Coming Soon, to a Heat Pump Near You: Refrigerant Changes

Last month, we summarized some of the why and how of electrification related to mechanical and plumbing systems. When it comes to all-electric HVAC, the common denominator is refrigerant. Just about any mechanical system providing heating and/or cooling without using fossil fuels will include refrigerant at some level—heat pumps, chillers, geothermal they all include refrigerant compressor circuits. So, on top of local, state, and federal regulations pushing the industry toward building systems electrification, Congress has kept things interesting by passing the AIM Act in 2020.

The AIM Act and Refrigerant Regulation

The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate and phase out hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in the coming years. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases with a global warming potential (GWP) thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide (GWP = 1). To combat this, the EPA has set GWP limits for refrigerants manufactured or imported in the U.S.

Impact on the HVAC Industry

Current Refrigerant Landscape: Most heat pumps (including water-source heat pumps, variable refrigerant flow systems, etc.) and DX cooling units currently use R-410a refrigerant, boasting a GWP rating of around 3,000.

EPA’s GWP Limits: Starting in 2025-2026, the EPA mandates a GWP limit of 700 for refrigerants in these systems. Other types of equipment (such as supermarket refrigerated displays) have even lower GWP limits.

Industry Response: HVAC equipment manufacturers are investing significant time and effort in redesigning equipment to accommodate alternative refrigerants that comply with EPA requirements.

Choosing the Right Refrigerant

  • Various refrigerant options are available, but only a few are practical replacements for HFCs in HVAC systems.
  • Selection involves economic considerations and evaluation of potential life-safety risks.
  • Codes and standards such as the International Mechanical Code and ASHRAE Standard 15 guide allowable refrigerant volumes based on health hazards, flammability, and reactivity.
  • Our job as engineers is to calculate and confirm that a leak in the piping or equipment we’ve specified would not result in a concentration above this limit inside the smallest enclosed space served by our system.

Understanding Allowable Concentrations

  • For instance, R-410a has an allowable concentration of 26 lbs. per 1,000 cubic feet, with a health hazard rating of 2 (coupled with flammability and reactivity hazard ratings of 0).
  • R-32, a potential R-410a replacement, has a lower health hazard rating of 1 but a higher flammability hazard rating of 4, resulting in an allowable concentration of only 4.8 lbs. per 1,000 cubic feet.

Implications for HVAC Systems

  • The AIM Act’s impact extends to architectural, electrical, and structural designs.
  • Uncertainty remains about manufacturers’ refrigerant choices and their effects on system designs.
  • Potential changes could lead to larger equipment and piping, challenging installation, maintenance, and clearances.
  • Increased electrical loads may strain infrastructure, especially in buildings aiming for full electrification.

In summary, while the HVAC industry faces uncertainty due to the AIM Act, it is actively preparing for the changes. As engineers, we anticipate and embrace these challenges and are excited about the innovations driving our industry toward a more efficient and sustainable future.

For further details, visit the International Code Council website.

Exploring Complete Electrification in Denver

At 360, we are constantly looking for ways to comply with the ever-changing permitting requirements and climate change mitigation efforts that the city of Denver implements. Our world is constantly evolving, and we need to find solutions to new climate challenges each day. In this blog post, we will discuss the opportunities for Complete Electrification in Denver

Our team is critically looking at options to ensure each project we work on not only meets the required regulations but is cost-effective too. Read along to see the importance of electrification and its impact.

What We Look At

In 2019, buildings and homes accounted for 64% of all community-generated greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Denver1. In 2020 Denver had the worst air pollution in 10 years2. Natural ventilation isn’t as effective when the air quality continues to decline, and moving to an all-electric system could mitigate safety issues associated with poor air quality while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What is the Road Map to Electrification?

