A guide to air-conditioning inspections for buildings
Why air-conditioning inspections are required
Having your air-conditioning system inspected by an Energy Assessor is designed to improve efficiency and reduce the electricity consumption, operating costs and carbon emissions for your system. Energy inspections will highlight improvements to the operation of your existing systems or opportunities to replace older, less energy efficient systems or oversized systems with new energy efficient systems.
As the replacement of refrigerant is restricted in older systems (as established under other legislation), there is an additional incentive to improve or replace older systems with more modern energy efficient units. Building owners and managers who control air-conditioning systems have statutory obligations and duties of care in the operation and maintenance of air-conditioning systems. The energy inspections discussed in this guide are in addition to the normal activities associated with the ownership and operation of air-conditioning systems.
Inspection, maintenance and cleaning programmes maintain the ability of the system to provide healthy and comfortable environments for building occupants, limiting the escape of refrigerant gases and ensuring the safety of equipment. The practices and procedures needed to achieve these aims should be applied more frequently than the assessment for energy efficiency described here. It is outside the scope of this document to describe such procedures in detail, but an introduction to available professional and industry good practice guidance is included in annex A.
When air-conditioning inspections are required
All air-conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kw must be regularly inspected by an Energy Assessor. The inspections must be a maximum of five years apart.
The regulations require the first inspection of the affected air-conditioning systems to be carried out as follows:
• First inspection of all existing air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of over 250 kW cooling capacity must be completed by 4 January 2009.
• First inspection of all existing air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of over 12 kW must be completed by 6 April 2012.
• New air conditioning systems over 12 kW installed after January 2008 must be inspected within 5 years of being put into service
First inspection of all existing air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of over 12 kW must be completed by 4 January 2011.
What does an air-conditioning inspection cover?
The inspection will examine the refrigeration and air movement equipment that are part of air-conditioning systems, and their controls. It will also examine any documentation that helps to understand the systems, or indicates the extent to which the systems have been maintained. The energy assessor is also required to estimate whether the system is suitably sized for the cooling loads in the treated spaces, and to provide advice on ways in which the performance of the system might be improved.
Access will be required to equipment that may be located in plant rooms, or outside the building, including rooftops or other locations with limited provision for access. In all cases the building owner or manager should agree the means for safe access with the energy assessor, following a health
and safety risk assessment of the individual situation. The energy assessor may need to be accompanied by the responsible building manager or maintenance agent at all times.
Some additional access is likely to be needed, for example to the inside of AHUs or ducts. This must be provided and supervised by the responsible building manager or maintenance agent with due regard to the safety of the energy assessor and to building occupants. This would require the system to be turned off to allow safe access, so arrangements may need to be made for this outside working hours to avoid disruption to business. Similarly, the Energy Assessor may need to access a sample of components, such as fan coil units, which may be hidden above suspended ceilings. Again, access should be provided by the building manager.
Building owners and managers should not expect the air conditioning inspection to identify hazards or unsafe aspects of the installation, operation or maintenance of systems that should be identified and addressed by other arrangements, nor should they expect the energy assessor to fix any problem identified as part of the inspection. If owners or managers require this service then they should ensure that the need is clearly specified in the invitation to undertake the work, assure themselves that the energy assessor is competent to undertake such additional work, and ensure that such aspects are clearly expressed in their contract or agreement with the energy assessor.
Obtaining an air-conditioning inspection
Responsibilities for ensuring inspections are done
If you control the operation of an air-conditioning system affected by these Regulations, it is your responsibility to:
• ensure an inspection has been done in accordance with the requirements
and timetable of the Regulations
• keep the most recent inspection report made by an energy assessor
• give any inspection report kept by you to any person taking over your responsibilities with respect to the control of the air-conditioning system If you have taken over control of an air-conditioning system from 4 January 2011 and you haven’t been given an inspection report, you must ensure the system is inspected by 6 April 2012.
Control of air-conditioning systems
The person who controls the operation of the system is the person who controls the technical functioning of the system, not someone who does no more than adjust the temperature.
The owner of the system will usually control the operation of the system even where day to day operation is contracted out to another. Where a tenant takes total responsibility for a building and its services (e.g. full repairing and insuring lease), then the tenant will control the system.
Where the operation and management of the system is carried out on a dayto-day Facilities Management basis, or a servicing company provides routine servicing and maintenance, the contract may specify the FM or servicing company as the controller of the system with responsibility for ensuring that inspections are carried out. Depending on the terms of such a contract the FM or servicing company may accordingly become responsible under the regulations also. Even in such cases, however, the landlord or tenant retains a parallel duty to ensure the air conditioning inspection has been done.
Where air-conditioning systems are installed locally by a tenant, the responsibility will lie with the tenant as they own the system.
Contact Pulse Services Ltd today for a no-obligation free quotation for air conditioning inspections nationwide or phone 01749 670 838.