Three changes in HVAC legislation to watch out for in 2021HVAC legislation is complex and ever-changing. In 2021, it will be more important than ever to have a strong understanding of the legislative landscape. This is true for manufacturers, dealers, procurement managers and engineers. You should aim to understand the latest laws in all the markets in which you operate.

Failing to invest time and effort into comprehensive HVAC legislation awareness risks several negative consequences. The world’s leading HVAC professionals instinctively understand this, each year dedicating hours to making sure they are up-to-date on all important changes.



The benefits of keeping up with HVAC legislation

Being aware of the latest developments in HVAC legislation enables you to advise your customers on solutions that are fully compliant with new local, national, or international regulations. 

For new builds, you can assure that the chosen HVAC systems will comply with all the latest building regulations. And for retrofits, you are able to identify systems and components that need to be replaced in order to ensure a building’s continuing safety and compliance. In January 2020, for example, the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency outlawed the production of Freon. This change meant that older air conditioning units could only be serviced with recycled Freon. But with no guarantees on the availability of supplies, this potentially made it harder for engineers to keep a system operating.

If you know legislative changes due to occur in the medium- or long-term, you can also offer a more extensive view of a system’s ongoing suitability. Having this knowledge moves you into the role of a trusted advisor, rather than simply a manufacturer, dealer or procurement manager. It elevates your worth in the supply chain and strengthens your business’s long-term prospects and profitability.

Most  HVAC legislation changes occur as a result of three overarching objectives in the global market: promoting and advancing eco-designs, increasing energy efficiency, and ensuring long-term sustainability.

Which HVAC legislation changes are coming soon?

In 2021, there are three major pieces of HVAC legislation undergoing significant revisions and updates. These changes will directly impact the whole industry, so it is crucial to understand each in its entirety. The three regulations are:

#1: European Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/2281

#2: The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code

#3: The European ‘Right to Repair’

#1: European Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 

European Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 was first published in 2016. It established minimum ecodesign requirements for air heating and cooling products, high-temperature process chillers, and fan coil units. The EU first started to lay the groundwork for this change in 2011. Since then, HVAC industry associations like Eurovent have also provided input, seeing it as an opportunity for further innovation in the sector.

Air heating products must now comply with the requirements of point (1) (b) of Annex II in Regulation (EU) 2016/2281. Specifically, this determines – as a percentage – minimum seasonal space heating energy efficiency standards for air heating products in the EU.

For example, it states that apart from a few exceptions, warm air heaters using fuels, must have a seasonal space cooling energy efficiency (ηs,c) of at least 78%.

Minimum standards of ηs,c  are also set for warm air heaters using electricity (31%), air-to-air heat pumps driven by an electric motor (137%), rooftop heat pumps (125%), and air-to-air heat pumps driven by an internal combustion engine (130%). The energy efficiency of each of these products is not permitted to fall below these values.

At the same time, Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 updates minimum standards in the seasonal space cooling energy efficiency of cooling products. Originally in operation from 1 January 2018, Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 included a provision to update the requirements from 1 January 2021. The 2021 update means air-to-air air conditioners, driven by an electric motor (except rooftop air conditioners) must have an ηs,c of 189%. Rooftop air conditioners must achieve an ηs,c of at least 138%, and air-to-air air conditioners driven by an internal combustion engine must reach 167%.

Finally, Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 determined maximum nitrogen oxide emissions for warm air heaters using gaseous fuels (70mg/kWh fuel input) and warm air heaters using liquid fuels (150mg/kWh fuel input).

#2: The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code

In the United States, buildings account for 40% of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, so efficiency is paramount. 

The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code will make a significant impact on HVAC projects. The latest updates to this US code of standards are set to improve building efficiency by 10% or more. For large buildings of 100,000 square feet or more, the IECC calls for a mandatory fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) system. The FDD system should monitor the performance of, and automatically identify faults in an HVAC system’s performance.

The IECC also asks for new HVAC cooling performance standards. Equipment must now surpass the minimum cooling and heating rejection efficiency requirements by 5%-10%.

In general, the IECC is viewed as a positive step in the long-term fight for better environmental standards. While it has attracted some criticism for not moving fast enough towards a “more climate-friendly future”, the steps it does introduce are shifting standards in the right direction.

#3: European ‘Right to Repair’

Finally, a majority of the MEPs in the European Parliament passed the European ‘Right to Repair’ in November 2020. The resolution does not specifically relate to the HVAC industry, but it is wide-reaching and will undoubtedly impact HVAC manufacturers, installers and suppliers to varying degrees.

The European ‘Right to Repair’ envisages a more sustainable single market. It hopes to increase the ease, attractiveness and efficiency of repairing goods rather than replacing them. European lawmakers want to remove the traditional obstacles that prevent repairs, resales and reuses of equipment. The ‘Right to Repair’ will promote replacement part guarantees, extended guarantees, and easier access to repair information. Combined, it is hoped these measures will prompt a change in consumer behaviour.

In October 2019, the EU estimated that the changes introduced by the European ‘Right to Repair’ legislation would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 46 million tonnes per year and save households an average of €150 per year. It could even reduce overall energy consumption across the EU’s 27 member states by 5%.

While the ‘Right to Repair’ is most likely to affect consumer goods such as electronics or clothing, its impact will be felt in the HVAC industry. Consumers have already been moving towards repairs and partial retrofits in HVAC systems. So the appeal of product durability and quality at a reasonable price is likely to rise further – and for us at Swiss Rotors, this value has always been critical.

Swiss Rotors: committed to the green cause

At Swiss Rotors, environmental concerns are at the heart of our business. Our overarching aim is to always conduct business with respect for natural resources. That is why, for example, we have strategically located our factories to reduce both our transport miles and our carbon footprint to the greatest possible extent. Humanity only has one planet, and every one of us carries a responsibility to leave the world in a better place for future generations.

We are proud that our product range is full of energy-saving solutions. This aligns with two of our objectives:

  • To educate and raise public awareness about the depletion of the world’s natural resources, the dangers of global warming and the carbon footprint we all leave behind our activities.
  • To create innovative solutions in the HVAC industry that will increase energy recovery and reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible.

By continuing to operate to these principles, we will fulfill our ambition of playing a significant role in the ongoing green future of our planet. We will also continue to support all of our customers and the wider HVAC industry in adjusting to the latest changes in HVAC legislation. Only through effective collaboration can we help to shape a greener future for our planet.