Category: Industry News

HARDI v. EPA: Court strikes down heavily opposed cylinder ban and QR code tracking requirements

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 21, 2023– On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Heating Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) et al. by striking down provisions of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) allocation rule that would ban the use of non-refillable cylinders and require QR code tracking of refrigerant cylinders.

In 2020, the EPA was directed under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act) to phase down the production and import of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are chemical compounds typically used as refrigerants in air-conditioning and refrigeration. Since it was first enacted, HARDI and the rest of the HVACR industry supported the AIM Act and continue to support the HFC phase-down and the rulemaking process EPA uses to implement it.

In 2021, as a response to the directive, EPA proposed the Phasedown Rule. Among other provisions, the rule included aproposed ban on non-refillable cylinders and required QR code tracking for individual cylinders.

Three trade associations, HARDI, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC), along with Worthington Industries, a domestic manufacturer of refillable and disposable cylinders, filed petitions against EPA challenging the non-refillable cylinder ban and the requirement to track individual cylinders through the supply chain. On Tuesday, the court agreed with these challenges, and the EPA has been ordered to vacate these portions of the allocation rule. The EPA is allowed to appeal the decision.

A third challenge to the allocation rule, filed by a separate petitioner, would have eliminated the need for allocations to import HFC blends. This challenge was rejected by the courts, a decision that HARDI supports.

HARDI CEO Talbot Gee celebrated the decision, saying, “This confirms HARDI’s role in protecting wholesale distribution. Since 2021 when the rule was first proposed, we have sought feedback from our members about these provisions, and overwhelmingly, our membership rejected the need for refillable cylinders and a complex tracking system. HARDI has had a positive, multi-decade relationship with the EPA, and now we look forward to continuing to work with them on the successful implementation of the AIM Act.”

HARDI, ACCA, and PHCC were represented by Jonathan Martel, Ethan Shenkman, and Stephen Wirth of Arnold & Porter. The lawsuit argued that EPA lacked the legal authority to implement the refillable cylinder and QR-code rules. In the final decision, Judge Justin Walker noted, “We agree. The EPA has not identified a provision of the AIM Act giving it the authority to require refillable cylinders or a QR-code tracking system.”

EPA argued that the rules were necessary to prevent illegal imports of HFCs, and the agency could derive authority from the phrase “shall ensure” existing in the statute. However, the EPA has already demonstrated that the QR code tracking mandate and non-refillable cylinder ban are unnecessary to interdict illegal imports of HFCs. In 2022, in partnership with Customs and Border Patrol, EPA stopped HFCs equaling 889,000 metric tons of GWP from entering the country without the tracking or cylinder provisions in place. EPA is already well equipped to stop illegal imports without operationally burdening the entire HVACR supply chain.

HARDI’s Director of Government Affairs, Alex Ayers, commented, “Since the passage of the AIM Act in 2020, the EPA has been diligently working to get the regulations in place for our industry to phase down the use of HFCs, but with the speed of these regulations comes bad ideas that will damage our members. We continue to fight back with all of our available resources to stop these bad ideas from being implemented. HARDI is happy to see the court agree that the EPA exceeded its authority in banning non-refillable cylinders and requiring the tracking of every cylinder used at consumers’ homes and businesses. HARDI and the entire HVACR industry remain supportive of the HFC phase down, and we look forward to continuing to work with the EPA in achieving the goals of the AIM Act.”

HARDI acknowledges that the outcome was made possible primarily due to the support of its Legal Defense Fund.“ While it’s unfortunate to need a legal defense fund, it’s a testament to the association’s leadership, members, and team that HARDI can fund such important protections of our members’ interests,” explained Rhonda Wight, Chairwoman of the HARDI Board of Directors and President and CEO of Refrigeration Sales Corp. “The HARDI legal team did an exceptional job arguing the importance of federal agencies remaining within the bounds of the authorities granted to them by Congress. ”

The association is continually grateful to its members and the HVACR community for its support of the fund, its support of the association, and for backing its advocacy programs.