  • Effective Now
    • Obtaining “Quick Permits” is no longer allowed for replacing air handling units or water heaters utilizing natural gas in commercial buildings. The permitting process for these projects will be the same as applying for a new heat pump.  There are a few exceptions.
  • Starting January 1st, 2025
    • Replacement of outdoor gas-fired equipment used primarily for heating needs to be electric, and secondary gas-fired heating equipment can be installed for supplemental heat only.
    • Replacement of outdoor cooling air conditioning or condensing unit equipment needs to be electric and provide space heating (like a heat pump), and a secondary piece of equipment can be installed for supplemental heat only. 
    • Replacement of a storage water heater or instantaneous water heater needs to be an electric water heater.
  • Starting January 1st, 2027
    • Replacement of gas-fired boilers must utilize electric heating for 50% of space heating needs/water heating needs; the remaining 50% can be met with a replacement of the gas-fired boiler.
    • Replacement of an air conditioner that serves spaces that are also being heated needs to be replaced with electric equipment that does both heating and cooling.

How does this affect the A&E Industry?

  • Denver will require reporting of estimated building Energy Use Intensity (EUIs) with targeted goals in 2024, 2027, and 2030.
  • There will be fines associated with incorrect modeling/inability to meet target EUIs (as established by Denver).
  • High-Efficiency Mechanical equipment will be the standard.
  • Increased coordination between disciplines will be even more important.
  • All disciplines (not just mechanical) have options to assist in Denver’s EUI requirements:
    • LED lighting
    • Green-sourced energy
    • High efficiency, tight envelope construction
    • Energy Star and low-water plumbing fixtures

Limitations of Electrification

  • Upfront costs for heat pumps are typically higher than standard Direct Expansion (DX) cooling and gas-fired air handling units.
  • Currently, gas rates in Denver are still lower per amount of heat energy than electricity.
  • Newer technology for building operators: lack of experience may result in lack of confidence in new heat pump technology.  Additional training may be needed for facility staff.
  • Most existing buildings were not provided with an electrical service intended for full building heating.  An Electrification Feasibility Report is one way to determine the impact of a fully electric mechanical system on the building infrastructure. 

Let’s Wrap it Up

With the new regulations coming, Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) will become even more important to show the offset of maintenance, utility, and upfront costs between mechanical systems. It is important to know the regulations to ensure the safety and longevity of your product. Energy modeling is already required in some cities like Boulder and will become required in Denver to demonstrate energy compliance.

For any questions or inquiries or to get started on your next project, Contact Us.





Direct Expansion (DX): the most common type of air conditioning in the US where the indoor air is cooled with a refrigerant liquid.

Electrification: the conversion of a machine or system to the use of electrical power.

Energy Use Intensity (EUI): refers to the amount of energy used per square foot annually.

Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA): it is an economic evaluation technique that determines the total cost of owning and operating a facility over a period of time.

Optimized Cooling Tower Design for Increased Performance and Efficiency

At 360 Engineering, we consistently optimize projects by creating custom designs and recommendations. This project we started in 2018 for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was no exception. Once COVID-19 hit, we learned how the economy could quickly derail a project, but we steered it on the right track by helping NREL find a viable path forward and breaking the project into two phases.

NREL realized one of its cooling towers at the Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF) was using a significant amount of water, and they brought our team in to find a solution. During a gas line replacement project, water was encountered immediately below the access road, and it was determined to be a leak of the condenser water lines from the cooling towers to the chilled water plant. 

“360 Engineering reconfigured the operation of the cooling tower condenser water plant to optimize both the performance of the plant as well as increase the system redundancy moving forward.”

The design phase of this project could be broken down into the following general steps:

  • Pre-Design – During this process, the design team determined the new cooling tower could be placed next to the others instead of in a separate location, eliminating extra landscaping work.
  • Design Solutions – The team decided to route the condenser water lines from the cooling towers to the chillers over the service road to keep the chillers operational while the underground lines were replaced. This solution also maintained the service road access for other vehicles.
  • Testing and Balancing – We worked closely with the contractor and NREL to diagnose some pump issues and provide additional designs to improve the water flow. 

Our early discussions and understanding of intent led to a better end solution for NREL with these positive outcomes:

  • Optimized the plant’s performance and increased system redundancy
  • Maximized the life of the new piping with a high-quality pre-insulated option, less subjectable to corrosive soils
  • Saved time and money by breaking the project into phases and using forward-thinking design solutions

This project included our long-time electrical engineering partner, AE Design, and structural and civil engineers from Martin/Martin. We have an amazing team of expert consultants who have worked with us on NREL projects since the beginning. 

