In addition to mere compliance with F Gas and EN378, the adoption of a leak detection system brings with it significant benefits and these should be at the forefront of the planning process to ensure that these are maximised.

In terms of cost justification, a leak detection system may appear to some, on face value, no more than a relatively expensive way to fulfil their legislative requirements and huge logistical headache. However, the potential cost savings in energy and refrigerant gas consumption alone make the average return on investment period much shorter than most would expect. Obviously this will vary from site to site but we have all visited sites that see refrigerant gas loss adding up to literally tens of thousands of pounds per annum and very aware of the often quoted ‘15% loss of refrigerant results in a 100% increase in energy consumption’.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits for the retail sector is that of consumer perception. We live in an age where public facing companies are under increasing scrutiny from the general public and environmental groups to rubber stamp their commitment to environmental issues. With this in mind, the incorporation of leak detection as part of F Gas compliance and a wider commitment to reducing their carbon footprint can only be viewed as a positive step. It is clear that the adoption of a leak detection system can bring significant benefits, not only in terms of compliance but also in terms of public profile, protection for personnel and customers and ultimately, for the bottom line – a ‘win-win’ situation if ever there was one!

REAL savings from reduced leakage Nearly two years on from the initial research and investigations which underpinned the REAL Zero approach, the IOR has conducted follow up analysis of what has been learned and what actions have taken place. The collated results are very encouraging.

Follow up activity conducted in March 2011 focused on seeking updated information from the original refrigeration equipment sites surveyed 12 to 18 months ago. The sites were asked for information on refrigerant use and actions carried out as a result of their work with REAL Zero.

In total 27 systems at 10 of the original 24 sites were reviewed. Feedback showed that the REAL Zero concept has changed practice on these sites and as a result there has been significant reduction in leakage related to that equipment.

The carbon savings realised equates to nearly 8,000 tonnes CO2(e) per annum, based on a net reduction in refrigerant leakage of 4,900 kg over a corresponding 12 month period. This represents an impressive 43% reduction in annual leakage, averaged across the 10 sites.

“REAL Zero originally projected around 25% improvement in refrigerant use across the sample sites, so these results at 43% have really exceeded all expectation. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still more that can and must be done to reduce emissions. The IOR has always seen REAL Zero as a process rather than a one off initiative.

The industry is making massive steps in recognising the financial, practical and environmental benefits of refrigerant containment and these results show its commitment to achieving even further improvements in the future.” Prof Graeme Maidment F Inst R, REAL Zero Steering Group Chairman.