A certification scheme for HVAC controls
Chris Monson explains the philosophy behind a European-wide scheme for certifying the performance of building controls.In 2008 there will be a legal requirement to produce energy performance certificates when commercial buildings are constructed, rented or sold. Behind this new legislation is the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which is targeting energy use in commercial and domestic buildings across the EU. While domestic energy performance certificates (HIPS) have received a lot of attention in the press, there are also some behind-the-scenes developments taking place as a result of the EPBD. The directive defines performance requirements for building-services equipment such as boilers and air conditioning, to which manufacturers have responded with increasingly energy efficient equipment. The EPBD places great emphasis on the overall energy efficiency of a building — how the HVAC systems operate as a whole. As a result, good building control performance is increasingly important. Improvement
The European Building Automation Controls Association (eu.bac) was established through an alliance between European controls manufacturers, in response to the EPBD. Eu.bac recognises how crucial building controls are to meeting energy performance targets for buildings, and the association estimates that with optimised metering and control technology, the energy efficiency of heating, ventilation and hot water systems in commercial buildings can be improved by up to 25%. EU directives call for systems to be established to ensure energy efficient performance. The principal purpose of eu.bac is to act as a collective of European controls manufacturers to support the development of common standards for product performance and quality assurance through programmes of testing, auditing, certification and marking for the building-controls industry. The association was very concerned to offer practical solutions to manufacturers seeking certification for their products on their potential to reduce energy consumption. Eu.bac has developed a Europe-wide process for quality and energy certification, including common test procedures that can be carried out by certified test laboratories; these include BSRIA in the UK, CSTB lab in France and WSPLab in Germany. Products certified under this programme may then carry the eu.bac mark to offer assurance to specifiers and end users of the energy efficient performance of the marked products.
Members of eu.bac make automatic control devices and components for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, lighting, safety/security and further applications in residential, public and commercial buildings
As a first step in the certification process, eu.bac identified individual zone controllers as responsible for a high proportion of control of the final energy use in buildings. According to the association: ‘The highest potential to save energy comes from the use of demand orientated, electronic single room controllers which monitor radiator/heating, fan coils, ceiling coolers and electric heaters.’ The requirements of these control devices and their accurate performance are set out in the European standard EN15500. Based on this standard, eu.bac awards products after they pass the tests at one of the independent testing institutes. Most importantly, eu.bac accreditation also requires inspection of manufacturing facilities to make certain appropriate quality-management systems are in operation, which gives the added assurance of product quality and consistency. The eu.bac certification programme is open to all providers of building-automation products. Interested organisations can apply for eu.bac certification through the certification management system which can be found online at www.eubaccert.eu. At present, further programmes for sensors, actuators, outside temperature compensated control equipment for water and electrical heating devices, and optimisers are being prepared. It is expected that product certification for these devices will be available later in 2008. A number of eu.bac certified manufacturers are also members of the Building Controls Industry Association in the UK, which strongly supports certification to assure end-users of the performance and quality of the products they are using. The BCIA believes that the EPBD and other European legislation will encourage specifiers to look for certification as evidence of energy performance, and that building controls can contribute significantly to the drive to save energy in buildings. Chris Monson is strategic marketing manager with Trend Control Systems, a member of the Building Controls Industry Association.