The Government must act now to compel building managers to comply with regulations for air conditioning inspections, either by force or by incentive, if the UK is to meet carbon reduction targets, says Simon Keel of Daikin UK.
By not complying with the legislation, companies are breaking the law, jeopardising the UK’s ability to hit carbon reduction targets and, possibly most pressing in the current economic climate, costing themselves money.
Keel’s comments come in the wake of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) estimation that fewer than 5% of buildings have complied with Energy Performance in Buildings legislation, which requires all air conditioning systems above 12kW to be inspected by 4 January 2011.
“What is needed is either a bigger stick (not likely in today’s new political environment) or a bigger carrot. The latter could take the form of direct grant help (also not even remotely likely in the wake of today’s financial cut backs). More realistic are subtle drivers which would ultimately affect the pockets of the non compliers.”
Keel argues that by viewing energy assessment of air conditioning systems as a route by which information can be gathered to improve thermal efficiency, significant energy performance improvements could be achieved, which would make a real difference to the UK’s ability to hit its carbon reduction targets while also improving a company’s bottom line in today’s financially sensitive market place.
Key to this argument is that the role of the assessor is to offer advice on how improvements in performance can be made going forward (vital information in providing even higher reductions in a building’s energy usage) as well as assessing how an air conditioning is functioning at the point of inspection.
He continues: “When Inspections of Air Conditioning in Buildings were first announced officially with the CIBSE TM44 document there was great optimism that it would really make a difference. Various bodies were set up to train and certify inspectors who would bring expertise and vision to end users operating qualifying plant, which could be running inefficiently. A major pan-European study (HARMONAC) funded by the EU will report their findings later this year. This will offer detailed advice and modelling tools specifically aimed at inspectors to assist them to produce the highest quality reports.
“These would be highly detailed, contain a full description of systems and professional recommendations on how to make systems run more effectively thus saving carbon emissions, operating costs and enhancing user comfort. The recommendations would not be obligatory, more of a helpful constructive critique.
“However, many of the buildings that have been looked at and have been reported on have had no action taken upon them as yet. This may be due to financial constrictions on businesses, but is more likely to be spawned by apathy.”
The subtle drivers suggested by Keel could be added to initiatives like the Carbon Reduction Commitment and take the form of stipulating that all reports should be acted upon within six months of publication, unless reasons why not are given. Without this report the company would not be placed on the CRC league table.
Keel concludes: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but there are a number of end users who do not know their obligations. This can only be put down to lack of Government publicity.”