Building and Engineering Services Association head of technical and safety, Bob Towse has said that fewer than than 5 per cent of air conditioning systems have been inspected, and the others are in breach of legislation.
Systems with a cooling capacity of more than 12 kW installed on or after 1 January 2008 should have been inspected within five years of installation. Older systems with output in excess of 250 kW should have been inspected by January 2009 and those above 12 kW inspected by January 2011. The requirements for mandatory inspections were brought in within the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
“Very few building owners are even aware of their legal responsibility, while local authorities – who are charged with enforcing this law – are not doing a great job of it,” said Mr Towse. “Apart from the potential legal penalties, building owners and managers are missing out on the energy efficiency benefits that are flagged up by the inspections.” Mr Towse believes the figures show that the government is in danger of killing off the air conditioning system regime, which has doubled in cost.
With maximum penalties of £300, this can be less than the cost of an inspection, says the B&ES. Insurance companies are also reported to be offering policies to cover building owners and operators who might be caught out by the directive. BSRIA chief executive Andrew Eastwell says this issue is the tip of the iceberg and another example of the UK government’s failure to “committing wholeheartedly” to EU directives.