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As we get close to Valentine’s Day, Russell Jones explores the subject of legislation and why it should be closer to all our hearts

OK, OK. Legislation is not normally a subject of adoration, with most seeing it as pain rather than gain, and I can’t imagine many legislators receiving too many anonymous Valentine’s Day cards, but there are serious reasons why we have rules.

If you understand the basics of rules and regulations, and find ways to embrace them in your business life, then you can gain a serious advantage over your competitors.

There’s a reason you’re restricted to 20 mph around schools, and a reason you can’t fit your own gas boiler or fiddle with your own electrics. 

There are also good sound reasons why not just anyone is allowed inside an operating theatre or able to prescribe medication to their families.

And in terms of the food we need to sustain us each day, there are laws and regulations which seek to stop unsafe or unsavoury things getting on our plate.

Of course, none of this legislation works if there is no-one to police it, or if society has not been able to meet the rules it sets itself – such as air quality in our cities, but the principles are sound and place restrictions for the good of the majority as well as an obligation on all of us as individuals to play our part.

Building legislation

April sees the start of MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) which has been one of the most popular subjects here on The Hub.

Commercial landlords who have got to grips with the new legislation will already have taken on board the upgrades to their properties needed to comply.

The added benefits to those who have embraced this legislation is that they now have a building operating much more efficiently and, they are more likely to have happier tenants.

If you are a commercial landlord or a tenant of a rented office and you haven’t yet got to grips with MEES, then there is not long left before the deadline – or the fines start to kick in.

F-Gas and R32

One of the other most popular subjects on The Hub at the moment is the advent of R32 refrigerant air conditioning, which has been introduced as part of the Phase Down of refrigerants with a high GWP (Global Warming Potential).

In the air conditioning industry, there has been some talk of F-Gas being a bit toothless as it was unclear who is ‘policing’ the policy.

Actually though, I think F-Gas is helping facilitate rapid change in air conditioning and refrigeration markets because it seeks to limit the availability of high GWP refrigerants.

This makes the regulations highly effective and has led manufacturers to push development of new equipment with different systems and refrigerants – It is also the primary reason that we are seeing the price of R410A rise so dramatically.  It is a simple supply demand balance, less supply (quota limits) equals higher prices.

For air conditioning engineers and major corporations who have understood and embraced F-gas, they will not only find themselves ahead of their competition, they will also be benefitting from modern equipment that almost always includes increased performance and controllability.

Energy labels

As consumers, we are now all faced with a choice when we purchase new equipment.  From TV’s, washing machines, houses and, slowly, the cars we drive, we are now starting to see an energy label appear on everything.

This means we can still make the choice to buy the cheapest, knowing that it is likely to break down quicker or cost more to run in the long term, but we can also choose to buy the most efficient, safe in the knowledge that it is likely to cost less to run and will likely work for longer.

Yet there remain areas where more legislation is needed, such as the rented housing sector.

Unsafe rented homes

On the 19th February, just five days after the infamous ‘day of love’, Parliament will be debating the second reading of a private member’s bill, which seeks to improve standards and empower tenants living in unsafe rented properties.

Citizens Advice estimate that there are 8.4 million households living in rented accommodation in England alone, yet the current laws governing whether a home is considered fit for human habitation apply only where rent is less than £52 per year, or £80 in London – which in 2018, seems just a little low, to say the least!

The bill before Parliament on the 19th seeks to update this legislation so all tenants are protected.  It is the third time in the last few years where the law has sought to bring basic housing rights in line with the safety conditions we would all expect in the workplace, or in the products we purchase.

Good for the good

Like other legislation, this will be seen by some as an attempt to ‘stifle the market’ but it will also help good landlords distinguish themselves from any unscrupulous peers and stand out because the bill intends to focus only on homes with the worst standards.

It also seeks to empower tenants to some degree so that they no longer have to live in damp, unsafe conditions without being given a voice, and will have a legal framework to tackle bad landlords, or easier ways to force issues of safety into the public domain.

Coming on the back of the horrendous Grenfell Tower disaster, it must now be right for the country to focus on this and aim to set out minimum safety standards for rented accommodation.

Surely everyone will be happy to embrace that?

Russell Jones is Content and Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric, Living Environment Systems in the UK.

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