Guidance for Stationary Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning

The F-Gas regulation. This is EC Regulation 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases). This Regulation aims to reduce emissions of HFC’s, PFC’s and SF6. Many organisations use HFC’s for refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The key obligations in this Regulation applied from July 2007. The Ozone Regulation. This is EC Regulation 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. This regulation came into force on 1st January 2010 and replaced the old Ozone Regulation EC 2037/2000 which has now been revoked. This Regulation is aimed at phasing-out the use of ozone depleting chemicals. The only Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) still in use in most organisations are HCFC refrigerants, especially R22, which will be phased-out under this Regulation by 2015. The use of virgin HCFC’s for maintenance of RAC systems was banned on 1st January 2010. In Great Britain, the person having control of the equipment containing the F-gas refrigerant (the ‘operator’), typically a company, is likely to have responsibility. Also, any company employing personnel involved in working on equipment that contains or is designed to contain F-gases must ensure that they have the appropriate qualifications and company certification. The EC F-Gas Regulation defines the operator as follows: ‘ Operator means the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems covered by this Regulation’.

Table 1 – Summary of EC F Gas Regulation Obligations for RAC Systems

SectionObligationApplicability to RAC Systems (for systems using F gas Refrigerants)
4.1Take steps to prevent F gas leakage and repair detected leakage as soon as possible.All stationary systems
4.2Regularly check for leakage.Stationary systems 3 kg or more
4.3Fit automatic leak detection system.Stationary systems above 300 kg
4.4Keep certain records about refrigeration plant that uses F gases.Stationary systems 3 kg or more
4.5Recover F gases during plant servicing and maintenance, and at end of plant life.All stationary systems
4.6Use appropriately qualified personnel to carry out installation, servicing and maintenance, and leakage checking. Have company certification if employing personnel to undertake installation, maintenance or servicing of RAC systems. Further obligations for companies employing these personnel or wishing to take delivery of containers of F gas.All stationary systems
4.7Label new equipment adjacent to service point/information and in instruction manuals.All stationary systems
4.8Placing on the market of non-refillable containers used to service equipment is banned from July 2007, except for those shown to be manufactured before that time.All systems

4.1 General obligation to prevent leakage Article 3.1 Applicable from 4th July 2007 to all sizes of RAC system. Using all measures which are technically feasible and do not entail disproportionate cost operators must: (a) prevent leakage of F gas refrigerants and (b) as soon as possible repair any detected leakage. 4.2 Regular leakage checking Article 3.2 Applicable from 4th July 2007 to RAC systems containing 3 kg or more. Equipment containing 3 kg or more of F gas refrigerant must be checked for leakage by certified personnel on a regular basis. This threshold rises to 6 kg for hermetically sealed systems that are labelled ‘checked for leakage’ means that the equipment or system is examined for leakage using direct or indirect measuring methods, focusing on those parts of the equipment or system most likely to leak. The frequency of testing depends on the refrigerant charge and system type. Table 2 summarises the leakage checking frequencies. Individual plants must be rechecked within one month after a leak has been repaired to ensure that the repair has been effective.

Table 2 – Leak Testing Frequencies

FrequencyNormal SystemsHermetically sealed systems
NoneLess than 3kgLess than 6kg
Annual3kg to 30 kg6kg to 30kg
6 Monthly*30kg to 300kg30kg to 300kg
QuarterlyGreater than 300kgGreater than 300kg
*half this frequency if fitted with automatic leak detection

4.4 Maintaining records Article 3.6 Applicable from 4th July 2007 to RAC systems containing 3 kg or more. Records must be kept on each system with more than 3 kg of HFC refrigerant. The records must include:

  • The quantity and type of F gas refrigerants installed in each system,
  • Any quantities of refrigerant added,
  • The quantity of refrigerant recovered during servicing, maintenance and final disposal.
  • The identity of the company or personnel who performed the servicing or maintenance, as well as the dates and results of leakage checks and leakage detection system checks.

