Industry News

EPA Proposes Refrigerant 608 Rule Changes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering new refrigerant handling rules, commonly called EPA 608 rules. These changes have yet to be formally released for comment. When the PA does finally release them, there will be a 60-day comment period for public response.

Department of Energy – Test Procedure Changes Suggested

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently held a formative meeting to consider changes to the Central Air Conditioner and Heat Pump test procedure and possible changes to the associated minimum energy efficiency standards. DOE is proposing an update to the test procedure to more closely reflect actual installed conditions. This change could impact the existing scale of ratings, as actual conditions may test lower than lab conditions. In short, an existing SEER 13 may possibly become a lesser number, such as SEER 12.6. Coupled with this test procedure change DOE would like to consider minimum efficiency requirements that may or may not be regionally structured and that would almost certainly increase from the current minimums. It is still early in this process, so look for additional updates.

Department of Energy – HVAC Regulations

Several industry organizations have filed comments on recently proposed regulations on residential boilers and residential gas furnace products. The DOE has proposed hot water boiler efficiency levels of 85% and groups have suggested that there could be condensing issues under some conditions, affecting the boiler or venting system. Additional concerns are related to the increased costs associated with the 85% efficient products and the financial burden placed on the consumer.

The DOE’s residential gas furnace proposal presents challenges too. DOE proposes eliminating the non-condensing category of this appliance, a choice which will create difficult or impossible retrofit installations in some residences. Groups have testified that the DOE has underestimated installation costs for these products, a factor which undermines the basis for the proposed rule.

Construction Confined Spaces Rules Now In Effect

Make sure you're in compliance with OSHA's new standard on Confined Spaces in Construction. The regulation went into effect on October 3. The rule is intended to protect construction workers laboring in confined spaces. While at first look you may not think you have employees in confined spaces, it’s worth the time to review the standard as some of your work areas - crawl spaces and attics, for instance – may be classified as confined spaces and trigger the need to comply with the standard. Possible hazards in confined spaces include: exposure to toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation. The construction standard was developed for the industry to replace the general industry standard that applied to the construction industry previously.

Construction Markets Expected To Grow In 2016

Dodge Data & Analytics has released its 2016 Construction Outlook, predicting an industry-wide increase of 6 percent for the coming year. Single-family housing is predicted to climb by 20 percent and multi-family housing by 7 percent. Commercial buildings and institutional buildings are predicted to grow by 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.