question mark in large part because the refrigeration controls, which are really the, the, uh, the brain of a grocery store are so critically important to the operations. And anytime something goes wrong, it pretty much puts a, a redwood tree sized roadblock in place and uh, and that's tough. And I think there's other elements too that need to be taken into account and, we'll, we can maybe get into a little bit more detail on this, but leak detection technologies, for example, are, have always been critical to the grocery space, but they've been somewhat unaffordable in some respects.

And, and quite honestly, they haven't evolved much over the last [00:12:00] several decades, so they don't really do, I think what people think they're intended to do, which is address leaks immediately. They find leaks, they notify people. . And sometimes someone fixes it. , I guess is the easiest way to put it.

Um, And then obviously food safety continuing to be an increasingly important element of operations and keeping people safe. You know, temperature monitoring and things along those lines have been critically important. And then, you know, the age of the pandemic, obviously air quality given you can't not go to the grocery store even though we're starting to see obviously delivery in last mile and so forth.

But there's still, you know, a fair amount of folks that aren't plugged into that and aren't gonna, you know, get food delivered to their house. They're gonna go out and get it and which means that, you know, you have to be indoors at these spaces. So there's so much popping up. And like I said I think the grocery industry is right for the picking in terms of opportunity to address how we deploy these type of smart building technologies.

But they've been slow to adopt in many instances.

[00:12:59] James Dice: [00:13:00] Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And the, the, the work I've done in grocery I, I, I helped a, a acquire or do some due diligence on a company they were thinking about acquiring in this space. And I was sort of blown away by, you know, doing all these different interviews with customers. And then talking about the same problems you see in other verticals with vendor lock-in.

Those vendors are, are different vendors, but the same sort of patterns are playing out, which I found totally fascinating. Specifically with refrigeration controls providers, you know, the, the incumbents or the, you know, the OEMs that have been around for decades. It's very similar to the building controls industry.

The, that I thought that was fascinating. Let's, let's jump to effect era. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about your, the, the firm and the services and the kind of what you guys are up to and what sort of sorts of clients, uh, you're serving.

[00:13:53] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, absolutely. like I said before, we, we really set out to do something different. Obviously having been on the [00:14:00] owner operator side for, for 12 years, uh, have worked with a number of consultants and engineering firms, organizations, et cetera, and, and have nothing but the, the highest respect for, for everyone that I've ever worked with.

And, and those that I haven't as well. I think everyone that's working in this space has something to offer. I think for us it was a matter of not becoming just another consultant that provided a strategy that unfortunately sits on an owner operator's shelf for several months, if not years, and collects dust, but really show up to the industry with some pragmatic solutions that we could begin to implement, ideally as quickly as possible, in large part, because we truly believe that addressing the climate crisis at, at scale and PACE is absolutely critical.

And that's built into our, our mission statement. That being said, I. , you know, spent a lot of time in the industry and finding partners and organizations that are doing really great work. So had the fortunate opportunity to co-found effect with two partners one of whom has, uh, both 37 years of experience in technology development.

So [00:15:00] that was really critically important to me, having that deep kind of technology background and expertise. Which is unfortunately not something you find very often these days cuz r and d seems to be getting slash left and right within a lot of corporate organizations at least. So he, uh, he spent about third of his career in aerospace engineering, about third in energy and about a third in and refrigeration in H V A C.

And that's how he and I got to know each other. Was sitting on the board of the North American Steam Board Refrigeration Council together. My other co-founder comes more outta the traditional epr consulting. Contracting space. And I say contracting cuz I think that's critically important. He also happens to be based in Europe, so it's a little bit of a different flavor over there than it is over here in the state.

So really um, we set out to I would say bridge oceans and try to bring technologies and solutions from across the globe to North America where we feel like, you know, give or take maybe 10 years behind. And I know that's somewhat cliche, but it's the truth in some respects. So, and an approach to the industry with not a prescriptive set of services so much to say [00:16:00] that, Hey, you know, what's your problem statement?

How can we help? And we had no idea what to expect in terms of how people were going to, to take that. More often than not organizations are, are looking for you to tell them, you know, here are your services, how, you know, what, how can you use them? Instead, we were kind of going to people and saying, you know, here is our experience.

Here's our expertise. Here's the, the breadth of the knowledge of the team that we've built. And we're now a team of 13. And continuing to grow mostly with technical background. But we've just hired our first policy expert and we're extremely excited about her joining the team. So really trying to, I would say, address the climate crisis in a, like I said, in a pragmatic way with a breadth of experience that comes from multiple different backgrounds.

And, uh, and that's kind of come into focus in three ways. So we're doing technology development and, uh, we're helping folks commercialize, commercialize, excuse me, technologies that we believe are going to be important part of the solution set for the climate crisis. And that's taking, shaping a number of different ways.

Everything from energy [00:17:00] to smart buildings through to refrigeration and H V A C, mostly in the advanced system side of things, which we'll dive into in a little bit more detail. Mm-hmm. , we're agnostic, so we don't sell any technologies. And, you know, we really give third party reviews similar to what you've been doing for some time in terms of what's the best.

But we'll work with anyone who needs a helping hand in this, in this particular space. The other piece is around more of the traditional consulting side of things, so working on GD reduction efforts and working with I would say we thought we were gonna be working with the tail of the dog, but we're also working with the dog.

And what I mean by that is, you know, we, we do believe all of the other companies that aren't the, you know, fortune 500 s that have aggressive climate commitments need to come along on those journey as well. So we're working with all of the above. But we've had the fortune opportunity to also work with some of the big players, which is great because you learn a lot from what they've.

started to commit to, and I've already started down the journey of accomplishing, uh, which is critically important to be able to take those lessons learned and apply them to the smaller organizations that may just be starting out on their journey. [00:18:00] But again, with a very pragmatic focus on the execution of, of those actual strategies.

And then lastly, as the services side of things, offering our technical expertise for things like commissioning oversight and helping with advanced H V A C R system deployment I e CO2 systems for example. And that kind of comes full circle with some of the technology development work we're doing and some of the consulting work we're doing.

So we're excited to be kicking off a project with Oak Ridge National Lab to develop a CO2 chiller heat pump. And that really stemmed from us seeing the demand from the consulting side there being lack of solution to get closer to zero. And then saying, okay, I think we can, we can work on this because we have the service expertise and we have the technology development expertise.

And then going out and creating a collaborative consortium of team members, including Oak Ridge National Lab to start working on an important and critical solution set that doesn't currently exist in North America. So that's a little bit, little bit about us. We're excited about our work and, and it's really excited about all the partnerships [00:19:00] and collaboration that we've been able to, to work on in the short two years that we've been around, and hopefully many more to come.

[00:19:05] James Dice: Yeah, sounds exciting. And that's super impressive, you know, having come from a consulting background, super impressive to grow to 13 people in two years. That's awesome. With that context setting, uh, you know, kind of the, the background you're coming from and the expertise you're coming from, let's dive into our, our main sort of topic for this episode, which is sustainable refrigerants.

And I'd hate to start with context setting again, but if you could , we're going a little bit level deeper here into context setting, but, but w maybe let's just start with why sustainable refrigerants are important.

[00:19:38] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's,

[00:19:39] James Dice: let, let me just set a little bit more context because I think if you're coming into this in from listening to all of our past episodes, you might think, Hey, we have to electrify everything to solve climate change and we have to convert everything to heat pumps.

If anything, refrigeration is, is what we need, right? Uh, we, we need more refrigeration, right? To make heat pumps [00:20:00] happen. And so what I'd like to do with this conversation is sort of widen people's gaze a little bit and sort of get into, okay, yes, but this type of rich refrigeration. So with that, would love to hear you sort of set the stage.

[00:20:12] Tristam Coffin: yeah. No, that's great. And I think there's two, there's two contextual pieces that we can dive into. It's, it's the history, right, which I think is critically important to outline. And it's also to the point that you were just making you know, why refrigerants are important today and why they're gonna become even more important.

And I, and I think with that being. that piece is, is somewhat simple and I'll, I'll start with a, with a, I guess a little bit of an anecdote, but you can electrify your way outta natural gas usage, right? You can move to renewable energy or 24 7 carbon free energy to get, you know, get yourself out of the, the scope two emissions challenge that you're, you're facing into.

And you know, you can electrify your fleets effectively, like electrification and move to 24 7. Carbon free energy will, will get you generally your organization generally close. There's one outstanding item [00:21:00] that is not gonna be something that you can just easily kind of flip the switch on, so to say.

And that happens to be refrigerants. And, and because of that, and also because of what you just alluded to as a result of the increase of, of heat pump technologies that utilize refrigerants that are going to be the main solution for electrifying heating, specifically for both domestic hot water and space heating is going to increase the amount of refrigerants that are gonna be utilized.

That's one piece. We'll come back, we'll come back to that. The, his, the history piece I think is really interesting. We've kind of been going through this evolution over the last several decades of you know, starting with what quote unquote natural refrigerant, which I know we're gonna talk a little bit more about, I hope.

As part of the solution set which were the original refrigerants, we moved to synthetic refrigerants, uh, specifically CFCs that were introduced into the, uh, into the space several, several decades ago. And those were the original synthetics. We realized over time that they were causing a hole in the [00:22:00] ozone layer effectively.

So the Montreal Protocol comes into place and that Montreal Protocol which was a, a global treaty, said we need to address these, these CFCs and h CFCs effectively which were the replacements for, for the CFCs. So we started to address the, the. call it synthetic refrigerant issues that were focused on what they call ozone depletion potential or ods, which is ozone depleting substances. And you fast forward and today to where we're at today, we've, we've effectively started to phase out all of those refrigerants. They're still in use, so they're not gone still very much in use, including the earlier CFCs, but H CFCs in particular to HFCs, which are the line share of what's being deployed out there today and is already in in operation.

And many of the, the refrigeration H V A C and other heat pump type technologies that exist out there. Uh, and the reason there's such a challenge and such an issue is because they have an extremely high global warming potential. So this is the, the [00:23:00] core of what you were asking in your question is if you have carbon dioxide that has a global warming potential or GWP of one.

Uh, your common HFC refrigerants are gonna have a global warming potential of anywhere between 2000 and 4,000. So, which means that their impacts on global warming is 4,000 times or 2000 times, depending on the type of refrigerant, more potent than carbon dioxide, which is the common conversation that we're, we're using as the baseline, right?

It's the CO2 equivalency that we have to concern ourselves with. And it's why methane, for example, is, is getting a lot of tension right now too, because these are what, not only are they that much more potent but their lifespan is also different. So you probably heard the term short-lived climate pollutants, right?

Their impact is very, very potent and, and very, very impactful in, in a shorter period.

[00:23:49] James Dice: and, and basically I, I hate that I, I don't know if I have to point this out to people, but I feel like I should. So when I moved into my house that I currently live in, [00:24:00] turned on the air conditioner for the first time, didn't work, blowing out hot Air

Tech comes out and he's like, you're supposed to have seven pounds of refrigerant and you only have two and a.

And I was like, okay, cool. Where'd the other five and a half go? . And, and that's the main way that this happens, right? Is they It's the gas and it leaks. As soon as you have a hole, it leaks out. Right? Is that, that's the, the main way that these emissions happen.

[00:24:24] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's, it's a really good question. So the, there's, you have to look at the life cycle of it, but generally speaking yes. The, the operational element of the system that you're deploying, whether it's your home AC unit, whether it's your home refrigerator, whether it's a, a grocery refrigerator, whether it's, you know, commercial building.

that's, uh, operating a chiller or a package rooftop unit during the operation of those systems, the gas is gonna leak it. It's just, there's no way around it. Whether it's because a mechanic does something

incorrectly, whether it's because it's a man manufacturing default, or just because lightning strikes.

You know, the, the [00:25:00] reality is, is that these gases are somehow throughout the operation, more likely than not going to find their way into the atmosphere. But there's also the beginning of life, right? So when you're charging a system either at the factory or in the field, when I say charging, it means effectively putting the gas into the operating system or the pre-op operating system.

And then there's the end of life, and I think the end of life. And there's some statistics out there that say 90% of refrigerant emissions occur at end of life. Uh, and that 90% number is, is obviously not industry specific. It's, it's a global stat that exists out there. And largely because. . What happens when people rip things out?

What happens when a building is demolished, right? If not properly addressed? Demolition comes in, uh, they start removing everything, you know, and even if they're doing it systematically, more often than not, if they're not trained to properly recover the refrigerant gas within these systems it's gonna leak.

And, you know, that's less common in the commercial and industrial space. But think about you [00:26:00] as a, as a homeowner, right? If you didn't have the background that you do, right? If, if you're, let's say for instance, you were like, oh, I, you moved into your house and you just needed a new AC unit. Maybe you rip, maybe you decide you're gonna rip the old one out.

And there's a lot of people that are doing it themselves out there. They rip it out, throw their AC unit to the curb, and hope for the best, but can almost guarantee that, you know, even, even though there are regulations out there and some places in the world, not all to address that, that gas is just ending up in, in the atmosphere almost hands down.

So it's , yeah. It's an issue that we need to address throughout the life cycle. And there's a recent report issued by the N nrdc, I G S D and EIA focused on lifecycle refrigerant management. And, you know, their, by their estimations, it's a 90 billion ton opportunity by the end of the century to address.

And we'll, we'll get into the details of those numbers and so forth here, but it's critically important to focus on [00:27:00] reducing the leaks wherever we possibly can. But and really honestly, getting beyond leakage, which is another topic I'd love to unpack with you.

[00:27:07] James Dice: Cool. All right. So basically, if I can repeat all that back to you refrigerants are extremely potent. They should be part of organizations scope one reporting, potentially even scope three maybe if they are getting rid of them afterwards.

And then as we electrify the planet, as we electrify buildings, they're only becoming more and more important. Right. That, that's the general context. Another piece of context that I was wondering about, I read about the US AIM Act. Can you talk about what that means? Is that relevant

[00:27:38] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. So effectively the Montreal protocol was the, the global treaty that started to address, call it ozone depletion or depleting substances, excuse me, our ODP refrigerants. Uh, fast forward, the Kali Amendment came out, I'll get my math wrong here, but after the Montreal Protocol, about 15, 18 years, I don't know, a couple [00:28:00] decades.

later in the whole idea behind the Canali amendment to the Montreal protocol was to begin to address the HFCs. So hydrofluoric carbons, which are the high GWP refrigerants, they don't have the ozone depletion potential, but they do have that high gwp.

So that the canali amendment to the Montreal protocol was the, OR is the, excuse me.

