Refrigerants emissions and leakage zero. Minimising leakage and carbon emissions.


REAL Zero is a project carried out by the institute of Refrigeration, with the support of the Carbon Trust.

Refrigeration systems are key to many businesses’ performance. They can’t afford to ignore the risk of reduced reliability and efficiency if systems are allowed to leak. But it can be difficult to persuade end users to take preventative action.

Equipment operators now have a legal obligation to repair their leaks because refrigeration systems that require regular topping up are also causing significant damage to the environment. Do your customers know that, if released to atmosphere, most refrigerants can have a global warming potential over 3,000 times that of carbon dioxide?

The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning sector supported by the Carbon Trust is working across all sectors of business and industry, to help achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions due to refrigerant leakage from installed systems. The Institute of Refrigeration led initiative is building a clearer understanding of where and why leakage occurs as well as how to prevent it.

Our conclusions are based on detailed site investigations on a wide range of equipment in operation. This valuable knowledge is being rolled out amongst equipment users, designers and service contracting companies so that UK industry can take a lead in developing a zero tolerance approach to refrigerant leakage – the project is knows as REAL Zero!



The continuing difficulties of reducing refrigerant leakage highlight the need for refrigeration engineers to have additional skills to advise equipment users on ways to reduce refrigeration leakage. These additional skills will help engineers to:

  • Survey and leak test existing plant and identify areas where improvements can be made to reduce leak potential for example by replacing certain components and specifying an appropriate leak test regime.
  • Analyse the environmental and financial impact of refrigerant leakage and understand how to make a business case for making improvements, to reduce leaks.
  • Advise how to minimise leakage in new and existing plant through appropriate design, installation and maintenance.
  • Outline legal requirements and responsibilities such as those under the F Gas and ODS regulations, and maintenance.
  • Audit compliance and maintenance on a site by site basis and prepare structured and professional reports.

Any competent service and maintenance refrigeration engineer who is site aware and has considerable practical experience working with a range of RAC systems could carry out these tasks with some guidance and training support.

Training material takes the form of four self study booklets plus the REAL Zero refrigerant leakage and monitoring and carbon emissions tools.

Cooling Awards Recognition

The refrigeration industry made three awards to REAL Zero at the Cooling Awards in September 2009.

REAL Zero wins Cooling Industry Award Gold!

The Cooling Awards Gold Award recognises those who make a significant impact on the environmental performance of the industry. The judges awarded this to the REAL Zero project in a commendation reproduced below:

REAL Zero was conceived last year with a team of experts to work on improving understanding of the impact of leakage, and providing advice on addressing it. The Carbon Trust recognised its potential to reduce carbon emissions and together with Marks & Spencer, BOC and HRP, funded the development of a larger project.

REAL Zero now encompasses a comprehensive range of elements, taking in practical guidance on reducing leaks; tools that can measure the impact of leakage in business terms; training courses, and interactive website and an ongoing dialogue within industry.

The achievements should not be underestimated. By talking in terms the industry can understand, REAL Zero has been able to get its message across to all levels of industry, and it is creating real and lasting changes in the way that industry works – both to address leaks and to prevent them.

REAL Zero also won the Training programme of the year and Marketing initiative of the year.