UK Air Conditioning Laws Concerning F-Gas
The first air conditioning laws put into place were the F-Gas regulations. Gas groups such as HCFCs, HFCs and CFCs are not only harmful to the ozone but are very effective greenhouse gases which is why the EU considers the control of these gases a priority. In May 2006, the EU passed the regulation (EC) 842/2006 designed to reduce fluorinated gases, which are commonly found in air conditioning systems. The 2006 regulation was revised with the current regulation (EC) 517/2014 taking effect January 2015. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU committed to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases it produced overall by 8% compared to emission levels in 1990. EC 842/2006 & its revisions are one of many regulations that the EU put into place to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Of course, the UK typically advocates for reducing the environmental impact from human activity and has adopted these air conditioning laws.
1) Use trained technicians to carry out work on equipment containing F gases, such as installation work, leak testing, service & maintenance and disposal.
2) Correctly label the equipment, if you add F gas to air conditioning equipment or when you’re installing it. As of 2017 the label must state;
- that the equipment contains an F gas.
- the type of F gas (industry or chemical name) and the amount of refrigerant.
- carbon dioxide (CO2) mass equivalent of refrigerant.
- the ‘global warming potential’ of the F gas
- If the F gas is ‘hermetically sealed’ within a product, the label must also state that’s the case.
3) Keep up-to-date records, it is the operator’s (and service company’s) responsibility to keep records for a minimum of 5 years of the following:
- quantity and type of gas in the equipment when it’s installed
- quantity and type of gas added during any maintenance (eg leak repairs)
- details (name, address and certificate number if relevant) of any companies that install, service or decommission the equipment
- dates and results of all mandatory leak checks
- measures taken to recover and dispose of gases when you dispose of the equipment (eg disposing of it through a registered waste carrier)
- details of the recycling or reclamation facility (name, address and certificate number if it has one)
- quantity of any gases recovered
4) Check the air-conditioning system for leaks, you’re responsible for stopping leaks from your equipment. Additionally, contractors that install, maintain or dispose of the equipment share responsibility for trying to stop leaks (in conjunction with the operators of the air-conditioning system).
The interval between leak checks is dependent upon the ‘CO2 mass equivalent’ of the F gas found within the air-conditioning system. The maximum is 1 year whilst the minimum is 3 months with the following exemptions:
- If you install a refrigerant leak detection system, the maximum interval between leak checks is doubled.
- There’s no maximum interval for leak checks on hermetically sealed air-conditioning systems unless the equivalent CO2 mass of refrigerant exceeds 10 tonnes.
- By law, you must fit a leak detection system if your equipment contains F gas equivalent to more than 500 tonnes of CO2.
The F-Gas for air conditioning laws also states that you must have your leak detection system checked once a year to make sure it’s working properly.
5) If a leak is found during a check, you must repair it and repeat the test within a month to check the repair worked.
6) Disposal, you must use a qualified technician to recover F gas when disposing of air-conditioning equipment.
UK Air Conditioning Laws Concerning Energy Assessments (TM-44)
7) Carry out regular energy assessments. Air-conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kw must be regularly inspected by a qualified energy assessor. The period between energy assessments must not exceed 5 years. The air conditioning laws requires the first inspection of the affected air conditioning systems to be carried out as follows:
- For all systems first put into service on or after 1 January 2008, the first inspection must have taken place within five years of the date when the system was first put into service.
- For other air conditioning systems, where the effective rated output is more than 250kW the first inspection must have taken place by 4 January 2009.
- For other air conditioning systems, where the effective rated output is more than 12kW the first inspection must have taken place by 4 January 2011.
8) Responsibilities for ensuring inspections are done The person who controls the operation of an air conditioning system must:
- Ensure an inspection has been done in accordance with the requirements and timetable of the regulations.
- Keep the most recent inspection report provided by an energy assessor.
- Give any inspection report to any person taking over responsibilities with respect to the control of the air conditioning system If the control of an air conditioning system is passed to another person and that person has not been given an inspection report by the previous operator of the system, the system must be inspected within three months of the new operator of the system taking over such control.
9) Finally, the air conditioning laws state that all TM44 inspection reports must be lodged on the government’s landmark register. This is a publicly accessible database which holds various information on buildings throughout the UK.