HARDI (Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International) is the single voice of wholesale distribution within the North American and Latin American HVACR markets.

A non-profit association, HARDI serves its members through government affairs and advocacy efforts, market intelligence and benchmarking, training programs, and world-class events. HARDI proudly represents more than 460 distributor members and their 5,000 + branch locations, and close to 500 suppliers, manufacturer representatives, and service vendors. HARDI Distributor members serve installation and service/replacement contractors in residential and commercial markets, as well as commercial/industrial and institutional maintenance staffs. HARDI Affiliate members market, distribute, and support heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration equipment, parts and supplies. Learn more at

Ruud Contractor App

A vital tool for Ruud contractors is the Ruud Contractor App. With the changes handed down from the Department Of Energy, Ruud was faced with a decision to make. To get more efficiency out of the unit you either need to add more coil, or more technology. Ruud chose the technology, completely redesigning their units to integrate with Bluetooth technology.

Improved Technology

Ruud set themselves up to be successful in the future with the redesign. The new “M1” equipment has not grown in size, unlike the competition. In fact, with the new technology, their footprint has actually decreased overall. With updated control boards, the dip switches have gone to the wayside. This is where the Ruud Contractor App comes into play.

Commissioning New Units

The M1 units will be commissioned by either the EcoNet thermostat or the Ruud Contractor App. The app connects directly to the contractor’s MyRuud account. With built-in diagnostics and parts breakdowns, the app can communicate with the equipment (water heating, heat pump, gas furnace, air conditioner, etc) and tell the contractor exactly what is wrong. If there is an issue with the HVAC system, the contractor can handle the warranty directly through the app as well.

Getting Started

To get started with the app you don’t need to be a Pro Partner, but it certainly helps. You just need to have a MyRuud account and know your account number. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. If you need help getting set up, or have questions about the Contractor App, please reach out to your Webb Supply representative for assistance!


US Regulatory Guide

The Department Of Energy or DOE has rolled out new regulations for energy efficiency and emissions that take effect in 2023. These national regulatory changes impact the HVAC industry by making significant changes to the way efficiency requirements are calculated. Since Webb Supply is located in the North Zone, this article will focus on the changes in this region.

Minimum Efficiency Requirements

The new regulations from the U.S. Department Of Energy are aimed at reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions by establishing minimum efficiency requirements. Starting January 1st, 2023, any single-phase air conditioner or heat pump greater than <65K BTU/H will have new efficiency levels. The 2023 changes in regulation apply on a national level unless superseded by a regional standard. The regional standards only apply in the Southeast and Southwest regions, and the difference between the national and regional standards how they are enforced for compliance.

How do the DOE Efficiency Standards Impact The North Region?

The regulations were rolled out before the Inflation Reduction Act was passed. The goal of these changes is to reduce dependency on fossil fuels while increasing energy conservation standards. Due to the seasonal changes in the northern states, the regulatory requirements are a little less strict. The DOE is allowing manufacturers and distributors to sell through existing equipment inventory manufactured before 2023 without being penalized for noncompliance. When the old equipment is sold out, HVAC distributors must move to the new Appendix M1 units.

Image of a map depicting the North Zone defined by the Department Of Energy

Appendix M1: A New System of Measurement

A provision in the “Energy Independence and Security Act Of 2007” established a precedent in which the DOE reviews testing procedures every seven years. This same provision from the DOE established appendix “M” which implemented a “Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps”. Appendix M also introduced the efficiency standards of SEER Ratings, EER, and HSPF. With the constant improvement in technology, this rating system quickly became outdated. in 2017 the U.S. Department Of Energy began the process to reevaluate energy savings which is what helped develop the new minimum efficiency standards presented in Appendix M1 or just “M1”.

What Changes Are Coming?

The industry standard ratings we know (SEER, EER, and HSPF) are getting a facelift. After January 1st, 2023 these ratings will be known as EER2, HSPF2, and SEER2 ratings. The metrics are changing to better reflect the field conditions of the installations in today’s homes. The new metrics will apply to all single-phase air conditioners and system heat pumps that are <65k BTU/H.