Global treaty that addresses it. The US AIM Act is effectively aligning the US regulation to, with the Kali amendment, to address HFC refrigerants. So like there was a phase down with the ozone depleting substances. There is now a phase down on the high global warming, potential refrigerants, specifically HFCs.

So those HFCs are now already in the midst of the phase down. There was a slight drop in terms of allocate allocation. In 20 22, 20 23. And there will be a much larger drop in 2024. And then so on throughout the, the next, uh, the next decade and [00:29:00] a half or so whereby HFC refrigerants will eventually be, be phased out.

We've seen similar regulations in, in Europe, uh, under the f gas regulation. And it's a, it's a very good thing. The challenge is, is you know, what next, effectively, and I, and that's a conversation that we will, we'll come onto here in just a moment, but my argument is that we need to think beyond the next interim solution and we need to be thinking further out to the final solution.

And when I say further out that solution needs to exist today, and in some instances it does. In other instances it doesn't. But we need to be thinking about it and we need to be working on it.

[00:29:34] James Dice: Totally. Yeah, we'll get to that. I, I hope, let's start though with, if I'm looking at this from a building under standpoint, and because we've done, I think we've done, what did I say, 14 different podcasts on decarbonization this year in 2022 alone, we did even more in 2021. So we we're on this march. Right.

And I haven't heard, we've had several building owners on the, on the podcast. You know, I'm not gonna call 'em [00:30:00] out because I'm, then, I'm gonna say that they're not thinking about this. But I haven't heard anyone say, you know, refrigerants are part of our Scope one inventory today, and they're 10% of the, you know, whatever.

Right. And I haven't heard anyone say, we're gonna get rid of scope one by fixing, you know, our heating and electrifying it, but also fixing refrigerant, managing refrigerant. I haven't heard anybody say that one time. So

[00:30:23] Tristam Coffin: that makes me sad. You know that James, right?

[00:30:26] James Dice: Well, you, you're, you're part of the solution here, but, so how many companies are actually doing that and including it in their inventory today?

Because I, I feel like most are just saying, okay, what's my natural gas or, you know, direct consumption from my utility bills.

[00:30:42] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Uh, it's, it's a great question and, and unfortunately, you know, most folk you're not alone in that regard. And most folks that you've spoken with, and most folks in the industry are, you know, consider this a niche area. I was having a conversation with, uh, someone that hosts a, a very large NetZero event, uh, annually.

And [00:31:00] you know, I ha just said, you know, it'd be great to highlight refrigerants as, as part of that. And, you know, they just honestly said to me, you know, it feels like a very niche, niche issue. And I said, yeah, that's part of the problem is everyone thinks that a, it's a niche, niche issue, excuse me, but it isn't a niche issue.

We're dealing with refrigerants in almost every building space out there. I think the challenge is, is. , the supermarket industry, for example, has been focusing on it for many years because it is a very concentrated amount of refrigerant gas in these refrigeration systems. However, if you go to any large commercial building space where you know, they're just cooling and heating the, the space alone, you know, there's still likely upwards to thousands, if not several hundred pounds of refrigerant within, within these buildings.

And high gwp refrigerants as we were talking about before. So it's an issue that everyone's facing into. And I think the other big thing there is, is that it is, it's growing not only for the fact [00:32:00] that the solutions that we're deploying for things like electrification and decarbonization are including it, but it's gonna grow because it's gonna become the last standing scope one emission that you have to deal with.

And like you said, also scope three arguably, depending on who's managing it for you, et cetera. But generally speaking, focusing on the scope one aspect of refrigerants. So, but I think the challenge and why we don't hear about it as often as we should is because, you know, it, it's just, it's not as tangible, right?

I think it's, it's harder to measure. There's a lot of human root and error in terms of tracking it. Regulation has been very focused on, as I mentioned, ozone depletion substances for some time now, and, and honestly only tracking those systems with 50 pounds of refrigerant and above. And as we were talking about before, whereas I was just alluding to those, you know, especially in a, in a space where package rooftop [00:33:00] units are dominating cooling in North America, specifically in the us you know, package rooftop units are normally like around the 50 pound limit, but.

They're not always approaching it. So as we've continued to create more distributed cooling systems you know, there hasn't been as much attention on those distributed systems because compliance hasn't focused on them. So that is the other big issue that we're facing into is there is not nearly as much data out there as necessary to determine what the magnitude of this issue is.

A lot of it has been modeled, it's not even actually been measured. So, and that's in large part because the focus in the US and a lot, a lot of the other parts of the world where there is regulation has been on systems with 50 pounds or somewhere close to that range of ozone, ozone, depleting substances versus all of your systems that contain refrigerants with any type of refrigerant in it.

And with that being said, we have very, very, like I said, little empirical data to say, here's the order of magnitude that we're [00:34:00] facing into. So not we have an idea and we can. You know, model the numbers and so forth. And that's where some of the statistics that I've thrown out earlier and will continue to, to rattle off as we continue talking come from.

But I'd argue that the challenge is even bigger than we expect.

[00:34:14] James Dice: Mm-hmm. Fascinating. Yeah. So if I think about my home system, I think it's three tons. It's got seven pounds. So it could have, you know, yeah. So 50, 50 pounds would be, you know, still a pretty small unit.

Yeah. Okay. I think it's a good time to just sort of introduce, you know, low or sustainable refrigerants themselves.

So you mentioned, I think we've talked about low gwp refrigerants, low ghd refrigerants, natural refrigerants, sustainable refrigerants. Can you kind of just sort of define like what are these different types of refrigerants?

[00:34:53] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, happy, happy to. So there's two, I call it schools of [00:35:00] thought. There's a synthetic refrigerant, uh, and then there's natural refrigerants. And natural refrigerants are somewhat misleading, I would say. Just by their terminology alone, say natural refrigerants you know, it's not that they're necessarily, you know, pulled outta the air and you can just use them.

So, for example, co2, it's not coming from. Carbon capture, anything along those lines. It's nor normally the byproduct of, you know, specific industries. That's where that, that CO2 is coming from. So some folks are beginning to use the term nature identical. In other words, you know, they appear on the periodic table.

So they're naturally occurring but they're not necessarily quote unquote natural refrigerants. And I think that statement becomes more matter of fact when you start talking about hydrocarbons as, as a refrigerant, right? So things like propane or R two 90 is the, is the the ashray number provided to, uh, to refrigerant grade propane.

And people like, wait a second, isn't propane part of the, part of the problem?

Isn't carbon dioxide part of the problem? And the reality is, is yes, they are part of the [00:36:00] problem, but when used as refrigerant, they have a GWP of anywhere between one three. And as we talked about before, the gwp of most synthetic refrigerants that on the, are on the market today or.

Well above you know, the thousand mark as we, as we discussed previously and even the interim solutions that are coming to market. And this is an important note, so there's a lot of terms floating around out there. So HFOs are the new, call it brand of, well not brand, they're the new synthetic um, refrigerants that are, that are coming to market.

And they already are, are in market in, in some respects. The f in there is the important piece. They're fluorinated gases effectively. And yes, the new fluorinated gases are having lower gwp. In most cases they're, they're moderate. So R 32 for example, which we believe is gonna be an important part of the solution set.

But it still has a gwp of above, well above 600, I think it's six 50. Six 50 or approximately six 50. I'm remembering [00:37:00] it off the top of my head. But that's also using a hundred year value which is something we can get into here in just a minute. So a hundred year GWP value is measuring the impact of that gas over a hundred years.

But remember, these are short lift climate pollutants. So if you use a 20 year value, and I think, if I remember correctly, the average life of most synthetic refrigerants is about 21 years, if I'm not mistaken. So the 20 year value is actually more representative of the impact of these gases in the atmosphere and on, on the climate.

That being said the values of those particular gases actually increase. So our 32 actually goes above I think it, it ends up being like 800 or 900, or even above a thousand, if I'm not mistaken. So that plays a really interesting part in the conversation because regulation is saying we need to get to seven 50 at least as an interim step and a lot of.

the OEMs, chemical manufacturers, et cetera, are aiming for that and they're creating these interim solutions. When I say interim, I argue they're interim because if the end goal [00:38:00] is as close to zero as possible, there's no way that these aren't interim solutions. So therefore we're running into this kind of next phase of the challenge as we went from ozone depleting substances to high gwp you know, HFCs to now we're looking at HFOs, which are interim solution, some of which are also flammable.

So you've probably heard folks refer to, or maybe you've heard, or some of your audiences heard, folks refer to them as a two Ls. So the A two Ls are classification of the refrigerant. That means that they're slightly flammable. A three s, for example are highly flammable. So for example, R two 90 s and a three refrigerant, highly flammable refrigerant, a two Ls, slightly flammable refrigerants.

Those are coming, those are coming to market. And a lot of folks are looking at the ATLs, which are most cases HFOs as the solution. And it's not that they're not gonna be a part of the solution, but again, as I mentioned before, my mind, we need to leapfrog the next interim step and we really [00:39:00] need to go as close as zero as possible.

And the reality is, is natural refrigerants exist today? They're being deployed in a number of different solutions and applications. Uh, do they come with their challenges? Absolutely. I just mentioned R two 90, for example, is, is highly flammable, so additional safety measures and it's not gonna be utilized.

And, uh, in every application, especially in, in high charge amounts, CO2 has very high operating pressures. But it is a very manageable and a very efficient, uh, and very effective refrigerant with the gdpp of one. And. it is becoming more common and more and more applications. So refrigeration, for example, there is no reason why commercial refrigeration, in my opinion, should be using anything other than CO2 at this point in time.

Why? Because it's gonna get you as close to zero as possible. And the supplemental technologies that have come into play better control algorithms, liquid and gas, ejectors, automatic gas cooling we, the list goes on. And there's other technologies like [00:40:00] pressure exchange devices, et cetera that we've had the fortunate opportunity to, to work on that are going to make CO2 even more effective in terms of its deployment within, within these different applications. Is that true for package rooftop units? No. And there, and there lies the challenge that we're, we're heading into. The US unfortunately has a, an addiction to low cost, very efficient package rooftop units for cooling. normally commercial buildings and really any buildings for that matter, those high pressure systems do not have an alternative right now.

In other words, a lot of the, the gases, the low G B P synthetic gases that are coming to market are operate and low pressure environments. So a lot of the synthetics that have a GWP between one and three will work great in low to medium pressure chillers, but they're not gonna work well in these high pressure package rooftop units, for example.

And the same is true for the naturals. So there's kind of, there's like I said, two different conversations that [00:41:00] we're, we're coming onto here. One is solutions exist and we need to be deploying 'em in the applications today where they exist. And I would argue natural refrigerants are a very good solution.

Are they the sole answer? No. I would never argue that they're the sole answer, but they definitely need to be a, a bigger part of the solution today. The other is we need to face into the technical challenges that we're facing to address the other applications, and it may require a paradigm shift. We may just have to say, you know what?

If package rooftop units are not gonna get to a place where they need to get to because of the technol technology issues that we're facing into, then we may have to look to go back to more of centralized system architectures so that we can deploy better solutions that are coming to market at the scale and PACE, we need them to.

[00:41:47] James Dice: Got it. Wow. Yeah, that's such a good, great overview.

[00:41:57] James Dice: Now I know many of you enjoy the [00:42:00] virtual smart buildings exchange conference in August. The team behind that conference is the smart building center education program. Uh, 5 0 1 C3 non-profit organization that believes a smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment, particularly as they relate to billing, operations and management will enable a cleaner, healthier, and more productive future. The smart building center seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment and pursues its objective through the following.

Pillars of activity first. They deliver a training programs to educate the building workforce, the future second, they enable industry leading demonstration projects, and finally they connect the industry through hosting and participating in events like the smart buildings exchange conference. So check out their body of work on the essential role of smarter buildings into clean energy transition at the link in the show notes. And when you get in touch, tell them nexus labs center.

[00:42:56] James Dice: So my next question is around, I want to get to the solutions. I wanna make sure we have [00:43:00] time for, for kind of how you guys help your clients sort of work through this. Right. . But when I was watching you at Verge, you, you sat on a great panel, really great panelists.

You were, you were awesome on it. Some questions came from the audience around challenges to natural refrigerants, challenges to low DWP refrigerants coming from the HVAC oem, sorry, the manufacturers of package rooftop units, chillers, et cetera, heat pumps. Right. Can you just kind of summarize what's going on there?

Because what, what I found interesting was these are the same manufacturers that are touting their systems as energy saving and decarbonizing and green. And at the same time, it felt a little bit like what was happening is they're delaying the progress that's happening from this, you know, on this transition to more sustainable refrigerants.

[00:43:56] Tristam Coffin: Look it, I'll, I'll start by saying I don't, I don't think any, [00:44:00] anyone out there, including even the chemical manufacturers that are working on these synthetic refrigerants have any sort of ill intent specifically, right? Like they're focused on operating their business and, and the way that they need to operate their business to remain in compliance and try to provide what they believe is the necessary next generation of solutions.

It's the same thing that we were kind of just talking about, is there's not enough recognition of the actual issue that we're facing into. And that's why education and conversations like these are critically important. So starting there is, you know, the OEMs specifically, they're manufacturing, the majority of the H V A C equipment that's being deployed in the US today are focused on energy efficiency because that's what they've been told they need to focus on.

We as an industry collectively need to shift the conversation from specifically focusing on energy efficiency to starting to look at. Yeah, well, one of the industry terms is total equivalent warming impact, but I would just call it total life cycle carbon impact of [00:45:00] not only the, the equipment in its operations from an energy perspective, but the direct emissions associated with the refrigerants, of course.

And then if you really want to get into it, call it the embodied carbon of the materials that are being used to, to obviously create these, these systems that is hard to swallow , right? Especially when you're not being told to do that, and when the market is not moving you in that direction. There's also the, the technology challenge that I just mentioned, right?

Like today, the OEMs do not necessarily see a clear line of sight to be able to produce what they're producing in terms of a similar application utilizing a better refrigerant, let's put it that way. Um, And that is a true issue that that needs to be addressed, and that's why I'm saying, Can we work on it?

Can we put more r and d dollars into finding a high pressure gas that can work in a package rooftop unit that comes closer to a GWP of, of one or even [00:46:00] zero for that matter? Yes, I believe we can, and I believe there are companies globally including, including ours, that are thinking about that and are starting to work on it.

But it is, it is gonna have its technology challenges and we won't get into the details of that today. And quite honestly, I, you know, I I'm not even as versed, as well versed on it as I probably could be. There are plenty of folks out there that are in the r d labs trying to figure out what the next best solution is, and I'm certainly not one of them.

