FETA Sets Out HVACR Industry Agenda

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Published: 10 October 2016


Russell Beattie
Russell Beattie, CEO of FETA
​FETA, the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations, set out key industry priorities in the week that the UK government stated when it aims to start the country out of the European Union. 
​Refrigerant legislation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), commercial building running costs and the industry's approach to the recent Brexit vote are at the top of FETA's agenda.

​F Gas regulations and A2L refrigerants

​The ever-present topic of refrigerants in the cooling industry took centre stage of President of the British Refrigeration Association, John Smith (Technical Director with Beijer Ref), explained the landscape. 

F Gas legislation is forcing manufacturers, contractors and end users to reconsider how they will implement changes to cooling systems which use refrigerants with low global warming potentials. Flourocarbon refrigerants will be phased out soon and the industry needs to adapt to using gases which have very low GWPs. 

Hydro Fluoro Olefins (HFO) have lower GWPs and less flammable (so-called 'mildly flammable' refrigerants) than existing Class 2 and Class 3 refrigerants. The new classification 'A2L' came into force to differentiate them from more flammable refrigerants. A2L refrigerants have a lower burning velocity. Nevertheless, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) only recognises flammable or non-flammable refrigerants. 

John Smith stated:
John_Smith
John Smith, President of the British Refrigeration Association
​“The F Gas regulation will require the use of refrigerants with significantly lower GWP in order to meet phase down requirements. Whilst HFO blends can be made non-flammable, there will always be a GWP penalty.
 
“The industry must face up to the need to make use of these fluids and understand the implications of their use.”
​​There is a major challenge with A2L refrigerants. It is not possible to retrofit them, therefore the industry will need to use new systems to be able to use them. 
John Smith pointed out that before A2L refrigerants become widely used in cooling systems because of the F Gas legislation, there is some leeway for the industry. Current A1 refrigerants with low GWPs will bridge the gap between now and when the phase out deadline arrives. 

To help the industry get ready for using A2L refrigerants, FETA said that it will soon bringing out new guidance within weeks. The association is working across its member organisations to anticipate the deadlines and challenges, and it is working with the HSE, AREA and EPEE to produce reports, help and guides. 

John Smith added:
​“The industry needs clear guidance on the use of A2L refrigerants in the field. FETA recognises that this issue is pertinent to several associations and is interacting with other organisations whilst also discussing the subject with the HSE in order to understand its viewpoint.
 
“Put simply, the F Gas Regulations will not work without the introduction of A2L refrigerants and the biggest challenge will be found in the air conditioning sector, where there is no non-flammable alternative to R410A.”

​Indoor Air Quality

​FETA CEO, Russell Beattie, highlighted the challenge with indoor air quality and growing awareness of its importance. Most news and legislation deals with the quality of air outside the buildings where we live and work. There is plenty of legislation which focuses on how we sit at our desks, the brightness of our screens, or the temperature of the rooms we occupy. 

However, little attention is paid to the quality of the air we breath in the buildings where we work and live.  

Russell Beattie said:
​“IAQ is a broad topic and it involves a number of Government departments. Greater awareness can only be seen as a positive and FETA will continue to communicate the importance of IAQ to a wider audience.”
​FETA is working with its members to update IAQ guidance and has recently published white papers through its Humidity Group. 

​Addressing poor building performance

Malcolm Anson
Malcolm Anson
​The perennial challenge of the building services industry of raising the importance of the long term cost of operating a building was addressed by Malcolm Anson, president of the Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA).

He began by saying:
​"The focus on capital costs for construction projects is leaving building owners and managers with properties that cost them more in terms of energy and maintenance in the long-term."
​This so-called 'value engineering' is when contractors are forced to strip out costs, such simple building controls, because of competition on price, which could save far more money for the building owners or occupants over the whole life of the building. 

​Malcolm added:
​"So often, BCIA members find that the removal of sensors for temperature or CO2, for example, means that heating and cooling are left to be operated manually which almost inevitably leads to higher operating costs."
​To address the problem, the BCIA aims to help more people in the market about the importance of looking at the cost of the building over its lifetime. Malcolm pointed out a ratio of 10-80-10, where 10% of the lifetime costs of a building are to build, 80% of costs of the running costs, and 10% are decommissioning costs.

​When the running costs are such a large proportion of a building's lifetime costs, putting so much emphasis on the cost of building it seems short-sighted. 

​Being Balanced about Brexit

​Mike Nankivell, president of the Heat Pump Association, spoke on behalf of FETA about their approach to Brexit. He called on the government to 'think carefully' about any changes it might consider as a result of the vote to leave the EU. 

FETA is keen to keep important links to groups in Europe concerned with product standards and regulations. Russell Beattie added:
​“We urge the Government to think carefully before dismantling agreed policies and to consult with industry before making changes to the existing regulatory landscape.”

“We urge the Government to think carefully before dismantling agreed policies and to consult with industry before making changes to the existing regulatory landscape.”
​He continued:
​​“This is not just about manufacturers exporting to the EU and keeping the same design criteria. Ultimately it is UK customers who would pay the price when it comes to nationally specific products.”
​FETA has a vital role to play in keeping the heating and cooling industry's interests in mind when it comes to Brexit. Beattie concluded:
​“Our Trade Association links within Europe will be even more important following BREXIT and we are keen to play our part in helping to strike the right balance. We’ve had almost half a century of treaties and agreements, covering thousands of different subjects – it is vital that the Government carefully considers the potential repercussions before making changes.”
To help industry professionals keep up to date with the fast changing sector, FETA is promoting the Building Services Summit on 23rd November 2016. Find out more details here: http://buildingservicessummit.co.uk