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The high cost of ignoring air conditioning tests

The law compelling companies to subject air conditioning equipment to inspection is a good one. It is practical, operable, has positive implications and outcomes and does not cost an excessive amount of money.

It can be seen as self-funding, even profit-making - and it is the responsibility of the industry to pull together in order to convey this message.

Despite all this, a huge proportion of building managers are ignoring the requirement and some are even going so far as to break the law to avoid it.

All air conditioning systems capable of providing more than 250 kW of cooling should have had an inspection nearly two years ago and those with smaller systems (over 12 kW as a total of all systems added together) must have an official inspection by January 2011.

Yet figures produced by CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers) in April this year show that only about 5 per cent of companies at that time had complied with the law on this subject.

But air conditioning inspections should not be viewed with a negative attitude. The essence of the legislation is that it should highlight shortcomings, praise efficiency and recommend changes and updates that will save energy and thus money.

The inspections are carried out by trained assessors who have a crystal clear objective: to inspect records of systems, plant sizes and settings as well as the building requirements in relation to its needs and operation.

The findings are put in a report that will form part of the building’s history and provide an overview of the whole building, recommending actions that could reduce carbon emissions - hence money. It might be possible to put these recommendations into place immediately or there could be long-term considerations regarding plant life and replacement.

Building managers who enter into the spirit of these inspections are the ones who will profit from them the most. By co-operating fully and furnishing all the information asked for, both before and during the visit, the quality of the report will be raised to the highest level thus delivering the greatest savings.

So why would anyone not go ahead and organise an inspection? The answer must be that they have very little information on what it entails and what benefits it can bring. Therefore everyone in the industry should spread the word wherever and whenever possible. Who knows, it could repay them with some extra business.

Simon Keel is product executive for Daikin UK