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Improving Air Conditioning Efficiency in Government Buildings

With air conditioning accounting for around a third of a building’s annual electricity bill, any local council running large buildings has an incentive to find ways of increasing the efficiency of their systems.

Local authorities in the UK are required to monitor and report their carbon emissions and must also adhere to the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012.  These came into force in January 2013, implementing the requirements of an updated European Union (EU) Directive which seeks to reduce the level of carbon emissions from public buildings by 2018.

Under the regulations, air conditioning with an effective rated output of more than 12kW – as a rule of thumb, this will provide cooling for an area of around 200m2 – must be inspected by an energy assessor.

The timescale for the initial inspection depends on the age and size of the installation: it varies slightly for a system with a larger output of more than 250kW, such as a council chamber.  In all cases, subsequent inspections must be no more than five years apart.

The regulations define an air conditioning system as ‘a combination of all components required to provide a form of air treatment in which the temperature is controlled… and includes systems which combine such air treatment with the control of ventilation, humidity and air cleanliness’. Components in the system which have been fitted for heating purposes are excluded.  Although the regulations are intended for systems designed for the comfort of workers occupying the building, systems providing refrigeration for process applications such as server rooms need to be inspected too.

The assessor examines the equipment, controls and also any documentation which helps him or her to understand the system and its maintenance history.  The assessor estimates whether the system is the correct size for its cooling operations and also offers advice on how the system’s performance could be improved.

There is no legal requirement to act on the suggestions in the inspection report, but it will include information which will help the building manager to identify energy-saving opportunities, such as the adequacy of equipment maintenance procedures.
Moreover, Energy Performance Certificates must be displayed prominently in any building visited on at least a daily basis by members of the public – a criterion which applies to many council premises.

Of course, it is much better not to wait for an inspection to find out how efficient your system is or to ensure that it is the best one for your requirements.  The design engineers at Transcool Systems will design and install ventilation, free cooling, full mechanical cooling or a combination of both, customised for the building in question, following a full site survey taking into account the organisation’s space restrictions, equipment needs and energy-saving goals.

All our bespoke air handling units and control panels are tested for efficiency and quality.

Find out more about our services by contacting us today on 01903 733911 or via info@transcoolsystems.co.uk.