These records shall be made available on request to the competent authority and to the Commission. 4.5 Gas recovery Article 4.1 Applicable from 4th July 2007 to all sizes of RAC system. If refrigerant needs to be removed from a system (e.g. to gain access to part of a system for maintenance or during system decommissioning at the end of life) it must be properly recovered by appropriately certified personnel. After recovery the refrigerant can be reused or sent for reclamation or destruction. Recovered refrigerant is classified as Hazardous Waste and comes under the UK Hazardous Waste Regulations. Waste producers have a ‘duty of care’ for the waste they handle and must ensure they use the appropriate documentation and consign and transfer waste appropriately. 4.6 Use of appropriately trained personnel; Personnel and Company Certification Article 5. Applicable from 4th July 2007 to all sizes of RAC system. Personnel carrying out leak checking, gas recovery, plant installation, maintenance or servicing on equipment that contains or is designed to contain F gas refrigerant must have an appropriate qualification. To take delivery of containers of F gas, for the activities described above, an organisation needs to employ appropriately certificated personnel.

Table 3 – Summary of EC Ozone Regulation Obligations for RAC Systems

SectionObligationApplicability to RAC Systems (for systems using F gas Refrigerants)
5.1Stop using virgin HCFC refrigerant for plant maintenance from 31st December 2009. Only use recycled or reclaimed HCFC’s for plant maintenance from 1st January 2010 until 31st December 2014.All systems
5.2Stop using recycled and reclaimed HCFC refrigerant for plant maintenance from 1st January 2015.All systems
5.3Take steps to prevent HCFC leakage and repair detected leakage as soon as possible and at any event within 14 days.All stationary systems
5.4Regularly check for leakage, see Table 2 for details. Please note there is no requirement to fit automatic leak detection on systems containing HCFC refrigerants and if fitted the leak checking frequencies are not reduced.Stationary systems 3 kg or more
5.5Record keeping. There are a number of record keeping requirements which depend on the size of the system and whether recycled or reclaimed HCFC refrigerants have been added.All systems
5.6Label equipment to which recycled or reclaimed HCFC’s have been added.All systems
5.7Recover ODS during plant servicing and maintenance and at end of plant life.All systems
5.8Use appropriately trained personnel to carry out servicing and maintenance, leakage checking and recovery.All systems
5.9Non-refillable containers shall not be used to transport HCFC refrigerant.All systems

5.1 Phase-out of virgin HCFC’s Article 5 and Article 11.4 and 11.5. Applicable from 1st January 2010 to all sizes of RAC system. After 2009 virgin HCFC’s cannot be used for plant servicing and maintenance. This applies to all virgin HCFC’s, even if purchased and stockpiled before the deadline. After the ban on the use of virgin comes into place only recycled or reclaimed HCFC’s may be used in servicing and maintenance of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. The following definitions apply: Recycled HCFC – is recovered HCFC gas that has been subject to a basic cleaning process (this might include mechanical filtering and moisture removal). Reclaimed HCFC – is recovered HCFC gas that has been chemically reprocessed to a specified standard. Recycled HCFC’s may only be used by either the undertaking which carried out the recovery (in most cases the refrigeration contractor) or the undertaking for which the recovery was carried out (the owner). Recycled HCFC’s may not be placed on the market. Reclaimed HCFC’s may be placed on the wider market and used by undertakings other than the original contractor and owner. Reclaimed HCFC’s must be held in containers labelled as such, with information on the batch number and name and address of the reclamation facility. What is meant by ‘installation’? ‘installation’ means joining two or more pieces of equipment or circuits containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gas refrigerant, with a view to assembling a system in the location where it will be operated, including the action by which refrigerant conductors of a system are joined together to complete a refrigerant circuit irrespective of the need to charge the system after assembly. What is meant by ‘maintenance or servicing’? ‘maintenance or servicing’ means all activities, excluding recovery and checks for leakage, that entail breaking into the circuits containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gases, in particular supplying the system with fluorinated greenhouse gases, removing one or more pieces of circuit or equipment, re-assembling two or more pieces of circuit or equipment, as well as repairing leakages. Relevant information for RAC system users F-gas Support has produced a set of information sheets that are intended to help companies understand all their obligations under the EC F-gas and Ozone Regulations. Further information can be found here To learn more about F-Gas regulations click here to read an article recently written by Scott Gleed and published in Construction News. For all enquiries relating to the F Gas and ODS Regulations contact the Environment Agency: National Customer Contact Centre Tel no: 03708 506 506

This information provided is intended as guidance and must not be taken as formal legal advice nor as a definitive statement of the law. Ultimately only the courts can decide on legal questions and matters of legal interpretation. If you have continuing concerns you should seek legal advice from your own lawyers.