Air conditioning legal requirements in the UK are put in place to ensure the health and safety of occupants in commercial buildings. Property managers must follow the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations, or the EPB England and Wales Regulations. So, what air conditioning regulations do you need to know about?
Before installing your commercial air conditioning system, you may need planning permission. Planning permission is the process of getting approval from the local government for work done on your building.
Whether your property needs planning permission depends on the location and size of the air conditioning units. Noise pollution may also factor in, especially if the building is in a heavily populated area. Your local council can provide more information on planning permission for your project.
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Air Conditioning Regulations Involve Periodic Inspections
The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations require routine inspection of all commercial air conditioning systems. Regular checkups give feedback on how energy efficient your cooling system is. This information gives building managers a chance to find ways to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.
Doing so is beneficial for you in another way – it reduces operating costs.
According to EPB building regulations, air conditioning systems with an effective rated output over 12kW must get inspected at least once every five years. A certified energy assessor must conduct this inspection.
What Does an Air Conditioning Inspection Entail?
An air conditioning inspection includes the following elements:
- Examination of refrigeration and heat exchange systems for signs of damage that affect the system’s efficiency.
- Inspection of air moving systems, including fans, filters, and heat exchangers, for blockage, restriction to airflow, or other ventilation issues.
- Assessment of system controls, including set temperatures and time periods, sensor locations, the airflow rate control system, and the refrigeration capacity control system.
- System records and documentation, dating back to when you got your air conditioning installed. These records can include relevant maintenance records or a planned maintenance schedule.
After the assessment, you will receive a copy of the inspection report. It will include the following information:
- An efficiency rating and suggestions for improvement.
- Faults found in the system and suggestions on how to mitigate these issues.
- An assessment of equipment maintenance and controls and relevant suggestions for improvement.
- An analysis of the system’s size with regard to its cooling load.
- A summary of all findings and key suggestions, including ways to optimize performance.
Statutory inspection requirements require energy assessors to submit all inspection reports to the Energy Performance of Buildings Register. An inspection report is invalid unless it’s performed by an accredited energy assessor and reported on the register.
Property owners should save all inspection reports with other building maintenance records. Having this documentation on-hand can help inform subsequent inspections. It may also reduce the time needed for future inspections.
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What Are the Penalties for Noncompliance With the UK’s Air Conditioning Legal Requirements?
If a property owner can’t provide an inspection report upon request, then a penalty charge notice may be issued. Once requested, the property owner has seven days to produce the documentation. If they fail to do so, then they could receive a penalty charge notice for up to £300.
Aside from routine maintenance inspections, building managers are responsible for F-gas inspections.
Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) are harmful pollutants that cause climate change. The most common type of F-gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs have a global warming potential thousands of times that of carbon dioxide. Refrigerated equipment, including air conditioners, uses HFCs.
The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas Regulations, adopted by the UK government, establish a framework of responsibilities for property owners. The goal of these regulations is to minimize the risk of carbon emissions and other toxins. Responsibilities for property managers include routine F-gas inspections and repair. Regular inspections help ensure the following:
- Refrigerant leaks get repaired as soon as they’re found.
- Property managers take appropriate steps to prevent and avoid leaks.
- Trained and certified technicians perform all air conditioning inspections, repair, and maintenance.
In addition to regularly inspected equipment, larger systems may need routine testing. F-gas regulations may also require up-to-date records of systems checks. Staying on top of F-gas inspections reduces harmful emissions and keeps your building in compliance with the air conditioning regulations.
Health and Safety Considerations
The performance of commercial air conditioning systems is a health and safety concern. With the COVID-19 pandemic, ventilation and air conditioning regulations in 2019 and beyond are even more important. Commercial property managers have a legal obligation to provide occupants with an adequate supply of fresh air.
Proper ventilation in office air conditioning systems can minimize the spread of COVID-19. Regular maintenance is an essential responsibility of all property managers.
Make Sure Your HVAC Systems Complies With Air Conditioning Legal Requirements in the UK
Complying with commercial air conditioning regulations doesn’t have to be a chore or a distract for your business. Staying up-to-date with your routine inspections and maintenance is the easiest way to avoid a penalty notice. One way you can do that is by working with a knowledgeable HVAC partner.
At AirFixture, we recognize that the most important part of our business is our customers. We strive to provide you with long-lasting and cost-effective commercial heating and cooling solutions.
Contact one of our experts today to reduce your energy costs and improve air quality.