Having an air conditioning unit installed in your business property can offer a host of benefits. And, while you may simply be looking for a way to manage temperature or air quality in a building, there are additional considerations you will need to make. The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations as set out in 2012 (and adapted in 2020) to provide guidance for those managing air conditioning systems. With air conditioners accounting for ⅓ of the annual electricity costs for a commercial property, the goal is to help improve efficiency and reduce bills while maintaining high levels of comfort and productivity for employees. In this guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about the relevant inspections to make sure you remain compliant.
What Is the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations?
This directive on the energy performance of buildings came into place in 2012 and has always been intended to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It is there with guidance to help reduce carbon emissions and the impact building performance has on climate change.
The main pointers given underneath these regulations include:
- Having an up-to-date Energy Performance certificate for domestic and non-domestic properties.
- Displaying energy certificates in public buildings.
- Ensuring that air conditioning units are inspected regularly when over a certain size.
In 2020, the directive was updated with further changes to help speed up the renovation of buildings and help implement smarter, more energy-efficiency systems into existing and new buildings.
- A mapped out a plan for low and zero-emission building stock.
- Encouraging the implementation of smart technologies to improve energy efficiency.
- Encouraging the use of smart readiness indicators.
How Do They Relate to Air Conditioners?
As you can see above, along with the physical construction of buildings, these regulations cover the use and inspection of air conditioning units over a certain size. Again, the goal is to ensure they are working efficiently and in a way that does not damage the environment. Traditionally and with older unit designs, these machines have been known to have a negative impact on the environment. Old designs produce harmful gases into the atmosphere while also using refrigerants that result in emissions known to contribute to global warming.
Why Are Inspections So Important?
All commercial air conditioning units should be inspected by an accredited energy assessor. Their job is to identify the ways in which the existing system could be improved or replaced in order to make its running as energy-efficient as possible. This is a proactive way of minimising our impact on the environment, taking measures before problems begin to occur and reducing the potentially harmful impact older air conditioning units can have.
As part of the regulations, the person who is appointed responsible for the air conditioning system must ensure that there is a proper servicing and maintenance programme in place. We’ve written a blog on the 3 Reasons Why You Should Service Your Air Conditioner here but the benefits of having these structures in place are tenfold. Not only do they help to extend the lifespan of your machine and minimise the chance of costly repairs. But, a service and maintenance plan will help identify areas of your machine that may need replacing with more energy-efficient technologies. And, by cleaning out filters and removing any residual build-up, your machine can perform at an optimal level and improve energy efficiency for both you and the environment.
What Inspections Are Needed?
All air conditioning units and systems with a power output of 12kW or more need to be inspected every 5 years or less by an approved energy assessor. There are also regulations surrounding the 1st inspection of an air conditioning system once it has been installed.
- All units put into action on or after 01/01/2008 must have their first inspection within 5 years of the date it was first put into service.
- Where a unit’s power output is over 250kW, the first inspection had to have taken place before Jan 2009.
- Where a unit’s output is more than 12kW, the first inspection had to have taken place by Jan 2011.
For the purpose of these regulations, all air conditioning units with a power output of 12kW or more will need to undergo these inspections. If there is more than one unit in a building and they are all the responsibility of one person, they are considered a single air conditioning system for these regulations. So, if collectively, they have a total power output of 12kW or more, they will all be subject to these inspections.
What Is Included in the Report?
After you have had an inspection carried out by the energy assessor, you will receive a report regarding the efficiency of your system. This will also include advice and recommendations on how to improve it, reduce its impact on the environment and help you minimise household bills.
The type of information included in these reports are:
- Suggested improvements to boost the efficiency of the air conditioning system.
- Any faults that have been detected with advice on the next steps to take.
- Information about how adequate the maintenance schedule is and advice for improvements.
- Suggestions on how to optimise the performance of a system in terms of its capability.
- Advice on the control settings and any suggestions for improvement.
As a business, you are not legally required to act on any of the suggestions given. However, as part of your bid to create a more energy-efficient environment and one where reduce energy bills come into play, it can be helpful to invest in changes or research in this manner.
Here at Controlled Climate, we have been installing and designing energy-efficient air conditioning commercial systems for over 25 years. Our experienced team can help you take the information and advice from your inspection report and translate it into reduced carbon emissions, high efficiency and an effective system for your building. For more information, get in contact with the team here who will be happy to help.
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