New air-conditioning legislation designed to help reduce global warming comes into force this month
A new piece of environmental legislation will come into force on July 4 which will affect all restaurants with air conditioning. The new F-gas regulation is a direct result of the Kyoto Protocol, passed in June 2006, and signed by the UK and other EU members, in a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming.
Refrigerant compounds found in most air-conditioning units contain fluorine, hence the name F-gas. The most widely used F-gases are hydrofluorocarbons believed to contribute to the greenhouse effect.
The new legal controls mean that all businesses which use systems that contain F-gas, whether old or new, must "take all measures which are technically feasible and do not entail disproportionate cost to prevent leakage and, as soon as possible, to repair any leaks detected."
Leakage tests should be conducted by certified personnel every 12 months for systems containing 3kg of refrigerant and every six or even three months for larger systems.
Systems smaller than 3kg should still have regular tests. Records must then be kept of whether gas has been topped up, removed or recovered. Penalties for noncompliance have not yet been set but will be "effective, proportionate and dissuasive". Systems that contain R22 gases, which are partially halogenated chloroflurocarbons, will also be phased out over the next few years.
Ozzy Niyazi, Business Development Manager at Quantech Environmental, UK suppliers of air conditioning units, certified engineers and testers, has the following advice:
- Make sure you have a proper maintenance contract with a reputable, certified service provider.
- Get records and all relevant documentation from the person who checks your system to show compliance.
- Check your maintenance contract includes general call-outs not just the scheduled checks. If not, then check the call-out rates before you sign.
- Do nothing – it could cost you money in fines and tarnish your environmental reputation if you end up in court as a result of noncompliance.
- Think avoiding tests will save you money. Dirty filters mean far more electricity being drawn by the fans in the AC unit, leading to significantly increased energy costs.