The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) has announced that it is co-hosting a free event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where refrigeration technicians will be provided with hands-on training in CO2 (R744) and propane (R290) systems.

The Natural Refrigerant Training Summit is scheduled to take place March 19–21. Steamfitters Local 449, a Pittsburgh-area trade union representing workers in the HVAC&R industry, will co-host the event.

According to a statement from the NASRC, a California-based nonprofit, the summit is open to union and non-union refrigeration technicians and will offer comprehensive training on the latest natural refrigerant technologies. Food retailers and HVAC&R students and instructors can also attend.

Hands-on training

The three-day event will include opportunities for hands-on training from a diverse group of refrigeration manufacturers and industry experts. Training providers include Hillphoenix, Zero Zone and Copeland, which will bring its mobile CO2 training unit to the event.

“We are fortunate to have the top refrigeration trainers at these summits,” said Danielle Wright, Executive Director of the NASRC.

Rusty Walker, longtime Corporate Training Manager for Hillphoenix, recently joined the NASRC as Training Director.

Sessions will cover a range of topics from the fundamentals of CO2 and propane self-contained cases to micro-distributed systems and equipment installation and maintenance.

The summit will also include an exhibition of the latest natural refrigerant-based products and services and two networking opportunities, one for industry professionals and one for HVAC&R students and faculty. The student networking session will provide an opportunity to explore apprenticeships and work-based learning and employment opportunities, according to the NASRC.

A second NASRC training summit is scheduled to take place in Irwindale, California, April 30–May 2. The event will be co-hosted by utility provider Southern California Edison and will include sessions on CO2– and propane-based refrigeration.

The NASRC hosted its first Natural Refrigerant Training Summits last year. The events took place in April in Irwindale and in November in St. Louis, Missouri.

Addressing technician shortage

To support its main goal of expanding the adoption of natural refrigerants in U.S. supermarkets, the NASRC works to develop the HVAC&R workforce through the recruitment, training and retention of refrigeration technicians.

“Investing in technician training and student recruiting is critical to the future success of this essential industry,” said Wright.

“Investing in technician training and student recruiting is critical to the future success of this essential industry.”

Danielle Wright, NASRC

A 2023 assessment conducted by the NASRC found that the nationwide shortage of commercial refrigeration technicians is “disrupting essential operations, creating a bottleneck to transitioning away from HFC refrigerants, and threatening U.S. supermarkets’ ability to meet new regulatory requirements.”

To fill the labor gap, the organization has made many data-driven recommendations, including increasing youth exposure to the sector, building stronger relationships between local training partners and industry employers and supporting ongoing training and education.