We're working with many of them, but so I don't wanna, I don't wanna speak too much out of turn here, but there is a technology challenge and we can't, we can't ignore it. That being said is there are solutions that can be deployed and it will require paradigm shift and that paradigm shift does.

Acquire a change in thinking about how the architectures are utilized. And what I mean by that is I think the grocery industry specifically is really facing into an interesting opportunity whereby you could start to utilize the refrigeration system more effectively, not just from a heat reclaimed perspective [00:47:00] to use the waste heat off the refrigeration systems for heating and cooling purposes, but start to leverage the natural refrigeration systems of which CO2 is a hugely effective gas, especially from a waste heat perspective, to start to utilize that for the heating and cooling of the building space as well.

And, you know, I come, come obviously having spent a lot of time in the, the grocery industry, but that similar application can be deployed in chiller systems and other systems for or other like systems, excuse me, across other building sectors and, and so forth. But again, it, it really is gonna require a shift in.

Everyone's attitude towards how we approach heating and cooling and building spaces. And the other, I think, important piece there is, is because refrigerants aren't being tracked, and again, that order of magnitude in terms of what their impact is gonna be, and the lack of awareness is, there's just no, so there's no compliance pressure on the OEM space to start to think about this.

Even though there's a phase down coming into effect, as we talked about under the AM act, but they already [00:48:00] have their interim solution. So most of them are gonna move to these moderate GWP refrigerants. The, the roadmap for all the OEMs right now is to get below, effectively seven 50 in terms of gwp, but seven 50, still a very high number, right?

As compared to one or zero. And then because of the lack of awareness, the market's not pushing them either, right? Because most climate initiatives at organizations and at most of the state level or even globally, are not saying, Hey, you need to address refrigerants. As much as you are addressing energy efficiency.

And that those are kind of the three big three or four big challenges that we're, uh, we're up against. And, and yeah. And that's why the awareness conversation is critically important. And I think you heard me mention Reef, which is a forum that we kicked off actually at Verge, called the Refrigerant Emissions Elimination Forum.

And the whole idea there was to really kick this conversation into gear and start to raise an awareness amongst a, you know, cross [00:49:00] stakeholder group of owners, of operators of subject matter experts. Uh, you know, eventually moving into the conversation with the OEMs, with the manufacturers of the components, start to say, Hey, this is an issue.

We are paying attention to it. And if we don't start to address it now, there is no way we're gonna hit our climate objectives, you know, in the next decade and beyond. Because this, this technology issue is not gonna be solved overnight, is the big, is the big deal. And it may not be solved in within the decade.

But if, certainly if we don't start now, it's definitely not gonna be solved within a decade.

[00:49:32] James Dice: Totally, totally. Let's jump into solutions. And maybe just starting a little bit more high level and maybe we can dive in if it makes sense. But I think about the whole marketplace as a whole bunch of existing buildings and the new buildings coming online that are less in quantity, but still important, right? So can you talk about those two categories of buildings? Where might an asset owner or a developer start to think about this and what are the [00:50:00] solutions they can sort of implement, uh, for getting, getting a hang, a wrangle on these, these, these emissions?

[00:50:05] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's an awesome question and it's gonna sound super cliche and I'm sure people have said it a million times before, but you can't manage what you

don't,

Maddie.

[00:50:14] James Dice: measure

[00:50:15] Tristam Coffin: Yep. And yeah, see you took the words right outta my mouth. It it, but it's true. It's really true. And in this case it's, it's very true.

And. The challenge that I alluded to earlier with refrigerants is that they're a lot harder to measure than natural gas or electricity use because they're not running through a meter, let's put it that way. So, you know, dive a little bit into the weeds without going into too much detail, cuz I know we, we wanna focus on the solutions is, you know, tracking refrigerant gases require someone going out.

And first off, understanding what was in the system to begin with. Secondly how much gas they're putting into the system if there is a leak. And then following that throughout the life cycle of that piece of equipment, right? So even if you're doing it perfectly [00:51:00] from day one to, you know, the, the last day of operation recovery and, and ideally destruction of that refrigerant gas, you've probably still missed a portion.

You know, I don't know what the percentage may be, but the reality is, is it's not happening perfectly. It's happening less than perfectly, but the starting point is, Taking an inventory, getting out there, understanding every asset that has a single drop refrigerant in it, arguably because every drop refrigerant in my mind is important.

And I think that's the message that we want to get out there, creating that inventory first and foremost. And then starting to track the service events associated with those assets. So understanding when gas exits the system, when gas is put back in the system calculate and therefore calculating your leak rates associated with each of those individual assets.

And again, not the bare minimum, so not the 50 pound and above units with ozone depleting substances in [00:52:00] them, but every unit with any drop of refrigerant in it. And again, that's a tremendous undertaking in large part because there are thousands of assets in any given, you know, commercial building, let's put it that way.

, you know, everything from under counter refrigerators to, you know, split units that are cooling computer rooms to all 30 roof package rooftop units up there and, you know, and, and maybe a chiller or, you know, rack based system that's cooling some sort of pharmaceuticals or groceries or whatever the case may be.

The, the list goes on and on and on. So it's not an easy undertaking. And, and then measuring that, that gas in the first place, you know, there's three methodologies to go about measuring it. One is nameplate which you hope for the best that you can actually take the manufactured charge off the nameplate if it's not, you know, worn out, weathered out, whatever the case may be.

The other is calculation. So you effectively measure the piping or estimate the measurement of the piping and the components within the system. And then go through a calculation methodology to determine how [00:53:00] much gas may be in the system. That's also fairly challenged. The best, but the most intensive is actually taking the gas out, measuring it, weighing it, excuse me, and putting it back in.

anytime you open up a system, you also turn it into a potential leap potential event. So there's all these challenges. All that being said is starting point, is beginning to create an inventory measuring the amount of gas or what we like to refer to as the entrained carbon of the, of the systems, and then the total assets altogether and combined to understand what your buildings and train carbon looks like.

[00:53:31] James Dice: Okay. Okay.

[00:53:33] Tristam Coffin: then you gotta keep tracking it going forward. So it's not like you just, you're, you're done, right? , you, you give up. But from there it's about starting to understand how you can avoid gases, the refrigerant gases, excuse me, from exiting those systems throughout the remainder of their life cycle, uh, as well as that end of end of life.

And we can come on to the end of life solutions here in just a moment. But then it's also thinking about how you can start to look to [00:54:00] alternatives. So for those of you who haven't read Project Drawdown, for any number of reasons. Go read it. Go look it up. In 2017, they published the first report and the number one climate mitigation solution was refrigerants.

And I think the joke was, who's gonna write that press release? Right? For the very reason that we've talked about, people's eyes tend to glaze over when it comes to talking about refrigerants. Uh, they, they've since published a number of other reports. They've actually split out refrigerants into two categories or two solutions cuz it's focused on solutions.

Number one is refrigerant management. Number two is alternative refrigerants. You add them two together, I think they're still in the number one or number two spot in terms of climate mitigation opportunities. But so we're talking about refrigerant management is one. But then once you understand how you manage your refrigerants, you then need to understand how you start to move to alternatives.

So starting to take out those high impact refrigerants or high GWP refrigerants, and in many cases where ozone depletion substances are still in, uh, in employment. [00:55:00] take those out, which are all, which as I may have not mentioned previously, they also have a very high gwp. So it's not like they just have ozone depletion potential.

They also actually have a high GWP as well. So removing those from the equation is critically important. And moving to alternatives. But it's also not as simple as that because you have to look at it strategically in large part, because if an interim solution isn't gonna get you the whole way and you're gonna put a 20 to 30 year asset into a building with a moderate GWP refrigerant, you may actually wanna wait.

So it may be this kind of hurry up and wait scenario. So it's really a matter of kind of measuring different variables and impacts that are associated with the overall building use asset, use life cycle, you know, leases, every, everything that, you know, you talk about on here quite frequently and the different variables and factors that play into decision making.

When, when you start to think about refrigerants and how you're gonna potentially. Move to those alternative solutions. But yeah, number [00:56:00] one, refrigerant management, number two, alternative refrigerants. Sounds really simple, but there's a lot more to it.

[00:56:04] James Dice: Absolutely. Before you move on to end of life, I wanted to ask you around finding leaks. So are, is there technology out there that allows these systems to be monitored? So the, the analogy I would use is when we have, you know, data coming off an HVAC system, we might look for chilled water leaking, or we might look for hot water leaking, or we might look for different ways in which that system is wasting energy.

But there's not necessarily like a sensor that's producing refrigerant leaks, right? There's pressure sensors sometimes, but not, those aren't necessarily always pulled into analytics software. They're not necessarily pulled into a building automation system. So what's sort of the state of the technology for, for using analytics to find these leaks?

[00:56:49] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. It's a fantastic question, and I think there are. There are a number of companies out there, including ours, that are thinking about this and and how we, how we move from effectively what we call a [00:57:00] diagnostic to a prognostic. And maybe not all the companies that I just referred to are thinking about that, but it's something that I think the industry needs to start thinking about.

And something that we've been working on and thinking about ourselves. Reality today is depending on the system application so whether it's a packaged RT or a, you know, refrigeration system, the level of sophistication in terms of the controls and what's being monitored, measured and controlled is, is gonna be very different.

Right. And the, you know, and a lot of that depends on obviously the age of, of the system as well. There are other subsystems, ie. Leak detection or what they call automatically leak detection systems that are, that are out there. Also, I think there's a very large misunderstanding, and I'll address both the points here in just a minute.

There's a large misunderstanding on. what automatic leak detection actually does. Automatic leak detection is effectively, I mean in the simplest of terms and there's different types of technologies, but in the simplest format, they are [00:58:00] identifying leaks and sending out a notification that a leak has been sentenced and, and there's different trigger rates, right, in terms of parts per million that they're sensing.

Remember that in almost all instances where refrigerants are being utilized, there's air movement , right? So whether it's an H V A C system or refrigeration system, there's a lot of air moving around, which means that even the best of these systems being deployed more often than not, aren't gonna sense the leak to the extent that they need to.

And even if they are able to, again, you're only identifying that there was a leak, not that you're actually like capturing it and fixing it or for that matter, measuring the amount of gas that's left the system. So it's not like you are, I think, just getting at like a meter or anything along those lines that's telling you.

How much gas is actually exited the operating refrigeration cycle. So now there are a number of technologies that are starting to be deployed to use algorithms based on deployed technologies, sensors, et cetera, that are meaning to identify [00:59:00] how, you know, can over a period of time start to estimate how much gas is in the system.

And also start to look at degradation and performance, for example, where whereby you can begin to identify when a leak may occur. And that's what I was getting to in terms of starting to look at prognostics ver versus diagnostics, is if you can start to build off of the diagnostic technologies that exist out there today, I think we can get to a point where we can ideally, and it depends on the system and application, but I think in my mind there is a technology solution that we can get to, or technology solutions, excuse me, that we can get to whereby we can use.

the available solutions out there today and build off of them to hopefully identify leaks or at least degradation or anomalies within these operating systems before a catastrophic or even less than catastrophic event occurs whereby refrigerant gas may exit the system. we're [01:00:00] not there yet. I'm hoping we're getting there soon.

[01:00:02] James Dice: I was gonna say, this is an area where I feel like the designers of automation systems can do a better job if they knew that what we were gonna do with this data, right? So a lot of times the data that we would need to do the diagnostic that you just said is in a chiller, or it is in a rooftop unit, but we're not actually pulling that data out into a place where it can be used.

It's just being used in the local controller. It's being used by the technician that's going to plug their laptop into that thing. But it's not actually able to be used in the fault detection diagnostics application most of the time. And so it's more about specifying, Hey, here's the exact data we want out of this machine.

And I feel like we can do a better job there.

[01:00:45] Tristam Coffin: Oh, 100% by our estimations. If you did it at the factory and you did it upfront, it would probably be, you know, a matter of adding in a couple hundred dollars worth of additional sensors and data points that you need to collect in order to start to get to a point where we were just [01:01:00] discussing.

[01:01:00] James Dice: totally. How about end of life then? Maybe, maybe real quick, cuz most of the people that are listening to this are not gonna care about this, but what happens after it leaves the.

[01:01:10] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Well, so end of life, if you are actually recovering the refrigerants, which is the ideal ideal scenario is, you know, if, if you, uh, if you are able to properly address refrigerants at end of life, you would recover. And there's a few different options. There's reclaiming them which effectively means that you're, you're cleaning them and they can be used and in other applications you can recycle them by, by law, you can tech technically recycle them and in another asset within your portfolio that utilizes that same refrigerant.

But ideally, I think especially with the refrigerants that are out there today, ideally you're recovering them and destroying them and destroying them in the most efficient way possible based on you know, there's a few different destruction methodologies. Uh, I'll be the first to tell you I'm not an expert in the destruction methodologies.

There's plenty of folks out there. Well, not plenty, but there's a [01:02:00] handful of folks out there that can go into more detail on the actual destruction methodology. But they are removing, uh, you know, I would, I think it's upwards to 99% of the potential impact overall. And, and the great thing about that now is that like, and you know, there's plenty of arguments to be made about carbon offsets and, you know, and verified carbon credits and things along those lines.

But there are a number of methodologies out there today to actually certify the destruction of refrigerants. How do you repeat refrigerants specifically for verified carbon credits, which I'd argue if you're going out and buying them anyhow, uh, hopefully as the last, last resort in terms of your strategy that this is a perfect opportunity to, to utilize the destruction of an already challenged G H G.

To, to get you closer to your goals.

[01:02:44] James Dice: Fascinating. Okay, let's close out. My last question is around training and upskilling. So I mean, you educated 30 people in the room at Verge. I'm sure you're doing that all the time, but it feels like there's so many [01:03:00] different stakeholders here that need to understand that this is even a thing, which is why I wanted to have you go on the show first of all.

But even our audience is not gonna take this and go give it to all the HVAC techs out there and all the HVAC service contractors that are doing all of these you know, service calls for low refrigerant, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So what has to happen for us to sort of train and, and sort of upskill everyone to get to where we're making the right decisions and actions here?

[01:03:27] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a really good question. I mean, there's different levels of education, right? It's one, getting people to understand the issue that we're facing into, and we've been trying to do that in creative ways by calling, you know, refrigerants to. Ugly ducking, ugly duckling of the ghg you know, equation.

And also calling it, you know, the Cinderella of the carbon conversation because, you know, they haven't been invited to the ball yet. And so, you know, there's just generally that wider kind of like, Hey, how do we figure out how to get the attention to this? And again, really appreciate you for having me on today to, to, to chat about this lesser known subject.

