The national economic downturn has slowed replacement in buildings of comfort cooling chillers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Manufacturers predict that by year-end, 48% of the original 80,000 CFC chillers will still rely on the refrigerants that were banned from U.S. production at the end of 1995 due to concerns about depletion of the Earth's protective ozone layer.

A survey of large tonnage liquid chiller manufacturers by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) revealed that 2,931 CFC chillers were converted to non-CFCs refrigerants or replaced by new non-CFC equipment during 2001, with 3,124 more expected in 2002, leaving an estimated 38,281 CFC units still in use.

Chillers cool water that is circulated through a building to control humidity and provide comfort in offices, malls, hospitals, airports, factories, sports complexes, government buildings and institutions like colleges. The EPA noted that "Building owners around the world have saved millions of dollars in electricity bills through careful choice of upgraded air conditioning chiller installations and through complementary investments to reduce building cooling load. Today's chillers use about one-third or less electricity compared to those produced just two decades ago."

Despite the cost savings, the pace of replacements and retrofits has been slower than expected. At the current pace, it will likely take manufacturers until the end of this decade to phase out the tens of thousands of CFC chillers still in use. Manufacturers said that in 2002 they expect 360 conversions and 2,764 replacements bringing the total to 41,719 units or 52% of the original 80,000 CFC chillers in place since the early 1990s.