Doing inspections makes economic sense
Mike Nankivell is Marketing Director of the Guildford based Daikin distributor, Space Airconditioning plc.
As Chairman of the HEVAC Air Conditioning Plenary Committee and Vice President of the Heat Pump Association, Mike is closely involved with industry regulation and legislation and here he outlines the law regarding regular Air Conditioning Inspections.
The European Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD), which all member states are required to adopt, introduced legislation designed to address the energy consumption of buildings – both new and old - and to provide advice on how this could be reduced.
Since October 2008,all properties – homes, commercial and public buildings – when sold, built or rented have needed an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and larger public buildings need to obtain a Display Energy Certificate (DEC). However buildings with air conditioning systems are also implicated in separate legislation, as regularised inspections of air conditioning installations, by qualified and accredited energy assessors, are now a legal requirement.
Already there are some interesting case studies where impressive annual running cost savings have been made as a direct result of adopting air conditioning inspection report recommendations.
Air Conditioning Inspections
The EPBD – Air Conditioning Inspections legislation implicates any building with an air conditioning system that has a rated cooling output greater than 12 kW. For the UK this means that pre 2008 buildings with air conditioning systems having a rated cooling output greater than 250kW should, by law, have had its first air conditioning inspection by 4th January 2009.
If the system has a rated cooling output greater than 12kW but less than 250kW the first inspection should have taken place before 4th January 2011. The only exceptions to these legal requirements are for systems installed on or after 1st January 2008, which had/have 5 years to arrange an inspection. A/C inspections are then required to take place at 5 yearly intervals.
The economic downturn and absence of government funded publicity or active policing have been blamed for building owners and operators failing to satisfy these legal obligations. At the moment the ‘spot’ fine for non-compliance is £300.
Latest estimates suggest that fewer than 5%, ofbuildings in scope have had their A/C inspections carried out.
However, if non-compliance is being driven by economics, building operators need to understand that this legislation could actually help them make significant savings in running costs and enhance the value of their properties.
Replacement of Systems using HCFC Refrigerant Gas
With so many installed air conditioning systems being quite old and relatively inefficient compared with technology available today, substantial and cost effective improvements can be achieved. Moreover, many older systems operate with an HCFC (R22) refrigerant gas, the use of which, for maintenance and servicing purposes, will be banned at the end of this year and so replacements for these systems really need to be on the agenda sooner rather than later.
As we begin to turn the corner out of recession there are signs that building operators are becoming more aware of the need to reduce maintenance and running costs through investing in efficiency improvements of their A/C systems.
Importantly, encouraged by industry institutions and associations, the government is actively looking at how to improve compliance with the air conditioning inspections law, as UK plc is a risk of attracting substantial fines in the event that European Directives are not effectively implemented. So the watchword is ‘beware’, 2014 could see much more pressure on compliance with the air conditioning legislation.
Excellent guidance is available, click on news/general news/Regulations & Directives.