And then there's, you're absolutely right. Then there's the, call it the [01:04:00] technician base. And the necessity for folks that are working on these systems to have a better understanding of the critical importance of the work that they do. Unfortunately, we're facing into a, a really big challenge right now.

You know, not, not just the climate crisis, but the people that are gonna be a part of the solution. The average age of an H V A C refrigeration technician is 55 years old. The last stat I saw which means that people are retiring out of this space. The good news there is, is that. There is a tension to this and the industry is recognizing it.

The question is whether or not they can recognize it at the scale and PACE that is necessary. The other exciting piece is a lot of these advanced H V A C R technologies that I've been alluding to or referring to, especially naturals and, and CO2 specifically, require more electronic components and controls and so forth.

And I mean, a lot of people oftentimes use this example, but I'll use it as cliche as it may be. But we really need to move in the direction of where the automotive industry has moved, right. As it relates to these systems whereby you know, there's, and, and you actually, [01:05:00] there was actually an article that came out from Emerson, I think earlier, earlier today, talking about the standardization of of, of these equipment components.

And standardization is gonna be critically important, but as is being able to run diagnostics on these systems so that you know the next kids that are coming into this generation, what do they want to be able to do? They want to be able to solve the issue on their phone, not have to go and turn a wrench.

you know, at a grocery store or, you know, on top of a, you know, 30 story building, commercial building, or something along those lines, right? They want to be at least able to see how the system is operating from afar, ideally on their, their smart device. And and begin to hopefully, you know, either solve the issue there or at least be able to diagnose it and diagnose it and make the, the longer term fix more, more efficient or be able to accomplish it more effectively.

We're not quite there yet. That's kind of, especially in the space that we're talking about. I know in a lot of the other smart building spaces, it may be, we may be a little bit closer, I'd argue we got a long runway to walk down, to get to where we need to be in the refrigeration H V A C industry. And and [01:06:00] that's why it's so important that everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, you know, start to come in and think about how we can solve this, this problem.

And it's not just, you know, responsibility of, in my, in my mind, the OEMs and the H V A C space or. The existing service technicians, it's folks that are thinking about smart building technologies and AI and ml and things that, you know, are far outside of my expertise that can be deployed in this space to not only help solve the climate crisis, but get to the, the actual, the grittiness of the issue, which is we need folks to just can better service these pieces of equipment so that these gases don't end up in the atmosphere in the first place.

[01:06:38] James Dice: Totally. Yeah. This whole time I've been just thinking about all the opportunities here. You could say we have a long way to go, which is true. Uh, but there's just a ton of opportunity for people to come in and, and solve problems here in this space. Let's close out Tristan, with some, some carve outs. So, or is there any books or podcasts or other sort of links we can share with the [01:07:00] audience that, that have had a major, major impact on you

[01:07:02] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a, it's, it's a great question and I, I guess, I'll, I'll end by saying, you know, part of the urgency for me is I have a, I have a five-year-old and six month old, and I've been working in this space long before I ever had kids. But I think the joke there is is I, I read a lot of Dr. Seus these days and my, my son happens to be obsessed with, uh, the Lorax, which is, is a good thing.

So the, if, if, you know, the kids themselves aren't a, aren't an important reminder of the urgency of addressing like the climate crisis, certainly the Lorax is a, is a good secondary reminder as well, but more on topic you know, I'm constantly looking and hunting for new information. It's in part how I, uh, came onto your podcast, which again, I really appreciate you having me on today.

But I definitely encourage some folks to go and read the recent heat pump report. That was issued by I e a. It's a very, very long document, but I think it's important. Good news is, is there's finally mention of refrigerants. You know, maybe not as much mention as, as I would like or we would like but at least there're mentioned in there.

So that's, that's one. The other [01:08:00] is, you know, I, I don't know that I started off with, you know, kind of the, the high level facts around refrigerants. So if you've waited till the end and just started listening, now, you know, refrigerants are, are recognized as a 0.5 degree Celsius opportunity. And if you total that up across refrigerant, uh, management and alternative refrigerants the estimation is about, it's a two hundred billion ton opportunity that we need to face into on lifecycle refrigerant management.

One interesting report that was recently issued by eia, NRDC and I G S D I mentioned earlier, it's called the 90 billion Ton Opportunity is definitely, definitely worth a read, even if you just read the, the synopsis or the blog reports that were put out on it. Very interesting. You know, I think the other other thing that's caught my attention and not to take a a dark turn by any means is the, the great filter theory that was outlined by NASA here recently, I think in the last month or so about, you know, why we haven't interacted with other intelligent life forms.

And effectively, you know, the, the theory that they've come out with is that other intelligent life forms have effectively faced into [01:09:00] catastrophic events. I e things like climate change that have wiped them off. They're respective planets. So not, like I said, don't wanna take a dark turn, but I think the really thing that's attracted me to that is the issues that we're facing into are solvable.

We just need to put more attention on them. And I am 100% optimistic that, that we have the ingenuity and culture and values that we can, we can shift to and start to not only deploy the technologies, but one of the, the younger speakers at Verge and I'm gonna forget her name, so forgive me, but. She said something that was really interesting to me.

She said, you know, it's not that we don't have the technologies, it's that we don't have the willingness to shift the culture and the paradigm to meet the demands, to address the, you know, the climate crisis that we're, that we're all facing into. So, you know, it's, it's both a cultural shift and it's a technology shift, and I'm optimistic we can do it.

And, you know, the great news is, is like I said, refrigerants, lesser known, but are [01:10:00] still a huge opportunity. And our solutions out there, like I said, 0.5 degrees Celsius opportunity by the end of the century, if we start focusing on refrigerant management, if we start focusing on alternative refrigerants, and again, we're gonna face into technology issues, but bringing the ingenuity together to do that, we have a real opportunity to solve the problem.

[01:10:19] James Dice: Amazing. Amazing. Yeah, so super, super inspir. , I'll share a couple carve outs as well, so I don't always share on every episode

[01:10:27] Tristam Coffin: I love it. I love

to hear it.

[01:10:28] James Dice: out of them. One is a book called After Cooling. I don't know if you've read this.

[01:10:32] Tristam Coffin: I've heard

of it. I've not

[01:10:33] James Dice: the author's, Eric Dean Wilson. It's about 400 pages. I'm about 25% of the way through, but it breaks down a lot around this refrigerant problem.

It's actually where it starts. So it's the part that I have, have read so far going through the history that you talked about. So for anyone that wants to go deeper into that after Cooling would be a good book to, to read. I'll probably finish it over Christmas whenever I, I take a few weeks off. And, and that's my other carve out as well.

It's, it's [01:11:00] what I like to do in the last few weeks of the year. I've done this every year since starting Nexus, where I take a few weeks off and like pick one or two topics to go deep, deep, deep, deep, deep into . And I, I think what I'm gonna do this year is I'm just blown away by this chat, G P T. Ai, uh, thing that has, you know, kind of taken the world by storm in the last few weeks.

I'm, I'm fascinated everyone should check it out. I'm fascinated for obvious reasons, which is I make my living, educating and blogging and producing content, and you can literally, like today I did a prompt around you know, write me a blog post on the merits of the independent data layer for smart buildings.

And it just like popped out five paragraphs that were like, they weren't, they weren't great. Like they weren't amazing. They weren't cutting edge, they weren't innovative, but it was a good summary of probably what's on the internet about that acronym that many people give me credit for making up. Like, it kind of sounded like I [01:12:00] was writing it a little bit, right?

[01:12:01] Tristam Coffin: out you may have James, you may have

[01:12:03] James Dice: super fascinating. Everyone should go check it out. It's got me wondering, like, okay, what are the. What are the unique things that I bring? What are the unique things that Nexus brings in terms of creating content, uh, in a world where you can just type a prompt like that and get an entire blog post in 10 seconds?

So,

[01:12:24] Tristam Coffin: No, it's,

[01:12:25] James Dice: fascinating stuff going on

right now.

[01:12:27] Tristam Coffin: fascinating. Extremely fascinating.

[01:12:29] James Dice: Well, Tristan, thanks so much for coming on the show. Uh, this has been super interesting, uh, uh, a little bit depressing, but also inspiring at the same time, so appreciate it.

[01:12:39] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, James.

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“You can electrify your way out of natural gas usage and move to renewable energy to get yourself out of scope two emissions but refrigerants are going to be the main solution for electrifying both water and space heating, which means a significant increase in refrigerant usage."

—Tristam Coffin

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter and podcast for smart people applying smart building technology—hosted by James Dice. If you’re new to Nexus, you might want to start here.

The Nexus podcast (Apple | Spotify | YouTube | Other apps) is our chance to explore and learn with the brightest in our industry—together. The project is directly funded by listeners like you who have joined the Nexus Pro membership community.

You can join Nexus Pro to get a weekly-ish deep dive, access to the Nexus Vendor Landscape, and invites to exclusive events with a community of smart buildings nerds.

Episode 132 is a conversation with Tristam Coffin, Co-Founder of Effecterra.

Summary

We started, as usual with Tristam’s background which includes heavy experience in the grocery vertical. But our main focus here is on sustainable refrigerants. We’ve spent a long time covering how the buildings industry needs to decarbonize by electrifying heating systems using heat pumps, but we and the industry as a whole have overlooked the elephant in the room: the GWP of refrigerants themselves and how they contribute to climate change and every organization’s progress toward net zero. Or, as Tristam said, refrigerants are like Cinderella: they haven’t been invited to the decarbonization ball.

Well, this episode is about why they should be perhaps first on the invite list.


📊 A message from our sponsor, Altura Associates 📊

​​Altura is a mid-sized, mission-driven firm delivering impact and performance across the built environment and they’re looking for the best in the industry to join their team. From designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs, to manipulating systems in the field to achieve performance, to building the tools that support project teams, Altura is committed to solving our world's macro-level problems through tangible projects today.

If you are interested in working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach out at careers@alturaassociates.com.


Mentions and Links

  1. Effecterra (2:06)
  2. Verge Climate Tech Event (4:42)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab (18:25)
  4. Reef (48:45)
  5. Project Drawdown (54:02)
  6. Emerson (1:05:01)
  7. IEA Reports (1:07:44)
  8. The 90 Billion Ton Opportunity: Lifecycle Refrigerant Management (1:08:27)
  9. After Cooling by Eric Dean Wilson (1:10:30)
  10. OpenAI (1:11:16)

You can find Tristam on LinkedIn.

Enjoy!

Highlights

  • Tristam’s background (2:09)
  • Keys to sustainability in the grocery vertical (5:57)
  • Important smart building tech in this vertical and status of deployment (8:23)
  • About Effecterra (13:41)
  • Why are refrigerants important? (19:39)
  • The Montreal Protocol? (22:01)
  • US AIM Act (27:31)
  • Companies including refrigerants in their inventory today (29:35)
  • What are low-GWP refrigerants? (34:34)
  • Challenges with incumbent HVAC OEMs (42:56)
  • High-level solutions for existing and new buildings (49:34)
  • The state of technology for using analytics to find leaks (56:04)
  • Industry training and upskilling (1:02:48)
  • Carveouts (1:06:55)

🏢 A message from our sponsor, Smart Buildings Center 🏢

The Smart Buildings Center Education Program (SBCEP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that believes the smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment, particularly as they relate to building operations and management, will enable a cleaner, healthier and more productive future. The SBCEP seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment, and pursues its objective through the following pillars of activity: delivering training programs to educate the building workforce of the future; enabling industry leading demonstration projects; and connecting the industry through hosting and participating in smart buildings events.

Check out their body of work on The Essential Role of Smarter Buildings in the Clean Energy Transition.


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Music credit: Dream Big by Audiobinger—licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Full transcript

Note: transcript was created using an imperfect machine learning tool and lightly edited by a human (so you can get the gist). Please forgive errors!

[00:00:33] James Dice: Altura associates is a midsize mission-driven firm, delivering impact and performance across the built environment in north America. And they're looking for the best in the industry to join their team from designing and implementing corporate sustainability programs to manipulating systems in the field to achieve optimized performance, to building the tools that support those project teams.

Altera is committed to solving our world's macro level problems through tangible projects today. If you're interested in [00:01:00] working alongside passionate colleagues to make a lasting impact, reach at careersatalteraassociates.com. That's careers@alturaassociates.com.

[00:01:11] James Dice: This episode is a conversation with Tristin coffin. Co-founder at Tara. We started as usual with Tristan's background, which includes heavy experience in the grocery vertical. But our main focus here is insatiable refrigerants. We've spent a long time covering how the buildings industry needs to decarbonize by electrifying heating systems using heat pumps.

But we on the podcast and the industry as a whole have overlooked the elephant in the room, which is that the global warming potential over refrigerants themselves. Is super, super high and they contribute to climate change and every organization's progress towards net zero. So as Tristan said, refrigerants are like Cinderella. They haven't been invited to the de-carbonization ball and this episode is about why they should be perhaps the first on that invite list.

[00:01:58] James Dice: Hello, Tristan. Welcome to the [00:02:00] show. Can you introduce yourself?

[00:02:02] Tristam Coffin: I'd be happy to. Thanks for having me, James. Yeah. Tristan Coffin, co-founder and COO at EEC Terra.

[00:02:08] James Dice: All right. And I'd love to get into effect there in just a second. Can you talk about, and start with, with your background, how'd you get here?

[00:02:16] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, be happy to. Like, uh, many of us have been focused on the environment for some time in large part because I enjoy the great outdoors and, uh, all that it has to offer. Uh, so went into the environmental space, uh, formal education, started in the sciences and decided pretty quickly that I wanted to move more, uh, more into the engineering end of things.

So had a fairly interesting degree where it was multidisciplinary focused on engineering natural sciences, uh, as well as the business environment. So effectively environmental studies degree, but focused on the built environment end of things. Fast forward to post, uh, post school, uh, started looking for opportunities, uh, landed with a transportation research center.

So it was DOE, d o [00:03:00] t grant funded. Uh, started doing research in renewable energy and sustainable transportation, uh, and really got interested but was kind of bored in academic world and decided I wanted to get into the corporate space. So started having some resources and, landed at Whole Foods Market in a sustainability manager position, otherwise known as Green Mission Specialist at the time.

Uh, and that started off a 12 year career. So I spent. , four years on the East Coast, and remaining eight on the West coast. Uh, ended my career with Whole Foods after spending five years in director of sustainability and facilities role, uh, overseeing engineering, coordination, built environments, sustainability and operations, uh, facility management, environmental compliance.

