Some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the air-systems industry concern codes and regulations. Though codes and regulations vary from region to region, the challenges and opportunities associated with them often are universal, involving finding the right balance between satisfying officials and regulators, saving energy, managing product cost and customer burden, and being profitable.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy halted its first attempt to regulate fans. However, the effort demonstrated the need and laid the groundwork for a performance-based rating method. AMCA quickly realized the necessity to develop a model code offering a framework agencies can adopt or base their energy codes on, promoting harmonization and avoiding fractured regulation.
Enter AMCA Standard 214, Model Fan Efficiency Regulation for Stand-Alone Commercial and Industrial Fans. AMCA began developing Standard 214 in 2018 to promote standard fan-efficiency regulations. Standard 214 will combine relevant portions of ANSI/AMCA Standard 210, Laboratory Methods of Testing Fans for Certified Aerodynamic Performance Rating; ANSI/AMCA Standard 207, Fan System Efficiency and Fan System Input Power Calculation; ANSI/AMCA Standard 208, Calculation of the Fan Energy Index; and AMCA Publication 211, Certified Ratings Program Product Rating Manual for Fan Air Performance, for fan-energy-index- (FEI-) based fan-efficiency regulations.
AMCA Senior Director of Global Affairs Michael Ivanovich reports that in the absence of a federal efficiency regulation, interest has grown at the state level. California is the first to begin proceedings, under Title 20 of its Code of Regulations. AMCA's strategy of working with the California Energy Commission and providing education and a draft model code has worked well.
On the air-control side, AMCA is continuing the fight against sprinkler trade-offs, which compromise passive fire and smoke protection. This includes amplifying awareness of the Project FAIL-SAFE research findings on trade-offs in codes and standards.
Amanda Hickman of The Hickman Group reports the beginning of significant pushback to what are seen as ever-changing and increasingly stringent building codes and regulations. Code officials have had to operate under tighter budgets since the collapse of the housing market and are starting to resist many changes to energy codes. Meanwhile, builders are pushing back because of the cost impacts of more stringent codes, energy codes in particular. This has caused states like Florida to change the way they adopt energy codes. If this trend continues, the air-systems industry will be impacted because getting I-Code language adopted by states and jurisdictions will be more difficult. Additionally, this will be a big challenge with respect to AMCA's efforts to promote FEI and safety.
Yes, these are challenging times, but, by working together, AMCA's members and staff can continue to turn obstacles into opportunities.