Monday, December 11, 2017

BESA launches public sector forum

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has created a forum for public sector employees from London and the South East involved in the specification, maintenance and management of equipment and services for buildings.

The Forum has been set up in response to growing demand from estates, facilities and property managers for expert advice and technical support to help them improve the operating performance of their building services and meet challenging mandatory energy efficiency and sustainability targets.

BESA will host a series of meetings at its new Grade II listed headquarters in St Katharine’s Dock, London each with an industry expert focussed on a specific area of building engineering.

The first meeting will take place on February 22nd and will look at the considerable challenges posed by the European F Gas Regulations. 2018 will see a steep reduction in the availability of HFC gases used in many types of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment as the industry transitions to low global warming alternatives.

Some owners will either have to convert their systems to work with the new gases or replace them completely. Graeme Fox, BESA’s senior mechanical engineer, will explain the changes to the public sector group and outline the options open to them.

The price of refrigerant gases has already risen sharply with some now double the cost they were in 2016.  Mr Fox will look at the implications of switching from widely used HFC gases to ‘natural’ alternatives like carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons; or newly emerging refrigerants like HFOs.

“2018 is going to be a pivotal year for anyone owning and operating acr equipment,” said Mr Fox. “There will be a ‘cliff edge’ fall in the availability of R404A, for example, and unless users are prepared they face the nightmare scenario of having to shut down equipment or paying through the nose for diminishing supplies of top up gas for essential maintenance.

“There can be some complex technical issues involved in switching to new gases such as flammability or high operating pressures,” he added.

It has been a legal requirement since July 2009 for all businesses that install, maintain or service stationary equipment containing or designed to contain f gas refrigerants to obtain an F Gas company certificate.  Refrigerant suppliers are also required to ensure anyone buying gas from them is certified.

Mr Fox will also explain the role of Refcom, which was set up by BESA in 1994 and was appointed by the government as the certification body to manage this process.  It works with the Environment Agency to ensure the F Gas Regulations are properly enforced and refrigerant reclamation is carried out. 

It now accounts for more than 80% of company certificates covering the refrigerant handling market, which makes it a key component in the UK’s efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases and tackle global warming.

“The most important piece of advice we will be giving to the public sector attendees will be to ensure they are using properly qualified and certified refrigeration engineers,” said BESA’s key accounts manager Kevin Kingaby, who is organising the Forum.

“That way they can be assured of working within the law and of getting the best possible professional service.”

BESA is already operating a public sector forum in Scotland, which holds regular meetings attended by all the major local councils.

“We will be looking to replicate the success of BESA Scotland by providing support and advice to public sector employees across the South before expanding into other parts of the country,” said Mr Kingaby. “We will cover a range of building engineering issues vital to all public sector building managers.”

To register your interest in attending the London Forum, please email:

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