So wearing too many hats at any one time. Yeah, lots of changes in the corporate world, obviously over the, the last several years between Covid and everything else going on. Took a long hard look at opportunities after major restructure at Whole Foods that wasn't gonna afford me the opportunity to continue doing what I was passionate [00:04:00] about, which is really the sustainability work, and decided I was gonna go off on my own and, uh, start an organization to, to help folks solve problem statements as it relates to the climate crisis that we're all facing into.

And, really do do it in a, I would say a way that, , is both collaborative. But also unique in a sense that focus on the pragmatic execution of the solutions themselves and, and not so much on just the strategy end of things. So, like to say we're, we're consultants, but, at the end of the day we're, we're solutions providers.

[00:04:30] James Dice: Totally. And you and I met at Verge in San Jose a couple weeks ago, uh, in the fall of 2022, for those of you that are listening to this way after the fact. So that's when this conversation is happening. But I'd love to talk about Whole Foods for a second. I'm a, I'm a major customer of Whole Foods

Uh, it's, it's one of those things where I've just always, always that's, it's been what I'd be willing to spend my money on, right? Uh, is healthy food. But I, that's not what I wanna ask you about. [00:05:00] Obviously, I want to ask you about the grocery vertical specifically. So this, this podcast has done a lot about smart buildings and about decarbonizing buildings, but we haven't zeroed in on grocery to my memory in any single episode so far.

So I thought that'd be a unique. Uh, piece that we could add with this episode, just real quick, you're not focused on it fully, but what are your, what, what are your like reflections on your time there? 12 years? What are the kind of the keys to sustainable grocery and refrigerated retail, I guess, as a more insider term?

And then what are the challenges with, with, you know, decarbonizing that particular space?

[00:05:41] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a really good question. And I like you also gravitate towards Whole Foods and, and did early in my career with them and before my career with them in large part because I really appreciate, you know, the natural food industry, the organic food industry, and putting healthy foods into our body obviously translates to healthy foods being grown in the environment.

[00:06:00] And, you know, we all know the kind of circular conversation that that happens there in a, in a very good sense. So, Uh, being said, I, like I said, I was attracted to it. Had no idea what I was getting myself into, quite honestly, as it related to the grocery space and the challenges that we were gonna face into over my 12 year career with Whole Foods and really the industry and in general.

I think, uh, to answer your question more specifically, you know, the keys to sustainability in the grocery vertical or really interesting, uh, the grocery is the second highest energy use intensity, commercial building space in, in the, well in the US for one, but more generally in the world. Grocery looks a little bit different in places like Europe and so forth.

So it varies in that, you know, number two to three, to four to five spot. But you know, second to, to really normally data centers, and it depends on how you're defining commercial building spaces, of course. So right off the bat, you're dealing with a very, very high EI building. On top of that, you're dealing with refrigeration and, and refrigerants, [00:07:00] which is a lesser known.

Issue that we're gonna, I know, dive into in a little bit more detail. And then you have the operational challenges that you need to face into too, whether it's waste input, throughputs specifically food waste in the grocery industry. So there's any number of focus areas that you could really start to hone your attention on.

Uh, what was most exciting about it for me is that, you know, it gave me a broad breadth of experience and knowledge in terms of what we focused on in regards to sustainability. And it, it really couldn't just be one issue, but had to constantly prioritize on kind of evolving scale where the greatest areas of opportunities were going to be.

And we start looking at, at the building level versus holistically across the organization. It, it was gonna differ and, and certainly the priorities from the customers differ as well, right? So there are a lot of vocal customers and in the grocery space, they have a lot of opinions and rightfully so, right?

It's where their food is coming from. So whether it relates to packaging or the comfort level of, of the building, et cetera. So, yeah, there's, there's just a lot to [00:08:00] unpack in the grocery space, but what was most interesting to me is that, uh, refrigerants and refrigeration specifically were, were more often than not overlooked and seen as kind of just a, another dispensable asset.

But anytime something went wrong with him, that was a whole nother

[00:08:15] James Dice: Hmm. . Yeah. Yeah, totally. So we're gonna get into the refrigeration side of things in a, in a minute. In that grocery vertical though, I'm wondering just a sense, you know, your sense for being in that industry. You know, cuz he, we talk about smart buildings. Smart buildings are really just a bunch of individual industries like grocery office, you know, multi-res, uh, universities, K through 12. In that vertical, you spend a lot of time there. What are the core, kind of core smart building technologies that are important and what, what's your sense of sort of, uh, the deployment or adoption of, of those technologies?

[00:08:55] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. Uh, well, first of all, I use this aga [00:09:00] example quite often, and the grocery space is, is challenged for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is they operate on razor thin margins and extremely small operating budgets. So, like a lot of industries, but I would say uniquely to, to grocery, they, they'll sweat assets for as long as they possibly can.

And adoption of technology is, is oftentimes challenged in large part because of that razor thin margin and, and operating budget that they have to deal with. So, you know, there's, there's grocers out there that have grown through acquisition and so forth, and you know, they, they've taken years to.

Consolidate under a single POS system. Nevermind, you know, being able to deploy smart building technologies. It relates to smart building technologies. I also argue that the grocery space probably has one of the highest amounts of disparate systems that they're utilizing out there. You know, starting with refrigeration controls, H V A C controls, lighting controls obviously the fire management systems, you name it.

I mean, there's just any, any number of systems and the list goes on. I'm just, I'm just rattling off a few [00:10:00] of them. But there's always been a desire in the, the grocery space to try to, I think, consolidate as much control as possible under one system. The challenge is, is that I think most in the grocery space have tried to do so under refrigeration specific control devices or EMS systems.

And that's challenging because. The refrigeration controls do a very, very good job at what they're specifically intended to do. But that's not necessarily the case for other, uh, other assets that they're meant to be controlling or monitoring within, within the building space. And I think we've seen that transition happen quite a bit here, and it's been an evolution over the last five to 10 years in large part with the introduction of digital lighting controls and, uh, and advanced H V A C controls.

There's just no way that these refrigeration controls are ever gonna keep up. So, that has led, I think, the industry to where most folks are in the smart building space, where they're pr looking for the proverbial single pane of glass, which I know you've talked quite a bit about on [00:11:00] the podcast and, and throughout the, uh, yeah.

Throughout your career. And you know, it's, it, uh, everyone's aiming for it. Does it exist? You know, questionable. I think at best, and you could speak to that far better than I can, but I think you're starting to see folks lean into. , at least em i s systems or monitoring systems that are giving them more visibility to their assets.

Now, whether they can control them or not is, is a big question mark, and I think we'll continue to be a big question mark in large part because the refrigeration controls, which are really the, the, uh, the brain of a grocery store are so critically important to the operations. And anytime something goes wrong, it pretty much puts a, a redwood tree sized roadblock in place and uh, and that's tough. And I think there's other elements too that need to be taken into account and, we'll, we can maybe get into a little bit more detail on this, but leak detection technologies, for example, are, have always been critical to the grocery space, but they've been somewhat unaffordable in some respects.

And, and quite honestly, they haven't evolved much over the last [00:12:00] several decades, so they don't really do, I think what people think they're intended to do, which is address leaks immediately. They find leaks, they notify people. . And sometimes someone fixes it. , I guess is the easiest way to put it.

Um, And then obviously food safety continuing to be an increasingly important element of operations and keeping people safe. You know, temperature monitoring and things along those lines have been critically important. And then, you know, the age of the pandemic, obviously air quality given you can't not go to the grocery store even though we're starting to see obviously delivery in last mile and so forth.

But there's still, you know, a fair amount of folks that aren't plugged into that and aren't gonna, you know, get food delivered to their house. They're gonna go out and get it and which means that, you know, you have to be indoors at these spaces. So there's so much popping up. And like I said I think the grocery industry is right for the picking in terms of opportunity to address how we deploy these type of smart building technologies.

But they've been slow to adopt in many instances.

[00:12:59] James Dice: [00:13:00] Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And the, the, the work I've done in grocery I, I, I helped a, a acquire or do some due diligence on a company they were thinking about acquiring in this space. And I was sort of blown away by, you know, doing all these different interviews with customers. And then talking about the same problems you see in other verticals with vendor lock-in.

Those vendors are, are different vendors, but the same sort of patterns are playing out, which I found totally fascinating. Specifically with refrigeration controls providers, you know, the, the incumbents or the, you know, the OEMs that have been around for decades. It's very similar to the building controls industry.

The, that I thought that was fascinating. Let's, let's jump to effect era. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about your, the, the firm and the services and the kind of what you guys are up to and what sort of sorts of clients, uh, you're serving.

[00:13:53] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, absolutely. like I said before, we, we really set out to do something different. Obviously having been on the [00:14:00] owner operator side for, for 12 years, uh, have worked with a number of consultants and engineering firms, organizations, et cetera, and, and have nothing but the, the highest respect for, for everyone that I've ever worked with.

And, and those that I haven't as well. I think everyone that's working in this space has something to offer. I think for us it was a matter of not becoming just another consultant that provided a strategy that unfortunately sits on an owner operator's shelf for several months, if not years, and collects dust, but really show up to the industry with some pragmatic solutions that we could begin to implement, ideally as quickly as possible, in large part, because we truly believe that addressing the climate crisis at, at scale and PACE is absolutely critical.

And that's built into our, our mission statement. That being said, I. , you know, spent a lot of time in the industry and finding partners and organizations that are doing really great work. So had the fortunate opportunity to co-found effect with two partners one of whom has, uh, both 37 years of experience in technology development.

So [00:15:00] that was really critically important to me, having that deep kind of technology background and expertise. Which is unfortunately not something you find very often these days cuz r and d seems to be getting slash left and right within a lot of corporate organizations at least. So he, uh, he spent about third of his career in aerospace engineering, about third in energy and about a third in and refrigeration in H V A C.

And that's how he and I got to know each other. Was sitting on the board of the North American Steam Board Refrigeration Council together. My other co-founder comes more outta the traditional epr consulting. Contracting space. And I say contracting cuz I think that's critically important. He also happens to be based in Europe, so it's a little bit of a different flavor over there than it is over here in the state.

So really um, we set out to I would say bridge oceans and try to bring technologies and solutions from across the globe to North America where we feel like, you know, give or take maybe 10 years behind. And I know that's somewhat cliche, but it's the truth in some respects. So, and an approach to the industry with not a prescriptive set of services so much to say [00:16:00] that, Hey, you know, what's your problem statement?

How can we help? And we had no idea what to expect in terms of how people were going to, to take that. More often than not organizations are, are looking for you to tell them, you know, here are your services, how, you know, what, how can you use them? Instead, we were kind of going to people and saying, you know, here is our experience.

Here's our expertise. Here's the, the breadth of the knowledge of the team that we've built. And we're now a team of 13. And continuing to grow mostly with technical background. But we've just hired our first policy expert and we're extremely excited about her joining the team. So really trying to, I would say, address the climate crisis in a, like I said, in a pragmatic way with a breadth of experience that comes from multiple different backgrounds.

And, uh, and that's kind of come into focus in three ways. So we're doing technology development and, uh, we're helping folks commercialize, commercialize, excuse me, technologies that we believe are going to be important part of the solution set for the climate crisis. And that's taking, shaping a number of different ways.

Everything from energy [00:17:00] to smart buildings through to refrigeration and H V A C, mostly in the advanced system side of things, which we'll dive into in a little bit more detail. Mm-hmm. , we're agnostic, so we don't sell any technologies. And, you know, we really give third party reviews similar to what you've been doing for some time in terms of what's the best.

But we'll work with anyone who needs a helping hand in this, in this particular space. The other piece is around more of the traditional consulting side of things, so working on GD reduction efforts and working with I would say we thought we were gonna be working with the tail of the dog, but we're also working with the dog.

And what I mean by that is, you know, we, we do believe all of the other companies that aren't the, you know, fortune 500 s that have aggressive climate commitments need to come along on those journey as well. So we're working with all of the above. But we've had the fortune opportunity to also work with some of the big players, which is great because you learn a lot from what they've.

started to commit to, and I've already started down the journey of accomplishing, uh, which is critically important to be able to take those lessons learned and apply them to the smaller organizations that may just be starting out on their journey. [00:18:00] But again, with a very pragmatic focus on the execution of, of those actual strategies.

And then lastly, as the services side of things, offering our technical expertise for things like commissioning oversight and helping with advanced H V A C R system deployment I e CO2 systems for example. And that kind of comes full circle with some of the technology development work we're doing and some of the consulting work we're doing.

So we're excited to be kicking off a project with Oak Ridge National Lab to develop a CO2 chiller heat pump. And that really stemmed from us seeing the demand from the consulting side there being lack of solution to get closer to zero. And then saying, okay, I think we can, we can work on this because we have the service expertise and we have the technology development expertise.

And then going out and creating a collaborative consortium of team members, including Oak Ridge National Lab to start working on an important and critical solution set that doesn't currently exist in North America. So that's a little bit, little bit about us. We're excited about our work and, and it's really excited about all the partnerships [00:19:00] and collaboration that we've been able to, to work on in the short two years that we've been around, and hopefully many more to come.

[00:19:05] James Dice: Yeah, sounds exciting. And that's super impressive, you know, having come from a consulting background, super impressive to grow to 13 people in two years. That's awesome. With that context setting, uh, you know, kind of the, the background you're coming from and the expertise you're coming from, let's dive into our, our main sort of topic for this episode, which is sustainable refrigerants.

And I'd hate to start with context setting again, but if you could , we're going a little bit level deeper here into context setting, but, but w maybe let's just start with why sustainable refrigerants are important.

[00:19:38] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's,

[00:19:39] James Dice: let, let me just set a little bit more context because I think if you're coming into this in from listening to all of our past episodes, you might think, Hey, we have to electrify everything to solve climate change and we have to convert everything to heat pumps.

If anything, refrigeration is, is what we need, right? Uh, we, we need more refrigeration, right? To make heat pumps [00:20:00] happen. And so what I'd like to do with this conversation is sort of widen people's gaze a little bit and sort of get into, okay, yes, but this type of rich refrigeration. So with that, would love to hear you sort of set the stage.

[00:20:12] Tristam Coffin: yeah. No, that's great. And I think there's two, there's two contextual pieces that we can dive into. It's, it's the history, right, which I think is critically important to outline. And it's also to the point that you were just making you know, why refrigerants are important today and why they're gonna become even more important.

And I, and I think with that being. that piece is, is somewhat simple and I'll, I'll start with a, with a, I guess a little bit of an anecdote, but you can electrify your way outta natural gas usage, right? You can move to renewable energy or 24 7 carbon free energy to get, you know, get yourself out of the, the scope two emissions challenge that you're, you're facing into.

