How technicians can support small store owners - Interview with Matthias Schmitt

In this series, RefNat4LIFE project partners give insight into their motivation to engage in sustainable RACHP. This time, we have talked to Dr. Matthias Schmitt of the German “BIV” – the association representing the companies responsible for the design, installation, maintenance and repair of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in Germany.

Claudia Becker (HEAT GmbH): Matthias, how can service companies best support small store owners in the transition to sustainable cooling?  

Matthias Schmitt (BIV, Germany): The owners of small shops in particular do not have the time and personnel capacities to familiarize themselves with technical issues and developments in the refrigeration industry. They usually do not have dedicated technical store managers and they have to do this in addition to their actual business. Advice from a competent specialist company can relieve them of a lot of work and provide helpful information.

Claudia:  Which challenges does the service sector face?

Matthias: The technicians constantly have to adapt to new refrigerants and their handling, especially in terms of safety. In addition, there is an acute shortage of skilled workers in relation to the number of installed cooling systems. Against this background, the conversion to more sustainable store operation is an immense challenge.

Claudia: Which policies support the switch to climate friendly cooling in Germany?

Matthias: In addition to the relevant regulations, there are numerous funding programs which make switching to sustainable cooling systems very attractive in many cases. For example, the funding program of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, BMU. Store owners can get funding for the installation of refrigeration and air conditioning systems using natural refrigerants. The programme was amended at the end 2020 and now includes smaller systems than before, which makes it more attractive for smaller businesses, like the small organic food stores we are targeting with the RefNat4LIFE project. 

Claudia: Why has the BIV become a partner in the RefNat4LIFE project?

Matthias: In this project we see the possibility of giving both the small store owners and our own members an incentive to find their way towards sustainable cooling.

Claudia: Thank you very much!