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Planning for the future

Contractors’ association AREA has launched a guide to the new F-Gas regulations, aimed at clarifying the various forthcoming changes. Graeme Fox gives the reasoning behind the publication

AREA recently launched its guide on the new F-Gas regulation with the aim of clarifying the forthcoming changes for engineers who work in the refrigeration, AC and heat pump sectors.

The new F-Gas Regulation includes many changes that will become reality as early as 1 January 2015 and will substantially affect the content and performance of their activities, so it’s vitally important that our members, and the wider industry, are prepared for the shake-up.

Therefore, the aim of the guide is to provide a tool that explains and clarifies the new rules, their impact and their practical application.

The guide addresses all aspects relevant to contractors.

For each theme, it highlights what the impact is on contractors and it makes suggestions as to what they should do.

It also includes useful tools, such as a conversion table weight-CO2-eq for the most commonly used refrigerants, a flowchart on leak check frequency and a table summarising certification requirements.

However, the guide is not just a reaction to the current set of regulations.

AREA was involved in the revision of the F-Gas Regulation from the very first steps, back in 2009, with the review of the regulation, when a proposal came out in 2011 and we discussed our working programme on it, and the production of a guidance document was immediately identified.

Work started as soon as a compromise on the final text was agreed in December 2013, five months before the official publication of the new regulation.

The exercise was piloted by our Task Force F-Gas under the coordination of our Secretariat.
We divided the regulation into “thematic areas”, each of which was led by a member. Once the guide was assembled, it was submitted to our members and we received many comments and questions. After that, we submitted it to the European Commission to make sure we had a common understanding of the new rules. This exchange proved very useful for us but also for them.

Timing was crucial as we wanted to give as much notice as possible to our contractors for them to be ready by the regulation’s entry into force.

All this took nine months, but an early start made it possible to be ready for Chillventa.

Clear explanation

There are two main purposes of the guide. First, we want to provide our contractors with explanations on what the new rules mean for them and their customers. They must have a clear and practical understanding of what will change in their daily work from 1 January 2015. We explain what changes, how, by when and how they should get prepared. We also provide some useful tools, such as the conversion table weight/Co2-eq for the most common HFCs for leak checks and leakage detection systems.

The second purpose is to give our input and opinion on how some requirements should be interpreted and applied.

There, the objective is to foster uniform and effective application of the same provision. For instance, we refer to the French system for the application of the requirements on delivery of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

We also give some ideas to ensure that non-hermetically sealed systems will indeed be installed by certified professionals only.

The structure we put in place to produce the guide was specifically aimed at making sure our members’ requests and questions were all accounted for.

One recurrent demand was to identify actions that contractors needed to take before the new regulation is even into force.

In September, we communicated specifically on three key obligations that require preparation from contractors and operators already now: leakage checking, leakage detection systems and delivery of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

This was important as our members are bombarded with questions. Everybody – contractors and their customers – wants to know what they have to do to be ready on 1 January.

Regarding the impact on contractors, there are there are many within the regulation, but I would identify two major ones that are particularly significant.

The first is leakage checking.

The change from weights to CO2-equivalent will have important consequences, particularly on currently installed equipment.

Everybody works with weights. The shift will take time and require a good communication between contractors and their customers.

The second impact on contractors is the HFC phase-down. In the years to come there will be less and less virgin HFC available and it will be more and more expensive.

Users will be faced with challenging choices to make on their equipment and the role of contractors as the interface between users and manufacturers will be even more important.

Graeme Fox is AREA past president and chairman of the F-Gas Task Force.

AREA Practical Guide on the application of the new F-Gas Regulation to refrigeration, air conditioning & heat pump contractors is available at feat

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