For any questions, inquiries, or to get started on your next project, Contact Us.

360 Engineering Wins Prestigious Colorado Companies to Watch Award

Colorado Companies to Watch Announces their 2023 Winners at the 15th Annual Awards Gala    
June 16, 203
For Immediate Release

Colorado Companies to Watch Announces 2023 Winners at 15th Annual Gala Awards Dinner

An Unparalleled Night Celebrating 50 of Colorado’s Entrepreneurial Gems with Master of Ceremonies, Chris Parente, Channel 2 Anchor.

Denver, CO – Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) is pleased to announce the selection of its Winners for this year. On June 16th, fifty outstanding businesses will be honored at the Annual Gala Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, located at 7800 East Tufts Avenue in Denver, CO, and will include Chris Parente as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

Colorado Companies to Watch is a nonprofit awards program that honors 50 fast-growing 2nd stage companies across the state for their performance in the marketplace, innovative products, and unique processes and philanthropic actions. Celebrates the achievements of growth-oriented companies located throughout Colorado. This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 1150 nominations, after an intensive two-month selection process by a panel of industry experts and leaders from around Colorado.

This event marks the fifteenth consecutive year that Colorado Companies to Watch has recognized second-stage companies for their significant contributions to their communities, industries, and economies. At the Annual Gala Awards Dinner, each winner will receive recognition for their entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to creating jobs, and commitment to making a positive impact on local and state economies. In addition to celebrating this year’s honorees, attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and professionals from across Colorado while gaining valuable insights into successful second-stage business strategies.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these 2nd-stage companies at this year’s Gala Awards Dinner. These dynamic companies play a pivotal role in Colorado’s economy, serving as the driving force behind innovation, job creation, and sustainable growth. I am inspired by the resiliency and ingenuity displayed by these companies, who continue to push boundaries and thrive amidst challenges. Their contributions not only fuel our state’s economic vitality but also serve as a beacon of entrepreneurial spirit for aspiring businesses.” said Erin Beckstein, Program Director, Colorado Companies to Watch.

To add to the celebration, CCTW also announced its 2023 Hall of Fame Winners. Each year, the Winners were carefully selected for their outstanding achievements, authoritative leadership, and continued contributions to their respective industries. Their persistent efforts towards product innovation, community development, and impressive employee and sales growth stand out as exemplary.  

The 2023 Hall of Fame Winners
Lifescape Colorado 

2023 Colorado Companies to Watch Winners

10x People
360 Engineering Inc
Aneka Interiors, Inc
Ascent CFO Solutions
Axe and the Oak Distillery
B-Line Construction Services
Brothers Plumbing, Heating & Electric
Citrine LLC
Common Knowledge Technology
Concurrent HRO
Connects Workspace
ERO Resources Corporation 
Everest Mechanical
Fast Fit Foods
Garlic Media Group
Hydrate IV Bar
Innovest Portfolio Solutions
Låda Cube

LeafTech Consulting
Lily’s Toaster Grills 
MenuTrinfo, LLC
Moser Aviation
Nymbl Science
Occasions Catering
Point b(e) Strategies, LLC
Quicksilver Scientific
Reata Engineering & Machine Works
SAFE Engineering
Sauvage Spectrum
Shift Workspaces
Terra Ferma, LLC
THiN AiR Brands
Tierra Group International, Ltd.
Trisco Foods, LLC
True Anomaly
Watson Mills and Design

Melissa Kisicki, Stacey Richardson, and Brennen Guy Accepting the Award for 360 Engineering.

For more information on the 2023 Winners or tips on how your business can apply for next year’s program, visit or contact us directly at

About Colorado Companies to Watch
Colorado’s second-stage companies represent high-performing and innovative companies, crossing every industry sector and region in the state, of which provide thousands of high-quality jobs and contributes billions of dollars back to our local economies. Colorado Companies to Watch (CCTW) certifies and spotlights the important contributions they make. To date, we have celebrated close to 750 companies, resulting in a $6.5 billion economic impact on Colorado’s economy.
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation initiated the program in 2009 along with valuable sponsors, key drivers, community and supporting partners, and volunteers from throughout Colorado. Today, CCTW encourages the collaboration and advancement of our alumni network and aligns strategic partnerships and alliances by leveraging valuable resources to support and nurture the growth of our alumni and their businesses.
Visit, and Twitter @ColoradoCTW.