And you know, you can electrify your fleets effectively, like electrification and move to 24 7. Carbon free energy will, will get you generally your organization generally close. There's one outstanding item [00:21:00] that is not gonna be something that you can just easily kind of flip the switch on, so to say.

And that happens to be refrigerants. And, and because of that, and also because of what you just alluded to as a result of the increase of, of heat pump technologies that utilize refrigerants that are going to be the main solution for electrifying heating, specifically for both domestic hot water and space heating is going to increase the amount of refrigerants that are gonna be utilized.

That's one piece. We'll come back, we'll come back to that. The, his, the history piece I think is really interesting. We've kind of been going through this evolution over the last several decades of you know, starting with what quote unquote natural refrigerant, which I know we're gonna talk a little bit more about, I hope.

As part of the solution set which were the original refrigerants, we moved to synthetic refrigerants, uh, specifically CFCs that were introduced into the, uh, into the space several, several decades ago. And those were the original synthetics. We realized over time that they were causing a hole in the [00:22:00] ozone layer effectively.

So the Montreal Protocol comes into place and that Montreal Protocol which was a, a global treaty, said we need to address these, these CFCs and h CFCs effectively which were the replacements for, for the CFCs. So we started to address the, the. call it synthetic refrigerant issues that were focused on what they call ozone depletion potential or ods, which is ozone depleting substances. And you fast forward and today to where we're at today, we've, we've effectively started to phase out all of those refrigerants. They're still in use, so they're not gone still very much in use, including the earlier CFCs, but H CFCs in particular to HFCs, which are the line share of what's being deployed out there today and is already in in operation.

And many of the, the refrigeration H V A C and other heat pump type technologies that exist out there. Uh, and the reason there's such a challenge and such an issue is because they have an extremely high global warming potential. So this is the, the [00:23:00] core of what you were asking in your question is if you have carbon dioxide that has a global warming potential or GWP of one.

Uh, your common HFC refrigerants are gonna have a global warming potential of anywhere between 2000 and 4,000. So, which means that their impacts on global warming is 4,000 times or 2000 times, depending on the type of refrigerant, more potent than carbon dioxide, which is the common conversation that we're, we're using as the baseline, right?

It's the CO2 equivalency that we have to concern ourselves with. And it's why methane, for example, is, is getting a lot of tension right now too, because these are what, not only are they that much more potent but their lifespan is also different. So you probably heard the term short-lived climate pollutants, right?

Their impact is very, very potent and, and very, very impactful in, in a shorter period.

[00:23:49] James Dice: and, and basically I, I hate that I, I don't know if I have to point this out to people, but I feel like I should. So when I moved into my house that I currently live in, [00:24:00] turned on the air conditioner for the first time, didn't work, blowing out hot Air

Tech comes out and he's like, you're supposed to have seven pounds of refrigerant and you only have two and a.

And I was like, okay, cool. Where'd the other five and a half go? . And, and that's the main way that this happens, right? Is they It's the gas and it leaks. As soon as you have a hole, it leaks out. Right? Is that, that's the, the main way that these emissions happen.

[00:24:24] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's, it's a really good question. So the, there's, you have to look at the life cycle of it, but generally speaking yes. The, the operational element of the system that you're deploying, whether it's your home AC unit, whether it's your home refrigerator, whether it's a, a grocery refrigerator, whether it's, you know, commercial building.

that's, uh, operating a chiller or a package rooftop unit during the operation of those systems, the gas is gonna leak it. It's just, there's no way around it. Whether it's because a mechanic does something

incorrectly, whether it's because it's a man manufacturing default, or just because lightning strikes.

You know, the, the [00:25:00] reality is, is that these gases are somehow throughout the operation, more likely than not going to find their way into the atmosphere. But there's also the beginning of life, right? So when you're charging a system either at the factory or in the field, when I say charging, it means effectively putting the gas into the operating system or the pre-op operating system.

And then there's the end of life, and I think the end of life. And there's some statistics out there that say 90% of refrigerant emissions occur at end of life. Uh, and that 90% number is, is obviously not industry specific. It's, it's a global stat that exists out there. And largely because. . What happens when people rip things out?

What happens when a building is demolished, right? If not properly addressed? Demolition comes in, uh, they start removing everything, you know, and even if they're doing it systematically, more often than not, if they're not trained to properly recover the refrigerant gas within these systems it's gonna leak.

And, you know, that's less common in the commercial and industrial space. But think about you [00:26:00] as a, as a homeowner, right? If you didn't have the background that you do, right? If, if you're, let's say for instance, you were like, oh, I, you moved into your house and you just needed a new AC unit. Maybe you rip, maybe you decide you're gonna rip the old one out.

And there's a lot of people that are doing it themselves out there. They rip it out, throw their AC unit to the curb, and hope for the best, but can almost guarantee that, you know, even, even though there are regulations out there and some places in the world, not all to address that, that gas is just ending up in, in the atmosphere almost hands down.

So it's , yeah. It's an issue that we need to address throughout the life cycle. And there's a recent report issued by the N nrdc, I G S D and EIA focused on lifecycle refrigerant management. And, you know, their, by their estimations, it's a 90 billion ton opportunity by the end of the century to address.

And we'll, we'll get into the details of those numbers and so forth here, but it's critically important to focus on [00:27:00] reducing the leaks wherever we possibly can. But and really honestly, getting beyond leakage, which is another topic I'd love to unpack with you.

[00:27:07] James Dice: Cool. All right. So basically, if I can repeat all that back to you refrigerants are extremely potent. They should be part of organizations scope one reporting, potentially even scope three maybe if they are getting rid of them afterwards.

And then as we electrify the planet, as we electrify buildings, they're only becoming more and more important. Right. That, that's the general context. Another piece of context that I was wondering about, I read about the US AIM Act. Can you talk about what that means? Is that relevant

[00:27:38] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. So effectively the Montreal protocol was the, the global treaty that started to address, call it ozone depletion or depleting substances, excuse me, our ODP refrigerants. Uh, fast forward, the Kali Amendment came out, I'll get my math wrong here, but after the Montreal Protocol, about 15, 18 years, I don't know, a couple [00:28:00] decades.

later in the whole idea behind the Canali amendment to the Montreal protocol was to begin to address the HFCs. So hydrofluoric carbons, which are the high GWP refrigerants, they don't have the ozone depletion potential, but they do have that high gwp.

So that the canali amendment to the Montreal protocol was the, OR is the, excuse me.

Global treaty that addresses it. The US AIM Act is effectively aligning the US regulation to, with the Kali amendment, to address HFC refrigerants. So like there was a phase down with the ozone depleting substances. There is now a phase down on the high global warming, potential refrigerants, specifically HFCs.

So those HFCs are now already in the midst of the phase down. There was a slight drop in terms of allocate allocation. In 20 22, 20 23. And there will be a much larger drop in 2024. And then so on throughout the, the next, uh, the next decade and [00:29:00] a half or so whereby HFC refrigerants will eventually be, be phased out.

We've seen similar regulations in, in Europe, uh, under the f gas regulation. And it's a, it's a very good thing. The challenge is, is you know, what next, effectively, and I, and that's a conversation that we will, we'll come onto here in just a moment, but my argument is that we need to think beyond the next interim solution and we need to be thinking further out to the final solution.

And when I say further out that solution needs to exist today, and in some instances it does. In other instances it doesn't. But we need to be thinking about it and we need to be working on it.

[00:29:34] James Dice: Totally. Yeah, we'll get to that. I, I hope, let's start though with, if I'm looking at this from a building under standpoint, and because we've done, I think we've done, what did I say, 14 different podcasts on decarbonization this year in 2022 alone, we did even more in 2021. So we we're on this march. Right.

And I haven't heard, we've had several building owners on the, on the podcast. You know, I'm not gonna call 'em [00:30:00] out because I'm, then, I'm gonna say that they're not thinking about this. But I haven't heard anyone say, you know, refrigerants are part of our Scope one inventory today, and they're 10% of the, you know, whatever.

Right. And I haven't heard anyone say, we're gonna get rid of scope one by fixing, you know, our heating and electrifying it, but also fixing refrigerant, managing refrigerant. I haven't heard anybody say that one time. So

[00:30:23] Tristam Coffin: that makes me sad. You know that James, right?

[00:30:26] James Dice: Well, you, you're, you're part of the solution here, but, so how many companies are actually doing that and including it in their inventory today?

Because I, I feel like most are just saying, okay, what's my natural gas or, you know, direct consumption from my utility bills.

[00:30:42] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Uh, it's, it's a great question and, and unfortunately, you know, most folk you're not alone in that regard. And most folks that you've spoken with, and most folks in the industry are, you know, consider this a niche area. I was having a conversation with, uh, someone that hosts a, a very large NetZero event, uh, annually.

And [00:31:00] you know, I ha just said, you know, it'd be great to highlight refrigerants as, as part of that. And, you know, they just honestly said to me, you know, it feels like a very niche, niche issue. And I said, yeah, that's part of the problem is everyone thinks that a, it's a niche, niche issue, excuse me, but it isn't a niche issue.

We're dealing with refrigerants in almost every building space out there. I think the challenge is, is. , the supermarket industry, for example, has been focusing on it for many years because it is a very concentrated amount of refrigerant gas in these refrigeration systems. However, if you go to any large commercial building space where you know, they're just cooling and heating the, the space alone, you know, there's still likely upwards to thousands, if not several hundred pounds of refrigerant within, within these buildings.

And high gwp refrigerants as we were talking about before. So it's an issue that everyone's facing into. And I think the other big thing there is, is that it is, it's growing not only for the fact [00:32:00] that the solutions that we're deploying for things like electrification and decarbonization are including it, but it's gonna grow because it's gonna become the last standing scope one emission that you have to deal with.

And like you said, also scope three arguably, depending on who's managing it for you, et cetera. But generally speaking, focusing on the scope one aspect of refrigerants. So, but I think the challenge and why we don't hear about it as often as we should is because, you know, it, it's just, it's not as tangible, right?

I think it's, it's harder to measure. There's a lot of human root and error in terms of tracking it. Regulation has been very focused on, as I mentioned, ozone depletion substances for some time now, and, and honestly only tracking those systems with 50 pounds of refrigerant and above. And as we were talking about before, whereas I was just alluding to those, you know, especially in a, in a space where package rooftop [00:33:00] units are dominating cooling in North America, specifically in the us you know, package rooftop units are normally like around the 50 pound limit, but.

They're not always approaching it. So as we've continued to create more distributed cooling systems you know, there hasn't been as much attention on those distributed systems because compliance hasn't focused on them. So that is the other big issue that we're facing into is there is not nearly as much data out there as necessary to determine what the magnitude of this issue is.

A lot of it has been modeled, it's not even actually been measured. So, and that's in large part because the focus in the US and a lot, a lot of the other parts of the world where there is regulation has been on systems with 50 pounds or somewhere close to that range of ozone, ozone, depleting substances versus all of your systems that contain refrigerants with any type of refrigerant in it.

And with that being said, we have very, very, like I said, little empirical data to say, here's the order of magnitude that we're [00:34:00] facing into. So not we have an idea and we can. You know, model the numbers and so forth. And that's where some of the statistics that I've thrown out earlier and will continue to, to rattle off as we continue talking come from.

But I'd argue that the challenge is even bigger than we expect.

[00:34:14] James Dice: Mm-hmm. Fascinating. Yeah. So if I think about my home system, I think it's three tons. It's got seven pounds. So it could have, you know, yeah. So 50, 50 pounds would be, you know, still a pretty small unit.

Yeah. Okay. I think it's a good time to just sort of introduce, you know, low or sustainable refrigerants themselves.

So you mentioned, I think we've talked about low gwp refrigerants, low ghd refrigerants, natural refrigerants, sustainable refrigerants. Can you kind of just sort of define like what are these different types of refrigerants?

[00:34:53] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, happy, happy to. So there's two, I call it schools of [00:35:00] thought. There's a synthetic refrigerant, uh, and then there's natural refrigerants. And natural refrigerants are somewhat misleading, I would say. Just by their terminology alone, say natural refrigerants you know, it's not that they're necessarily, you know, pulled outta the air and you can just use them.

So, for example, co2, it's not coming from. Carbon capture, anything along those lines. It's nor normally the byproduct of, you know, specific industries. That's where that, that CO2 is coming from. So some folks are beginning to use the term nature identical. In other words, you know, they appear on the periodic table.

So they're naturally occurring but they're not necessarily quote unquote natural refrigerants. And I think that statement becomes more matter of fact when you start talking about hydrocarbons as, as a refrigerant, right? So things like propane or R two 90 is the, is the the ashray number provided to, uh, to refrigerant grade propane.

And people like, wait a second, isn't propane part of the, part of the problem?

Isn't carbon dioxide part of the problem? And the reality is, is yes, they are part of the [00:36:00] problem, but when used as refrigerant, they have a GWP of anywhere between one three. And as we talked about before, the gwp of most synthetic refrigerants that on the, are on the market today or.

Well above you know, the thousand mark as we, as we discussed previously and even the interim solutions that are coming to market. And this is an important note, so there's a lot of terms floating around out there. So HFOs are the new, call it brand of, well not brand, they're the new synthetic um, refrigerants that are, that are coming to market.

And they already are, are in market in, in some respects. The f in there is the important piece. They're fluorinated gases effectively. And yes, the new fluorinated gases are having lower gwp. In most cases they're, they're moderate. So R 32 for example, which we believe is gonna be an important part of the solution set.

But it still has a gwp of above, well above 600, I think it's six 50. Six 50 or approximately six 50. I'm remembering [00:37:00] it off the top of my head. But that's also using a hundred year value which is something we can get into here in just a minute. So a hundred year GWP value is measuring the impact of that gas over a hundred years.

But remember, these are short lift climate pollutants. So if you use a 20 year value, and I think, if I remember correctly, the average life of most synthetic refrigerants is about 21 years, if I'm not mistaken. So the 20 year value is actually more representative of the impact of these gases in the atmosphere and on, on the climate.

That being said the values of those particular gases actually increase. So our 32 actually goes above I think it, it ends up being like 800 or 900, or even above a thousand, if I'm not mistaken. So that plays a really interesting part in the conversation because regulation is saying we need to get to seven 50 at least as an interim step and a lot of.

the OEMs, chemical manufacturers, et cetera, are aiming for that and they're creating these interim solutions. When I say interim, I argue they're interim because if the end goal [00:38:00] is as close to zero as possible, there's no way that these aren't interim solutions. So therefore we're running into this kind of next phase of the challenge as we went from ozone depleting substances to high gwp you know, HFCs to now we're looking at HFOs, which are interim solution, some of which are also flammable.

