The F Gas regulations were introduced the European Union to phase out (and eventually ban) the use of fluorinated gases which can damage the earth’s atmosphere and lead to global warming.
These regulations continue to impact the UK, even though we are no longer part of the EU.
The regulations began by targeting the gases with high global warming potential (GWP), and over the past decade years the higher GWP gases have been phased down – or out.
We’ve already seen the effects of the regulations in the HVAC sector with the banning of R22 refrigerant in new equipment in 2004.
It’s vital to ensure you are working within the rules as there are heavy fines for breaches
The onus is on you
Since that time, other refrigerants have also been phased down, and across the HVAC sector new, low-GWP refrigerants are being used.
For example, R32 is found in systems such as Mitsubishi Electric’s Hybrid VRF system and new HFOs (hydrofluoro olefins) are being applied in equipment such as chillers.
Under the F Gas rules, the onus is on the ‘operators’ of equipment containing refrigerants to ensure they comply.
So, it’s vital to ensure that as a building owner or manager you are working within the F Gas rules because the Environment Agency has powers to enforce heavy fines for breaches.
Compliance includes ensuring that equipment with refrigerants is regularly checked for leaks and that the refrigerants are always handled correctly to reduce the likelihood of leaks to the atmosphere.
Elite and certified
At Mitsubishi Electric Service and Maintenance, we ensure that our customers’ systems are serviced and maintained by expert REFCOM Elite F-Gas certified engineers.
This is a nationally-recognised scheme, established by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) so clients can be assured they are benefitting from the most up-to-date industry knowledge and best practice.
Mitsubishi Electric also provides training on refrigerants through the BESA Academy.
But maintaining equipment such as chillers isn’t simply about complying with current F Gas regulations.
One important effect of F Gas rules is that as refrigerants go through the phase down process, their price inevitably rises as they become less readily available.
As a result, maintenance and repair costs can rise.
A knowledgeable maintenance team can advise you about upcoming changes to the rules, so that you can be prepared for these potential price increases.
When to replace
And having the inside track on refrigerants may also help with decisions about replacing older equipment to make use of the newer, low-GWP refrigerants on offer.
And this is another important point about F Gas regulations: They are impacting the design and manufacture of systems and equipment.
Mitsubishi Electric has already introduced a range of products that make the use of low-GWP refrigerants and will continue to innovate in this field. The new refrigerants have different performance characteristics when used in products such as chillers, for example.
As a result, it’s important to ensure that they are commissioned by engineers who understand the latest technologies and how to get the optimum performance out of them. For Mitsubishi Electric’s Service and Maintenance team, it’s easy to be aware of these issues because they’re fully trained on the products.
Building managers face an array of legislation and ensuring compliance can feel like spinning a lot of plates.
But by selecting a maintenance partner with expertise in air conditioning, there is one less thing to worry about.
Geoff Turton is commercial life cycle solutions director