Understanding Compliance in The North Region

For The North, compliance is based on the date of manufacture. If the HVAC equipment (central air conditioner, heat pumps, furnaces, etc) was part of an AHRI-rated system match and met energy efficiency requirements on the day they were produced, the product is still considered to be compliant. Products with a manufacture date after January 1st, 2023 are subject to different efficiency ratings and new test procedures. Here’s how the new equipment must be rated.

Table explaining the 2023 Department Of Energy Regulations for Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners using the new test procedures for SEER2 and HSPF2.

How Does This Effect Light Commercial Applications?

Commercial single-phase air conditioners and heat pumps <65k BTU/HR (typically those in the 3-, 4- and 5-ton range) follow the residential standards. Commercial systems ≥65k BTU/HR also have new minimum efficiency levels going into effect in 2023 on a national basis, with compliance based on date of manufacture. Note that while the metrics of IEER and COP are not changing, IEER and COP minimum efficiency levels are increasing from DOE 2018 standard. EER requirements remain unchanged. See the table below for the 2023 requirements. At this time, DOE has not issued a new efficiency standard or metric that applies to the category of small 3-phase systems, 5-ton and below, but these are under consideration.

Table of 2023 Efficiency Standards for Commercial air conditioners and Heat Pumps in the north zone.


The DOE and environmental protection agency are set up to be aggressive in enforcing these regulations. While the North is set up in the proverbial “catbird seat” for the time being, noncompliance can result in significant penalties.

The Inflation Reduction Act – How it impacts the HVAC Industry

Inflation Reduction Act

The HVAC industry has been changing over the past few years. In early 2022 the Department Of Energy (D.O.E) announced the efficiency and refrigerant changes rolling out in 2023 and 2025. The Inflation Reduction Act (I.R.A) is the latest facelift to the industry and it has some significant impacts on how distributors and installers think.

What is the Inflation Reduction Act?

The inflation reduction act was passed into law on August 16, 2022. The law was introduced as a bill in 2020 under the name of the “Build Back Better Act” which was focused on deficit reduction, lowering prescription drug costs, and promoting clean energy. When it passed in August of 2022, the law became the largest piece of federal legislation to address climate change. The new law allocates over 200 billion dollars for energy projects. That’s where the HVAC Industry comes in.

How This Impacts HVAC Professionals

The overall goal of the I.R.A. is to combat climate change and carbon emissions by promoting renewable energy. This means the industry will see a reduction in combustion units like natural gas furnaces and a push to install more energy-efficient units like heat pumps. To help facilitate the reduction of emissions and energy costs, the bill allows for incentives to help mitigate out-of-pocket costs for businesses and homeowners. Two different types of rebates will be available and we break them down below.

How To Leverage The Inflation Reduction Act to get more business

Heat pumps are by no means new to the industry. Already popular in the southern states, a heat pump is a great alternative to a natural gas furnace or Air Conditioner. Powered by electricity, heat pumps have both a heating and cooling element and can heat and cool houses with one unit. With sustainability and making money stretch being increasingly important to the American people, heat pumps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Added benefits to switching units are improved indoor air quality, cost savings, and improved safety.

The HOMES Rebate Program

The Homes Rebate Program was introduced through the I.R.A. and helps homeowners manage costs while reducing energy production. This program follows two different models: Modeled performance, and Measured Performance. Household eligibility for the tax credit is defined as low-income to moderate-income houses, and the rebate amount is based on the energy cost savings measured after retrofitting the units. After installation, the minimum energy efficiency rating should be at 35% savings.
While the language in the I.R.A. sets up the process and rebate amounts, there has been nothing set in stone. The new law specifically allows the programs to be enforced on a state level, leaving the tax credits and rebate amounts in limbo until ratified by each state.

The Inflation reduction Act is still being rolled out. Webb Supply is here to be a resource our customers can rely on. Be sure to check for the most up-to-date news regarding the HVAC industry.