So you've probably heard folks refer to, or maybe you've heard, or some of your audiences heard, folks refer to them as a two Ls. So the A two Ls are classification of the refrigerant. That means that they're slightly flammable. A three s, for example are highly flammable. So for example, R two 90 s and a three refrigerant, highly flammable refrigerant, a two Ls, slightly flammable refrigerants.

Those are coming, those are coming to market. And a lot of folks are looking at the ATLs, which are most cases HFOs as the solution. And it's not that they're not gonna be a part of the solution, but again, as I mentioned before, my mind, we need to leapfrog the next interim step and we really [00:39:00] need to go as close as zero as possible.

And the reality is, is natural refrigerants exist today? They're being deployed in a number of different solutions and applications. Uh, do they come with their challenges? Absolutely. I just mentioned R two 90, for example, is, is highly flammable, so additional safety measures and it's not gonna be utilized.

And, uh, in every application, especially in, in high charge amounts, CO2 has very high operating pressures. But it is a very manageable and a very efficient, uh, and very effective refrigerant with the gdpp of one. And. it is becoming more common and more and more applications. So refrigeration, for example, there is no reason why commercial refrigeration, in my opinion, should be using anything other than CO2 at this point in time.

Why? Because it's gonna get you as close to zero as possible. And the supplemental technologies that have come into play better control algorithms, liquid and gas, ejectors, automatic gas cooling we, the list goes on. And there's other technologies like [00:40:00] pressure exchange devices, et cetera that we've had the fortunate opportunity to, to work on that are going to make CO2 even more effective in terms of its deployment within, within these different applications. Is that true for package rooftop units? No. And there, and there lies the challenge that we're, we're heading into. The US unfortunately has a, an addiction to low cost, very efficient package rooftop units for cooling. normally commercial buildings and really any buildings for that matter, those high pressure systems do not have an alternative right now.

In other words, a lot of the, the gases, the low G B P synthetic gases that are coming to market are operate and low pressure environments. So a lot of the synthetics that have a GWP between one and three will work great in low to medium pressure chillers, but they're not gonna work well in these high pressure package rooftop units, for example.

And the same is true for the naturals. So there's kind of, there's like I said, two different conversations that [00:41:00] we're, we're coming onto here. One is solutions exist and we need to be deploying 'em in the applications today where they exist. And I would argue natural refrigerants are a very good solution.

Are they the sole answer? No. I would never argue that they're the sole answer, but they definitely need to be a, a bigger part of the solution today. The other is we need to face into the technical challenges that we're facing to address the other applications, and it may require a paradigm shift. We may just have to say, you know what?

If package rooftop units are not gonna get to a place where they need to get to because of the technol technology issues that we're facing into, then we may have to look to go back to more of centralized system architectures so that we can deploy better solutions that are coming to market at the scale and PACE, we need them to.

[00:41:47] James Dice: Got it. Wow. Yeah, that's such a good, great overview.

[00:41:57] James Dice: Now I know many of you enjoy the [00:42:00] virtual smart buildings exchange conference in August. The team behind that conference is the smart building center education program. Uh, 5 0 1 C3 non-profit organization that believes a smarter use of technology and practices in the built environment, particularly as they relate to billing, operations and management will enable a cleaner, healthier, and more productive future. The smart building center seeks to establish thought leadership for smart technologies and practices within the built environment and pursues its objective through the following.

Pillars of activity first. They deliver a training programs to educate the building workforce, the future second, they enable industry leading demonstration projects, and finally they connect the industry through hosting and participating in events like the smart buildings exchange conference. So check out their body of work on the essential role of smarter buildings into clean energy transition at the link in the show notes. And when you get in touch, tell them nexus labs center.

[00:42:56] James Dice: So my next question is around, I want to get to the solutions. I wanna make sure we have [00:43:00] time for, for kind of how you guys help your clients sort of work through this. Right. . But when I was watching you at Verge, you, you sat on a great panel, really great panelists.

You were, you were awesome on it. Some questions came from the audience around challenges to natural refrigerants, challenges to low DWP refrigerants coming from the HVAC oem, sorry, the manufacturers of package rooftop units, chillers, et cetera, heat pumps. Right. Can you just kind of summarize what's going on there?

Because what, what I found interesting was these are the same manufacturers that are touting their systems as energy saving and decarbonizing and green. And at the same time, it felt a little bit like what was happening is they're delaying the progress that's happening from this, you know, on this transition to more sustainable refrigerants.

[00:43:56] Tristam Coffin: Look it, I'll, I'll start by saying I don't, I don't think any, [00:44:00] anyone out there, including even the chemical manufacturers that are working on these synthetic refrigerants have any sort of ill intent specifically, right? Like they're focused on operating their business and, and the way that they need to operate their business to remain in compliance and try to provide what they believe is the necessary next generation of solutions.

It's the same thing that we were kind of just talking about, is there's not enough recognition of the actual issue that we're facing into. And that's why education and conversations like these are critically important. So starting there is, you know, the OEMs specifically, they're manufacturing, the majority of the H V A C equipment that's being deployed in the US today are focused on energy efficiency because that's what they've been told they need to focus on.

We as an industry collectively need to shift the conversation from specifically focusing on energy efficiency to starting to look at. Yeah, well, one of the industry terms is total equivalent warming impact, but I would just call it total life cycle carbon impact of [00:45:00] not only the, the equipment in its operations from an energy perspective, but the direct emissions associated with the refrigerants, of course.

And then if you really want to get into it, call it the embodied carbon of the materials that are being used to, to obviously create these, these systems that is hard to swallow , right? Especially when you're not being told to do that, and when the market is not moving you in that direction. There's also the, the technology challenge that I just mentioned, right?

Like today, the OEMs do not necessarily see a clear line of sight to be able to produce what they're producing in terms of a similar application utilizing a better refrigerant, let's put it that way. Um, And that is a true issue that that needs to be addressed, and that's why I'm saying, Can we work on it?

Can we put more r and d dollars into finding a high pressure gas that can work in a package rooftop unit that comes closer to a GWP of, of one or even [00:46:00] zero for that matter? Yes, I believe we can, and I believe there are companies globally including, including ours, that are thinking about that and are starting to work on it.

But it is, it is gonna have its technology challenges and we won't get into the details of that today. And quite honestly, I, you know, I I'm not even as versed, as well versed on it as I probably could be. There are plenty of folks out there that are in the r d labs trying to figure out what the next best solution is, and I'm certainly not one of them.

We're working with many of them, but so I don't wanna, I don't wanna speak too much out of turn here, but there is a technology challenge and we can't, we can't ignore it. That being said is there are solutions that can be deployed and it will require paradigm shift and that paradigm shift does.

Acquire a change in thinking about how the architectures are utilized. And what I mean by that is I think the grocery industry specifically is really facing into an interesting opportunity whereby you could start to utilize the refrigeration system more effectively, not just from a heat reclaimed perspective [00:47:00] to use the waste heat off the refrigeration systems for heating and cooling purposes, but start to leverage the natural refrigeration systems of which CO2 is a hugely effective gas, especially from a waste heat perspective, to start to utilize that for the heating and cooling of the building space as well.

And, you know, I come, come obviously having spent a lot of time in the, the grocery industry, but that similar application can be deployed in chiller systems and other systems for or other like systems, excuse me, across other building sectors and, and so forth. But again, it, it really is gonna require a shift in.

Everyone's attitude towards how we approach heating and cooling and building spaces. And the other, I think, important piece there is, is because refrigerants aren't being tracked, and again, that order of magnitude in terms of what their impact is gonna be, and the lack of awareness is, there's just no, so there's no compliance pressure on the OEM space to start to think about this.

Even though there's a phase down coming into effect, as we talked about under the AM act, but they already [00:48:00] have their interim solution. So most of them are gonna move to these moderate GWP refrigerants. The, the roadmap for all the OEMs right now is to get below, effectively seven 50 in terms of gwp, but seven 50, still a very high number, right?

As compared to one or zero. And then because of the lack of awareness, the market's not pushing them either, right? Because most climate initiatives at organizations and at most of the state level or even globally, are not saying, Hey, you need to address refrigerants. As much as you are addressing energy efficiency.

And that those are kind of the three big three or four big challenges that we're, uh, we're up against. And, and yeah. And that's why the awareness conversation is critically important. And I think you heard me mention Reef, which is a forum that we kicked off actually at Verge, called the Refrigerant Emissions Elimination Forum.

And the whole idea there was to really kick this conversation into gear and start to raise an awareness amongst a, you know, cross [00:49:00] stakeholder group of owners, of operators of subject matter experts. Uh, you know, eventually moving into the conversation with the OEMs, with the manufacturers of the components, start to say, Hey, this is an issue.

We are paying attention to it. And if we don't start to address it now, there is no way we're gonna hit our climate objectives, you know, in the next decade and beyond. Because this, this technology issue is not gonna be solved overnight, is the big, is the big deal. And it may not be solved in within the decade.

But if, certainly if we don't start now, it's definitely not gonna be solved within a decade.

[00:49:32] James Dice: Totally, totally. Let's jump into solutions. And maybe just starting a little bit more high level and maybe we can dive in if it makes sense. But I think about the whole marketplace as a whole bunch of existing buildings and the new buildings coming online that are less in quantity, but still important, right? So can you talk about those two categories of buildings? Where might an asset owner or a developer start to think about this and what are the [00:50:00] solutions they can sort of implement, uh, for getting, getting a hang, a wrangle on these, these, these emissions?

[00:50:05] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's an awesome question and it's gonna sound super cliche and I'm sure people have said it a million times before, but you can't manage what you

don't,

Maddie.

[00:50:14] James Dice: measure

[00:50:15] Tristam Coffin: Yep. And yeah, see you took the words right outta my mouth. It it, but it's true. It's really true. And in this case it's, it's very true.

And. The challenge that I alluded to earlier with refrigerants is that they're a lot harder to measure than natural gas or electricity use because they're not running through a meter, let's put it that way. So, you know, dive a little bit into the weeds without going into too much detail, cuz I know we, we wanna focus on the solutions is, you know, tracking refrigerant gases require someone going out.

And first off, understanding what was in the system to begin with. Secondly how much gas they're putting into the system if there is a leak. And then following that throughout the life cycle of that piece of equipment, right? So even if you're doing it perfectly [00:51:00] from day one to, you know, the, the last day of operation recovery and, and ideally destruction of that refrigerant gas, you've probably still missed a portion.

You know, I don't know what the percentage may be, but the reality is, is it's not happening perfectly. It's happening less than perfectly, but the starting point is, Taking an inventory, getting out there, understanding every asset that has a single drop refrigerant in it, arguably because every drop refrigerant in my mind is important.

And I think that's the message that we want to get out there, creating that inventory first and foremost. And then starting to track the service events associated with those assets. So understanding when gas exits the system, when gas is put back in the system calculate and therefore calculating your leak rates associated with each of those individual assets.

And again, not the bare minimum, so not the 50 pound and above units with ozone depleting substances in [00:52:00] them, but every unit with any drop of refrigerant in it. And again, that's a tremendous undertaking in large part because there are thousands of assets in any given, you know, commercial building, let's put it that way.

, you know, everything from under counter refrigerators to, you know, split units that are cooling computer rooms to all 30 roof package rooftop units up there and, you know, and, and maybe a chiller or, you know, rack based system that's cooling some sort of pharmaceuticals or groceries or whatever the case may be.

The, the list goes on and on and on. So it's not an easy undertaking. And, and then measuring that, that gas in the first place, you know, there's three methodologies to go about measuring it. One is nameplate which you hope for the best that you can actually take the manufactured charge off the nameplate if it's not, you know, worn out, weathered out, whatever the case may be.

The other is calculation. So you effectively measure the piping or estimate the measurement of the piping and the components within the system. And then go through a calculation methodology to determine how [00:53:00] much gas may be in the system. That's also fairly challenged. The best, but the most intensive is actually taking the gas out, measuring it, weighing it, excuse me, and putting it back in.

anytime you open up a system, you also turn it into a potential leap potential event. So there's all these challenges. All that being said is starting point, is beginning to create an inventory measuring the amount of gas or what we like to refer to as the entrained carbon of the, of the systems, and then the total assets altogether and combined to understand what your buildings and train carbon looks like.

[00:53:31] James Dice: Okay. Okay.

[00:53:33] Tristam Coffin: then you gotta keep tracking it going forward. So it's not like you just, you're, you're done, right? , you, you give up. But from there it's about starting to understand how you can avoid gases, the refrigerant gases, excuse me, from exiting those systems throughout the remainder of their life cycle, uh, as well as that end of end of life.

And we can come on to the end of life solutions here in just a moment. But then it's also thinking about how you can start to look to [00:54:00] alternatives. So for those of you who haven't read Project Drawdown, for any number of reasons. Go read it. Go look it up. In 2017, they published the first report and the number one climate mitigation solution was refrigerants.

And I think the joke was, who's gonna write that press release? Right? For the very reason that we've talked about, people's eyes tend to glaze over when it comes to talking about refrigerants. Uh, they, they've since published a number of other reports. They've actually split out refrigerants into two categories or two solutions cuz it's focused on solutions.

Number one is refrigerant management. Number two is alternative refrigerants. You add them two together, I think they're still in the number one or number two spot in terms of climate mitigation opportunities. But so we're talking about refrigerant management is one. But then once you understand how you manage your refrigerants, you then need to understand how you start to move to alternatives.

So starting to take out those high impact refrigerants or high GWP refrigerants, and in many cases where ozone depletion substances are still in, uh, in employment. [00:55:00] take those out, which are all, which as I may have not mentioned previously, they also have a very high gwp. So it's not like they just have ozone depletion potential.

They also actually have a high GWP as well. So removing those from the equation is critically important. And moving to alternatives. But it's also not as simple as that because you have to look at it strategically in large part, because if an interim solution isn't gonna get you the whole way and you're gonna put a 20 to 30 year asset into a building with a moderate GWP refrigerant, you may actually wanna wait.

So it may be this kind of hurry up and wait scenario. So it's really a matter of kind of measuring different variables and impacts that are associated with the overall building use asset, use life cycle, you know, leases, every, everything that, you know, you talk about on here quite frequently and the different variables and factors that play into decision making.

When, when you start to think about refrigerants and how you're gonna potentially. Move to those alternative solutions. But yeah, number [00:56:00] one, refrigerant management, number two, alternative refrigerants. Sounds really simple, but there's a lot more to it.

