World Refrigeration Day 2022 – Cooling matters!

World Refrigeration Day 2022 – Cooling matters!

Is there a safer way to keep us, and our food and medicines cool? Amidst the climate emergency, what can be done to minimise the risks posed by harmful refrigerants as the need to cool buildings increases? 

To celebrate the wonderful world of cooling and mark World Refrigeration Day 2022, this blog considers the importance of refrigeration and HVAC in daily life and discusses some of its issues, such as the harmful nature of some refrigerants and how to prevent them being emitted.

Have a cool read!

What is World Refrigeration Day?

World Refrigeration Day (WRD) is an international awareness campaign that takes place on June 26 each year to raise the profile of the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump sector. 

Why? WRD focuses attention on the significant role that the refrigeration industry and its technology play in modern life and society.

How did WRD come into being? World Refrigeration Day began in 2019. It was the idea of refrigeration consultant Stephen Gill, former president of the Institute of Refrigeration in the UK.

Each year, World Refrigeration Day has a theme. This year’s theme is ‘Cooling Matters’. Gill explains, “Cooling Matters will tell the story of how our wellbeing depends upon cooling and how cooling technology choices can safeguard the well-being of future generations.”

Fact file: The number of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump systems in operation worldwide is around 5 billion!

The importance of cooling: why do we need it?

Many people outside of the cooling industry probably don’t have much of an idea about how much refrigeration matters in daily life, except perhaps for using a refrigerator to keep food cool at home. But cooling matters hugely in so many ways.

Fact file: In 1903, the New York Stock Exchange was one of the first buildings to install an air conditioning system.

It is vital to many aspects of everyday life, from safeguarding food and medicines to keeping data centres at optimum temperatures. Many different industries need refrigeration or cool environments. This includes transportation (via road, rail, sea and air, for the distribution of food, medicines and vaccines), hospitality, food retail, tech, healthcare, laboratories and pharmaceuticals.

Cooling is also important for homes and office buildings, especially in hotter climates. There are some places in the world where it would be impossible to live in the summer months without air conditioning. As temperatures around the world begin to rise, cooling of buildings will become increasingly relevant to prevent the migration of communities.

Fact file: The first person to think up the idea of an air conditioning unit was Willis Carrier, who worked for a publishing company. He came up with the idea when the heat in his office caused ink to run and paper to wrinkle.

And with the world’s population growing, the issue of food waste needs to be addressed. Rajan Rajendran, representing ASHRAE’s Refrigeration Committee and the Global Food Cold Chain Council, said, “Due to population growth, the world will need 60% more food by 2050. The unfortunate reality is much of the world’s food supply is lost due to waste. Increasing refrigeration in emerging economies is required to meet this growing demand. Some 475 million tons of food currently lost could be saved by wider application of refrigeration.”

The harmful impact of cooling

Planet Earth on fire

But unfortunately, many refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damage the ozone layer, while others are potent greenhouse gases.

The harmful nature of existing refrigerants has caused the International Energy Agency (IEA) to warn about the future use of air conditioning. As the climate gets hotter, the demand for cooling in buildings will increase.

So, while there are 3.6 billion cooling units in use today, by 2050 that number is expected to rise to about 9.5 billion. Ayman Eltalouny, of UNEP OzonAction, asserts “If left unchecked, emissions from cooling appliances are expected to double by 2030.”

Many buildings of the future have yet to be constructed. It is imperative that we choose the best available cooling technologies for both new buildings and for retrofitting existing ones.

World Refrigeration Day is a reminder that all sectors must work together to ensure low emitting refrigeration and air conditioning systems are readily available.

Legislation and F-Gas compliance

Most refrigeration and air-conditioning systems (RACs), including heat pumps, contain hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs). These are fluorinated greenhouse gases, referred to as F-gases. 

Regulation in the EU and the UK aims to reduce their environmental impact. The F-Gas register ensures a safer future for the environment through the proper installation, servicing and management of gases. 

Suppliers of refrigeration, HVAC or heat pump equipment must be F-Gas certified and registered. It means that all of that supplier’s engineers who install, commission, repair and service equipment must hold relevant qualifications.

As we celebrate World Refrigeration Day, we must also be mindful of the consequences of the potentially harmful nature of refrigerants and how to eliminate or at least minimise their impacts.

Fact file: The law is now being rigorously enforced. The UK Environment Agency recently fined a company £1.1 million for breaching F-Gas regulations.

The importance of maintenance

HVAC engineer performing maintenance on cooling system

Unless regularly cleaned and maintained, many cooling devices, such as air-conditioning, can be harmful to health. Regular maintenance allows potential problems to be picked up before they run into expensive repairs. Too many dangers can occur without preventative maintenance, and energy efficiency can diminish. With regular maintenance, life of refrigeration equipment and air-conditioning can be extended by years. 

Maintenance is important for cost, but there is also a much wider purpose.

Representing ASHRAE’s Refrigeration Committee and the Global Food Cold Chain Council, Rajan Rajendran says, “How RAC systems are maintained and operated is one of the most important actions the world can take to address climate change.” 

Fact file: More than 15 million people are employed worldwide in the refrigeration sector!

The role of data in a safer, cooler future

As the role of data analytics expands in the sector, operational data from systems is being used to drive improvements, maintenance and business outcomes.

Charles Larkin Director of Data and Analytics, Cold Chain at Emerson Electrical, says:

“When considering the role of data analytics in … refrigeration, it is important to understand that data should be viewed as an entry point for discovering larger issues and digging deeper to find root causes. 

“Historically, the management of food safety QC programs has relied on paper-based recording and tracking methods, but these can be cumbersome to maintain, inaccurate and difficult to transform into usable insights.

“Performance data patterns in refrigeration units can be unpredictable, chaotic and difficult to interpret. By capturing this data over extended periods of time and processing it through advanced analytics techniques, we are able to identify patterns in condensing unit system health and make recommendations.”

Data is also vital for F-Gas compliance to prevent any unwanted emissions. Legislation demands that movement of refrigerant gas must be tracked and recorded in an official logbook where the system charge is equivalent to 5 tonnes or more of CO2. Back-office systems must show all work completed on equipment. 

Software in the HVAC industry is becoming indispensable, especially when it comes to F-Gas compliance. While paper-based systems are still feasible, it is a time-consuming way of working, and as has been seen from the recent fines, any mistakes can be costly.

Relevant software, QR code Apps for tracking assets and equipment, and data analytics all have a significant role to play in securing a safer, cooler future.


Cooling matters much more than we realise. Our future depends on advanced cooling technologies that will help us adapt to environmental conditions, while at the same time protect the environment and meet sustainability requirements.

Governments and industry leaders must make sure we use and maintain refrigeration sustainably and responsibly. Employers and property owners make the right choices for cooling homes and work environments in the future.

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