• The licence will complement, not replace, existing schemes.
    The licence will complement, not replace, existing schemes.

OzoneAction in partnership with the Airconditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) have launched the global Refrigerant Driving Licence (RDL).

OzoneAction is part of the United Nations Environment Programme and the licence will help governments ensure that refrigeration and air conditioning technicians have the skills and knowledge to safely handle alternative refrigerants.

It is meant to complement, and not replace, existing national technician qualification schemes.

It also offers a ready-made and structured framework for countries that currently do not yet have a national technician certification programme, but wish to start assessing the skill levels of their RAC workforce.

Global acceptance is one of the key benefits of the RDL. A team of international experts guide the effort. An Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of the leading HVACR associations provide global acceptance.

Head of UNEP OzoneAction, JimCurlin, said training is incomplete without the next step that verifies knowledge and skills have been acquired.

“The issue of certification has been highlighted as a critical need by the Multilateral Fund’s Executive Committee, the Refrigeration Technical Options Committee reports, the Open-Ended Working Group and Meeting of the Parties discussions,” he said.

“The RDL has been funded by the Multilateral Fund through OzonAction’s Compliance Assistance Programme.”

The RDL is a turnkey qualification programme consisting of two exams covering small RAC applications.

An online exam conducted by AHRI tests knowledge of skills and tasks. A proctored practical exam conducted by the European Association of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Contractors (AREA) tests candidates’ hands on performance.

Technicians receiving passing scores on both exams receive a personalized RDL certificate and wallet card.

Topics covered in the exams are Types of Refrigerants, Tools, Fabricating Copper Tubing, Evacuation and Charging, Refrigerant Circuit Tools, Recovery/recycling/recycling machines, Brazing, and Safety.

“In the world of next-generation refrigerants, which include flammable gases, every single technician should be trained on best and safe practices, and each one of those who have been trained should be confirmed to have acquired the necessary knowledge and skills,” Curlin said.

RDL’s objective is to help countries develop an HVACR workforce which:

  • Reduces safety incidents, which protects technicians, end users, and the public.
  • Prevents unintentional refrigerant releases that deplete the Ozone Layer and contribute to climate change.
  • Provides better equipment performance.
  • Reduces costs due to improved energy efficiency.
  • Ensures governments and National Ozone Units (NOUs) that technicians have competencies to support completion of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) phase-out and start a safe Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase-down.

Technicians taking the RDL exams should be adequately trained or experienced, especially in the proper handling of flammable refrigerants, prior to taking the tests.

In its initial phase, the RDL is offered specifically to NOUs so that they can include it as part of their phase-out and phase-down projects proposals under the Multilateral Fund.

The deadline for NOUs to express interest in setting up the RDL program in their countries is 30 April 2024. NOUs should consult www.RDLprogram.org for more information.