On November 3, 2022, PA Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 123 of 2022 into law (formerly known as SB2079) amending Section 901 of the PA Construction Code Act (Act 45 of 1999).

The PA Construction Code Act (PCCA) has been amended to allow the air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration (AHR) industry to utilize new refrigerants recently listed by US EPA as acceptable in accordance with Section 612 of the Clean Air Act that are not currently listed as acceptable in current PA UCC regulations.

CFC refrigerants that were causing depletion of the earth atmosphere’s protective ozone layer were replaced by HFC refrigerants many years ago. It has now been determined that, although the ozone layer is “healing”, the HFC refrigerants are a significant contributor to “greenhouse gasses”. Consequently, the US EPA is phasing out HFC use in various AHR equipment types and listing new refrigerants with lower global warming potential.

Some regulations and referenced standards pertaining to the new refrigerants appear in the 2021 International Mechanical Code, but necessary code changes to fully incorporate these alternate refrigerants will not occur until publication of the 2024 I-Codes. That fact, combined with the PCCA-mandated waiting period from the publication date of new code editions before the public comment and RAC review process may begin, triggered this legislative action.

The UCC regulatory exemption for certain refrigerants is now in effect. The exemption with “sunset” when the UCC regulations update process incorporates the 2024 code changes, potentially in 2028.