For more information, please contact:
Erin Beckstein, COO
Crazy Good Marketing
Program Director, Colorado Companies to Watch
720.325.2517, x697  

Designing for Sustainability in Extreme Climates

Here are some considerations for designing mechanical systems for properties in remote/climate-sensitive locations, meanwhile achieving the energy savings needed to accommodate sustainability goals, such as in our Gunnison County Library project.

• Utilizing a geothermal system allows for an all-electric system without having to deal with the extreme low temperatures as a source for heat-pump heat.

• Energy modeling is critical when designing a geothermal system not only to size the bore field but to ensure that the heating and cooling loads are sufficiently balanced to mitigate long-term ground temperature drift.

• In environments such as this with year-round intense sun and heating dominant loads, exploring different glazing locations and characteristics is important as sometimes glass that allows more solar load in, while increasing the cooling load, will decrease the heating load, and may increase the overall efficiency of the building.

• Incorporating energy recovery for ventilation is key in mitigating the energy associated with bringing in fresh air during very cold temperatures, especially when utilizing an all-electric system.

Read more about the integrated design team approach here: Colorado-Real-Estate-Journal_330353 (


Exterior view of Gunnison County Library

360 Continues to Grow

We are excited to welcome Alex to our team!

Alex Timberlake, PE(CO) – Project Engineer II

As an experienced mechanical engineer with a diverse background, Alex joined 360 Engineering in the Fall of 2022. His project knowledge includes commercial buildings, churches, warehouses, offices, high-end residential, and multi-family. As a Project Engineer II, Alex works with the design team and internal engineers through the complete project cycle, from in-depth assessments to load calculations, equipment selection, drafting, and specifications.

Alex grew up in Columbia, MO, and spent a lot of time at his father’s MEP firm, scanning plans and doing a little drafting. So, from a young age, he always found himself “looking up” at mechanical systems much more than his friends, which made mechanical engineering an easy choice. He went to Colorado State University for college, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In true Colorado style, Alex loves snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking 14ers with his wife and dog!


Spencer Rioux to Present at USGBC Green Schools Summit

Join us for the USGBC Mountain Region Green Schools Summit on December 1st, 12:40-1:40 pm, which will be held virtually. Based on our electrification design efforts for the new Denver Public Schools Ceylon, learn about establishing sustainability and efficiency goals, control strategies for energy savings and indoor air quality, the relationship between system operations and environmental sustainability, and ways to implement these strategies in architectural and mechanical design. 360 Engineering Project Manager, Spencer Rioux, will be joined by Molly Blakley, DLR Group, and Adam West, Denver Public Schools.

You can register here:

New Hire Announcement

Welcome to Team 360

Meet the newest additions to our team.


360 Office CoordinatorSamantha Mardick – Office Coordinator

Sam joined 360 Engineering in July 2022, filling a crucial administration role for the firm. With a hospitality management background, Sam easily keeps up with a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment. She helps keep the office running smoothly and, most importantly, supports our technical engineering staff with everything from formatting specifications and reports to compiling deliverables. Sam is willing to step in wherever she’s needed. A Colorado native growing up in the Boulder area, Sam takes advantage of all our great state offers, including camping, kayaking, mountain biking, and hanging with her dog, Maya.


360 Project Engineer IIRami Haddadin – Project Engineer II

With experience in mechanical engineering design, energy modeling, and commissioning, Rami started with 360 Engineering in August 2022. His enthusiasm for teamwork and creative problem-solving shows in his work as a project engineer. Rami works closely with the design team and internal engineers, conducting field assessments, calculations, equipment selection, specification development, and drafting. His range of mechanical design knowledge includes tenant improvements and new construction projects. Rami grew up in Salt Lake City, UT, then moved to Boise, ID, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Boise State University. Rami loves doing anything outside in his free time, like mountain biking, rock climbing, and snowboarding.


International Latina Engineer Week Scholarship

360 Engineering is providing a scholarship to one undergraduate student to attend the Latinas in Engineering conference in October with our project engineer, Jacqueline Solis-Armenta.

