Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RAC) systems are one of the largest sources of fluorinated greenhouse gas (F-gas) emissions. F-gases commonly used in RAC systems are:
Most of the key F-gas obligations lie with the operator. An operator is a person or business who has actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment. This includes:
The owner of the equipment is usually the operator unless such functions have been transferred.
If you operate RAC equipment containing F-gases, you must meet legal obligations.
Prevent leakage - where it is technically feasible and does not entail disproportionate cost, you must prevent leakage of F-gas refrigerants, and repair any discovered leaks as soon as possible.
Check leaks regularly - how often you are required to check (using certified personnel) depends on the type of system and the equipment charge CO2 equivalent of F-gas refrigerants used.
Leak testing frequencies
|Equipment charge||Frequency of leak checks||Frequency of checks if leak detection fitted|
|<5 tonnes CO2 equivalent||N/A||N/A|
|5 to <10 tonnes CO2 equivalent||If hermetically sealed N/A otherwise 12 months||If hermetically sealed N/A Otherwise 24 months|
|10 - <50 tonnes CO2 equivalent||12 Months||24 Months|
|50 – 500 tonnes CO2 equivalent||6 months||12 months|
|> 500 tonnes CO2 equivalent||3 months||6 months|
From 1 January 2017, equipment that contains less than 3 kg of f-gas (or if hermetically sealed contains less than 6kg of f-gas) will have to be leak tested if the equipment charge in tonnes CO2 equivalent is greater than 5 tonnes. There was previously a derogation from this requirement.
The system must be checked within a month after a leak has been repaired to ensure that the repair has been effective.
You must fit a leak detection system to equipment with a contained charge > 500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This system must be checked every 6 months.
You must keep records on all systems containing F-gases including:
If F-gas refrigerant is removed from any system, it must be properly recovered by appropriately certified personnel during servicing and decommissioning. You must also ensure that all F-gases that are not recycled or reclaimed are disposed of correctly.
Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment must be correctly labelled. The label must be clearly visible, for example close to a service point. This will include:
From 1 January 2017 the label must also indicate:
Any personnel carrying out leak checking, gas recovery, installation, maintenance or servicing of equipment containing F-gas must be appropriately qualified.
The person physically taking delivery of F-gas containers does not need to be qualified unless they also perform installation, servicing or repair work.
Businesses that install, maintain or service the equipment must also hold the relevant company certification. The designated certification bodies in the UK are Refcom, Quidos and Bureau Veritas. To get a company certificate you must be able to show that your staff who perform the relevant work hold the correct F-gas qualification, you have the correct tools and procedures available and you have enough staff to cover the work you do.
If your business produces, reclaims, imports or exports more than 1 tonne of F-gas per year you must complete a report and send it to the European Environment Agency and:
Reporting to the European Environment Agency is done online
Use of non-refillable containers for transporting and storing F-gases is banned. You must not place non-refillable containers on the market, except for those manufactured (filled with refrigerant) before 4 July 2007.
You may wish to consider alternatives to F-gases. However, alternatives may also have restrictions on their use and you should consider the overall environmental impact (eg taking into account energy efficiency) and factors such as health and safety when making your choice. Commonly used alternative refrigerants include:
The phase down of F-gas will mean that progressively less will be available over coming years, starting with the F-gases with the highest GWP.
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