Industry bodies issue warning

CIBSE and HVCA have issued a joint statement on air conditioning inspection training, warning potential trainees that they may not be able to be accredited to work as air conditioning inspectors after undergoing certain training.

It has come to the attention of The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association (HVCA) that a number of training organisations are offering air conditioning inspector training based on a proposed ABBE diploma in air conditioning inspection.

CIBSE and HVCA point out that this diploma has not been accredited by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) as a suitable qualification for those seeking accreditation as air conditioning inspectors. This means that, by itself, this qualification will not prove the competence of those graduating, who therefore may not be able to take work providing air conditioning inspection reports.

CIBSE and HVCA note that candidates for training courses are not being required to have any previous experience or qualifications. This is a serious cause for concern as the National Occupational Standard upon which the diploma is said to be based, is written on the assumption that those being accredited will have at least two years previous experience of working with air conditioning systems. This level of competence cannot be achieved through a four-day course with some homework and an examination.

HVCA chief executive Robert Higgs OBE comments: “The regular inspection of air conditioning systems has the potential to be a key element in the Government’s long-term carbon reduction strategy. It is quite crucial, therefore, that the integrity, reputation and credibility of the scheme is not in any way undermined.

“That unsuitable individuals are being encouraged to undertake training which they are under the mistaken impression will prepare them for accreditation as air conditioning inspectors is not helpful in this or any other regard.”

CIBSE chief executive Stephen Matthews adds: “In order to recognise, let alone suggest ways to improve the performance of the equipment used in complex air conditioning systems, you really have to have a good deal of experience. It is essential that clients can be sure that in getting an air conditioning report, they are getting something which is genuinely valuable. Air conditioning systems can use as much as 30% of the electrical demand of a building, so a poorly performing system will be wasting a large amount of energy.

“A really competent air conditioning inspector can therefore save significant amounts of energy, and money. We are very concerned that people with no experience of such systems will be persuaded to take this qualification in the expectation of future work which they will not, in fact, be competent to undertake.”

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