Wednesday, July 20, 2016

REFCOM revamp reflects industry thirst for knowledge

The industry’s main refrigerant handling certification scheme Refcom has upgraded and relaunched its website to reflect growing demand from contractors for greater technical information and online support.

The relaunch means that applications and renewals for Refcom membership can now be done online. The new site also boasts an enhanced guidance and advice section, which will be regularly updated by Refcom’s in-house experts and via feedback from members and the industry at large.

 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. This is in line with the European F gas Regulation, which was developed to reduce the amount of global warming gases being released to atmosphere, and is now embedded in UK law.

Refcom, which was originally set up as a voluntary registration scheme by the HVCA (now the Building Engineering Services Association) in 1994, was appointed by the government to provide mandatory certification for the refrigeration and air conditioning sectors when the F gas Regulation came into force.


BESA members were heavily involved in the scoping and setting up of the refrigerant handling regulations and Refcom was integral to the shaping of the laws that now apply to all UK businesses carrying out installation, maintenance or servicing of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning or heat pump equipment (SRACHP work).

Refcom has been working with the Environment Agency since 2009 to ensure the regulations are properly enforced and reclamation carried out and today it accounts for more than 80% of UK company refrigerant handling certificates.

In 2014, the F gas Regulations were revised and updated to reflect the higher professional standards set out in Refcom’s voluntary ‘Elite’ scheme, whose members are able to prove to owners/operators via independent third party accreditation that they are competent in the installation, commissioning, decommissioning and/or maintenance of any system containing refrigerant gas.

As well as being certified safe refrigerant handlers, Elite members are licensed waste carriers and are fully compliant with all current legal requirements. Their procedures are also fully auditable and they can account for all refrigerant used and recovered.

The Refcom website explains how companies can become registered; how the legislation affects them; and the business benefits of carrying out appropriate training in order to gain the required certification.

The new website also includes a detailed section on the phase down of HFC refrigerants, which began last year, to help contractors explain the process to their clients so they can make informed decisions about potential equipment replacement.

The ‘Brexit’ vote will also have an impact on the refrigeration and air conditioning market so the new site already contains early guidance and will be updated as the regulatory picture evolves.

The success of Refcom in managing F gases used in heating and cooling equipment was recently acknowledged in a major report published in the US. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) studied refrigerant management and recycling programmes worldwide and found that the UK had the highest reported rate of recovery at between 65 and 92% - ahead of other major economies including Australia, Canada, California, the rest of the EU, Japan, China and Brazil.

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