[00:56:04] James Dice: Absolutely. Before you move on to end of life, I wanted to ask you around finding leaks. So are, is there technology out there that allows these systems to be monitored? So the, the analogy I would use is when we have, you know, data coming off an HVAC system, we might look for chilled water leaking, or we might look for hot water leaking, or we might look for different ways in which that system is wasting energy.

But there's not necessarily like a sensor that's producing refrigerant leaks, right? There's pressure sensors sometimes, but not, those aren't necessarily always pulled into analytics software. They're not necessarily pulled into a building automation system. So what's sort of the state of the technology for, for using analytics to find these leaks?

[00:56:49] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. It's a fantastic question, and I think there are. There are a number of companies out there, including ours, that are thinking about this and and how we, how we move from effectively what we call a [00:57:00] diagnostic to a prognostic. And maybe not all the companies that I just referred to are thinking about that, but it's something that I think the industry needs to start thinking about.

And something that we've been working on and thinking about ourselves. Reality today is depending on the system application so whether it's a packaged RT or a, you know, refrigeration system, the level of sophistication in terms of the controls and what's being monitored, measured and controlled is, is gonna be very different.

Right. And the, you know, and a lot of that depends on obviously the age of, of the system as well. There are other subsystems, ie. Leak detection or what they call automatically leak detection systems that are, that are out there. Also, I think there's a very large misunderstanding, and I'll address both the points here in just a minute.

There's a large misunderstanding on. what automatic leak detection actually does. Automatic leak detection is effectively, I mean in the simplest of terms and there's different types of technologies, but in the simplest format, they are [00:58:00] identifying leaks and sending out a notification that a leak has been sentenced and, and there's different trigger rates, right, in terms of parts per million that they're sensing.

Remember that in almost all instances where refrigerants are being utilized, there's air movement , right? So whether it's an H V A C system or refrigeration system, there's a lot of air moving around, which means that even the best of these systems being deployed more often than not, aren't gonna sense the leak to the extent that they need to.

And even if they are able to, again, you're only identifying that there was a leak, not that you're actually like capturing it and fixing it or for that matter, measuring the amount of gas that's left the system. So it's not like you are, I think, just getting at like a meter or anything along those lines that's telling you.

How much gas is actually exited the operating refrigeration cycle. So now there are a number of technologies that are starting to be deployed to use algorithms based on deployed technologies, sensors, et cetera, that are meaning to identify [00:59:00] how, you know, can over a period of time start to estimate how much gas is in the system.

And also start to look at degradation and performance, for example, where whereby you can begin to identify when a leak may occur. And that's what I was getting to in terms of starting to look at prognostics ver versus diagnostics, is if you can start to build off of the diagnostic technologies that exist out there today, I think we can get to a point where we can ideally, and it depends on the system and application, but I think in my mind there is a technology solution that we can get to, or technology solutions, excuse me, that we can get to whereby we can use.

the available solutions out there today and build off of them to hopefully identify leaks or at least degradation or anomalies within these operating systems before a catastrophic or even less than catastrophic event occurs whereby refrigerant gas may exit the system. we're [01:00:00] not there yet. I'm hoping we're getting there soon.

[01:00:02] James Dice: I was gonna say, this is an area where I feel like the designers of automation systems can do a better job if they knew that what we were gonna do with this data, right? So a lot of times the data that we would need to do the diagnostic that you just said is in a chiller, or it is in a rooftop unit, but we're not actually pulling that data out into a place where it can be used.

It's just being used in the local controller. It's being used by the technician that's going to plug their laptop into that thing. But it's not actually able to be used in the fault detection diagnostics application most of the time. And so it's more about specifying, Hey, here's the exact data we want out of this machine.

And I feel like we can do a better job there.

[01:00:45] Tristam Coffin: Oh, 100% by our estimations. If you did it at the factory and you did it upfront, it would probably be, you know, a matter of adding in a couple hundred dollars worth of additional sensors and data points that you need to collect in order to start to get to a point where we were just [01:01:00] discussing.

[01:01:00] James Dice: totally. How about end of life then? Maybe, maybe real quick, cuz most of the people that are listening to this are not gonna care about this, but what happens after it leaves the.

[01:01:10] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. Well, so end of life, if you are actually recovering the refrigerants, which is the ideal ideal scenario is, you know, if, if you, uh, if you are able to properly address refrigerants at end of life, you would recover. And there's a few different options. There's reclaiming them which effectively means that you're, you're cleaning them and they can be used and in other applications you can recycle them by, by law, you can tech technically recycle them and in another asset within your portfolio that utilizes that same refrigerant.

But ideally, I think especially with the refrigerants that are out there today, ideally you're recovering them and destroying them and destroying them in the most efficient way possible based on you know, there's a few different destruction methodologies. Uh, I'll be the first to tell you I'm not an expert in the destruction methodologies.

There's plenty of folks out there. Well, not plenty, but there's a [01:02:00] handful of folks out there that can go into more detail on the actual destruction methodology. But they are removing, uh, you know, I would, I think it's upwards to 99% of the potential impact overall. And, and the great thing about that now is that like, and you know, there's plenty of arguments to be made about carbon offsets and, you know, and verified carbon credits and things along those lines.

But there are a number of methodologies out there today to actually certify the destruction of refrigerants. How do you repeat refrigerants specifically for verified carbon credits, which I'd argue if you're going out and buying them anyhow, uh, hopefully as the last, last resort in terms of your strategy that this is a perfect opportunity to, to utilize the destruction of an already challenged G H G.

To, to get you closer to your goals.

[01:02:44] James Dice: Fascinating. Okay, let's close out. My last question is around training and upskilling. So I mean, you educated 30 people in the room at Verge. I'm sure you're doing that all the time, but it feels like there's so many [01:03:00] different stakeholders here that need to understand that this is even a thing, which is why I wanted to have you go on the show first of all.

But even our audience is not gonna take this and go give it to all the HVAC techs out there and all the HVAC service contractors that are doing all of these you know, service calls for low refrigerant, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So what has to happen for us to sort of train and, and sort of upskill everyone to get to where we're making the right decisions and actions here?

[01:03:27] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a really good question. I mean, there's different levels of education, right? It's one, getting people to understand the issue that we're facing into, and we've been trying to do that in creative ways by calling, you know, refrigerants to. Ugly ducking, ugly duckling of the ghg you know, equation.

And also calling it, you know, the Cinderella of the carbon conversation because, you know, they haven't been invited to the ball yet. And so, you know, there's just generally that wider kind of like, Hey, how do we figure out how to get the attention to this? And again, really appreciate you for having me on today to, to, to chat about this lesser known subject.

And then there's, you're absolutely right. Then there's the, call it the [01:04:00] technician base. And the necessity for folks that are working on these systems to have a better understanding of the critical importance of the work that they do. Unfortunately, we're facing into a, a really big challenge right now.

You know, not, not just the climate crisis, but the people that are gonna be a part of the solution. The average age of an H V A C refrigeration technician is 55 years old. The last stat I saw which means that people are retiring out of this space. The good news there is, is that. There is a tension to this and the industry is recognizing it.

The question is whether or not they can recognize it at the scale and PACE that is necessary. The other exciting piece is a lot of these advanced H V A C R technologies that I've been alluding to or referring to, especially naturals and, and CO2 specifically, require more electronic components and controls and so forth.

And I mean, a lot of people oftentimes use this example, but I'll use it as cliche as it may be. But we really need to move in the direction of where the automotive industry has moved, right. As it relates to these systems whereby you know, there's, and, and you actually, [01:05:00] there was actually an article that came out from Emerson, I think earlier, earlier today, talking about the standardization of of, of these equipment components.

And standardization is gonna be critically important, but as is being able to run diagnostics on these systems so that you know the next kids that are coming into this generation, what do they want to be able to do? They want to be able to solve the issue on their phone, not have to go and turn a wrench.

you know, at a grocery store or, you know, on top of a, you know, 30 story building, commercial building, or something along those lines, right? They want to be at least able to see how the system is operating from afar, ideally on their, their smart device. And and begin to hopefully, you know, either solve the issue there or at least be able to diagnose it and diagnose it and make the, the longer term fix more, more efficient or be able to accomplish it more effectively.

We're not quite there yet. That's kind of, especially in the space that we're talking about. I know in a lot of the other smart building spaces, it may be, we may be a little bit closer, I'd argue we got a long runway to walk down, to get to where we need to be in the refrigeration H V A C industry. And and [01:06:00] that's why it's so important that everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, you know, start to come in and think about how we can solve this, this problem.

And it's not just, you know, responsibility of, in my, in my mind, the OEMs and the H V A C space or. The existing service technicians, it's folks that are thinking about smart building technologies and AI and ml and things that, you know, are far outside of my expertise that can be deployed in this space to not only help solve the climate crisis, but get to the, the actual, the grittiness of the issue, which is we need folks to just can better service these pieces of equipment so that these gases don't end up in the atmosphere in the first place.

[01:06:38] James Dice: Totally. Yeah. This whole time I've been just thinking about all the opportunities here. You could say we have a long way to go, which is true. Uh, but there's just a ton of opportunity for people to come in and, and solve problems here in this space. Let's close out Tristan, with some, some carve outs. So, or is there any books or podcasts or other sort of links we can share with the [01:07:00] audience that, that have had a major, major impact on you

[01:07:02] Tristam Coffin: Yeah, it's a, it's, it's a great question and I, I guess, I'll, I'll end by saying, you know, part of the urgency for me is I have a, I have a five-year-old and six month old, and I've been working in this space long before I ever had kids. But I think the joke there is is I, I read a lot of Dr. Seus these days and my, my son happens to be obsessed with, uh, the Lorax, which is, is a good thing.

So the, if, if, you know, the kids themselves aren't a, aren't an important reminder of the urgency of addressing like the climate crisis, certainly the Lorax is a, is a good secondary reminder as well, but more on topic you know, I'm constantly looking and hunting for new information. It's in part how I, uh, came onto your podcast, which again, I really appreciate you having me on today.

But I definitely encourage some folks to go and read the recent heat pump report. That was issued by I e a. It's a very, very long document, but I think it's important. Good news is, is there's finally mention of refrigerants. You know, maybe not as much mention as, as I would like or we would like but at least there're mentioned in there.

So that's, that's one. The other [01:08:00] is, you know, I, I don't know that I started off with, you know, kind of the, the high level facts around refrigerants. So if you've waited till the end and just started listening, now, you know, refrigerants are, are recognized as a 0.5 degree Celsius opportunity. And if you total that up across refrigerant, uh, management and alternative refrigerants the estimation is about, it's a two hundred billion ton opportunity that we need to face into on lifecycle refrigerant management.

One interesting report that was recently issued by eia, NRDC and I G S D I mentioned earlier, it's called the 90 billion Ton Opportunity is definitely, definitely worth a read, even if you just read the, the synopsis or the blog reports that were put out on it. Very interesting. You know, I think the other other thing that's caught my attention and not to take a a dark turn by any means is the, the great filter theory that was outlined by NASA here recently, I think in the last month or so about, you know, why we haven't interacted with other intelligent life forms.

And effectively, you know, the, the theory that they've come out with is that other intelligent life forms have effectively faced into [01:09:00] catastrophic events. I e things like climate change that have wiped them off. They're respective planets. So not, like I said, don't wanna take a dark turn, but I think the really thing that's attracted me to that is the issues that we're facing into are solvable.

We just need to put more attention on them. And I am 100% optimistic that, that we have the ingenuity and culture and values that we can, we can shift to and start to not only deploy the technologies, but one of the, the younger speakers at Verge and I'm gonna forget her name, so forgive me, but. She said something that was really interesting to me.

She said, you know, it's not that we don't have the technologies, it's that we don't have the willingness to shift the culture and the paradigm to meet the demands, to address the, you know, the climate crisis that we're, that we're all facing into. So, you know, it's, it's both a cultural shift and it's a technology shift, and I'm optimistic we can do it.

And, you know, the great news is, is like I said, refrigerants, lesser known, but are [01:10:00] still a huge opportunity. And our solutions out there, like I said, 0.5 degrees Celsius opportunity by the end of the century, if we start focusing on refrigerant management, if we start focusing on alternative refrigerants, and again, we're gonna face into technology issues, but bringing the ingenuity together to do that, we have a real opportunity to solve the problem.

[01:10:19] James Dice: Amazing. Amazing. Yeah, so super, super inspir. , I'll share a couple carve outs as well, so I don't always share on every episode

[01:10:27] Tristam Coffin: I love it. I love

to hear it.

[01:10:28] James Dice: out of them. One is a book called After Cooling. I don't know if you've read this.

[01:10:32] Tristam Coffin: I've heard

of it. I've not

[01:10:33] James Dice: the author's, Eric Dean Wilson. It's about 400 pages. I'm about 25% of the way through, but it breaks down a lot around this refrigerant problem.

It's actually where it starts. So it's the part that I have, have read so far going through the history that you talked about. So for anyone that wants to go deeper into that after Cooling would be a good book to, to read. I'll probably finish it over Christmas whenever I, I take a few weeks off. And, and that's my other carve out as well.

It's, it's [01:11:00] what I like to do in the last few weeks of the year. I've done this every year since starting Nexus, where I take a few weeks off and like pick one or two topics to go deep, deep, deep, deep, deep into . And I, I think what I'm gonna do this year is I'm just blown away by this chat, G P T. Ai, uh, thing that has, you know, kind of taken the world by storm in the last few weeks.

I'm, I'm fascinated everyone should check it out. I'm fascinated for obvious reasons, which is I make my living, educating and blogging and producing content, and you can literally, like today I did a prompt around you know, write me a blog post on the merits of the independent data layer for smart buildings.

And it just like popped out five paragraphs that were like, they weren't, they weren't great. Like they weren't amazing. They weren't cutting edge, they weren't innovative, but it was a good summary of probably what's on the internet about that acronym that many people give me credit for making up. Like, it kind of sounded like I [01:12:00] was writing it a little bit, right?

[01:12:01] Tristam Coffin: out you may have James, you may have

[01:12:03] James Dice: super fascinating. Everyone should go check it out. It's got me wondering, like, okay, what are the. What are the unique things that I bring? What are the unique things that Nexus brings in terms of creating content, uh, in a world where you can just type a prompt like that and get an entire blog post in 10 seconds?

So,

[01:12:24] Tristam Coffin: No, it's,

[01:12:25] James Dice: fascinating stuff going on

right now.

[01:12:27] Tristam Coffin: fascinating. Extremely fascinating.

[01:12:29] James Dice: Well, Tristan, thanks so much for coming on the show. Uh, this has been super interesting, uh, uh, a little bit depressing, but also inspiring at the same time, so appreciate it.

[01:12:39] Tristam Coffin: Yeah. My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, James.

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