Latinas in Engineering Week holds daily virtual sessions from October 10th to October 15th, with an in-person conference on October 15th at the University of Illinois Chicago.

360 Engineering, Inc. hopes to give the opportunity for a prospective Latina engineer to attend the in-person event with a 360 Latina engineer. The 360 scholarship includes:
  • Admittance to the conference
  • Flight to Chicago, IL, October 14th and return flight October 16th
  • Lodging for two nights
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the duration of the stay
  • Mentorship

The conference is a great way to network with other Latinas in engineering, learn how to deal with adversities as a Latina in Engineering, participate in a career fair, gain access to mentorship, and celebrate Latinas in engineering!

While this scholarship is for one student, Jackie encourages people to attend the free week-long virtual sessions. The conference host is also currently offering a scholarship for undergrad Latinas. More information on the event can be found here:

Jackie joined 360 Engineering in May of 2022 as a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Energy Engineering. Her interests in design and passion for sustainability led Jackie to the path of mechanical engineering, where she can work on creating more energy-efficient mechanical systems. As a Project Engineer, Jackie’s focus includes field investigations, calculations, equipment selections and layout, and drafting. She enjoys performing calculations and designing systems to aid in the development of a sustainable future. Jackie grew up in Thornton, CO, and likes learning new skills such as knitting, roller skating, painting, and playing instruments. She is also learning ASL due to her experience of wanting to communicate with people in their preferred language. Jackie is passionate about inclusivity and equality through communication, resources such as transportation, and education.




Recent New Hires and Promotions

Welcome to Team 360

Meet the newest additions to our team.


Andrew Pituch, PE (CO) – Project Engineer

Andrew joined 360 Engineering in early 2022, bringing robust engineering, construction, and quality control knowledge. He is skilled in the latest engineering and drafting software programs and developing engineering tools, including calculation models, CAD blocks, and Revit families. Andrew has spent time on construction sites as a QC engineer, verifying material/equipment matched with the construction documents. He also worked closely with the Owner and City inspections to ensure satisfaction and compliance. Andrew graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a B.S. in Engineering with Mechanical Specialty and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with Thermodynamics/Fluid Mechanics Specialty. He grew up in Aurora/Centennial, CO, and enjoys staying active (i.e., biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing), board games, hanging out with friends and family, and tinkering with things to try to understand/improve them.


Jacqueline Solis-Armenta – Project Engineer

Jackie joined 360 Engineering in May of 2022 as a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Energy Engineering. Her interests in design and passion for sustainability led Jackie to the path of mechanical engineering, where she can work on creating more energy-efficient mechanical systems. As a Project Engineer, Jackie’s focus includes field investigations, calculations, equipment selections and layout, and drafting. She enjoys performing calculations and designing systems to aid in the development of a sustainable future. Jackie grew up in Thornton, CO, and likes learning new skills such as knitting, roller skating, painting, and playing instruments. She is also learning ASL due to her experience of wanting to communicate with people in their preferred language. Jackie is passionate about inclusivity and equality through communication, resources such as transportation, and education.



Join us in congratulating Brennen and Alex on their promotions.


Brennen Guy, PE (CO) – Project Manager

Brennen joined the 360 Engineering team in 2018, bringing his passion for mechanical engineering design to every project. Not only does Brennen have a background in teaching, but he is also a natural leader and mentor to our mechanical engineering staff. As a Project Manager, Brennen assists in building client relationships and seeing our projects run smoothly, but he also leads our internal coaching, training, and professional development. Additionally, Brennen contributes to our internal culture committee and is a master of planning fun events for our employees. Brennen is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry from the University of Arizona.


Alex Fornoff – Project Engineer II

With a mechanical design and construction project management background, Alex joined 360 Engineering in 2020. He possesses a broad range of knowledge with specialized computer software and engineering applications. As a Project Engineer II, Alex is responsible for design team coordination, field assessments, load calculations, equipment selections, and drafting. Alex’s experience includes local, state, and federal facilities, office spaces, and mechanical retrofit projects. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a B.S. in Engineering with Mechanical Specialty.