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Air conditioning inspection demand ‘almost non-existent’

The technical director of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineersis so concerned at the “almost non-existent” demand for air conditioning inspections he intends to highlight the issue in a speech next month.

Hywel Davies is due to speak about energy performance certificates (EPCs) at an event organised by the Cibse/Ashrae groupand the Cibse Energy Performance of Buildings Group.

But he is so worried about the way EPCs and display energy certificates (DECs) have overshadowed air conditioning inspections that he plans to devote a significant section of his speech to the subject.

“I don’t think clients have got their heads around this,” he said. “People think they do not have to do anything until next year.

“They are worried about the cost, but all the reports I have read indicate that if the recommendations from the report are implemented in full the costs will be paid back usually within 12 months.”

The inspections are part of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which states that complex air conditioning systems greater than 250kW must have been inspected by January 2009. Training for complex system assessors is currently provided by Cibse and Building Engineering Services Competence Accreditation (Besca).

David Cocking, from Arrow Energy Solutions, said requests for DECs had grown “exponentially” in the past month, but air conditioning was being forgotten.

He said: “The number of enquiries I am having for air conditioning inspections is very low – almost non-existent. I am occasionally getting enquiries from blue chip clients, who might have a compliance manager, but very little in terms of firm requests.”

Geoffrey McGowan, from Demeva, said: “I was expecting more of a take-up. We are hoping that when people realise they have to do this we will start to get some ’phone calls, but it is very quiet.”

Darren Jones, from Efficient Air Conditioning, said: “The number of enquiries is starting to take off from facilities managers at big organisations but we are not seeing smaller companies come forward at the moment.”

The assessors say the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) must do more in the way of promotion and enforcement. A spokesman for Besca said: “There has not been a huge demand for courses yet, but the message is still making its way out into the market.

'We have only just started marketing the Besca Energy Assessors’ Scheme, which is the only one that certifies assessors to inspect simple and complex ac systems.

“This is a significant business opportunity for air conditioning engineers, and we hope that eventually they will recognise this. The Government could be doing much more to get the message out to the trade, to installers and to bigger clients.”

A spokesman for DCLG said: “We are committed to an advertising campaign and communicating our strategy for the roll-out. We keep our strategy under review through talking to stakeholders. At the moment we are not unduly concerned about any specific problems.”