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CLG issue guidance on use of data gatherers

Air Conditioning Inspections

Use of data gatherers restricted for TM44 inspections

The Department for Communities and Local Governance issued new guidance on the use of data gatherers in compiling TM44 air conditioning inspection reports.

In a letter to accreditation schemes dated 16 May 2011, Phil Beschizza confirmed that unqualified data gatherers are not to be used to assist an assessor in gathering the information needed to carry out an energy assessment of a building for the purpose of issuing an air conditioning inspection report.

Assessors are able to use persons who are qualified to at least Level 3 ACEA to assist them to gather information; however it is imperative that the assessor attends the site themselves and supervises the assistant. Evidence of supervision of the assistant will also be required (for example via the use of ISO9001 procedures).

The purpose of this guidance is to ensure that inspections are completed by suitably qualified persons and to avoid distortions in the market, whereby certain companies use cheaper unqualified data gatherers in order to win contracts that they cannot actually fulfil themselves or at the cost they have quoted.

An excerpt from the letter can be found below -

What are data gatherers?

It is important that there is common agreement on the meaning of the term ‘data gatherers’. Data gatherers are people who have a contractual relationship with an accredited air conditioning assessor, or the company employing the assessor, to provide professional assistance to an assessor in gathering the information needed to carry out an energy assessment of a building for the purpose of issuing an air conditioning inspection report.

The use of data gatherers for Air Conditioning Inspections

For the purposes of effective quality control and assurance the Department does not sanction any practices that are contrary to the quality of the air conditioning report and aims to stop such practices.

Air Conditioning Inspections

In the case of air conditioning inspections the guidance has identified the situation where data gatherers work under the supervision of an accredited air conditioning assessor enabling the assessor to produce the reports for larger and sometimes more complex buildings and portfolios of buildings. The assessor needs to be in the position to verify the data and supervise how and by whom it is collected. However, having considered the situation, we consider that the advice on use of data gatherers for air conditioning inspections should be clarified.

Level 3 and Level 4 Buildings

We propose the following clarification:

Visiting the property – the air conditioning assessor must inspect all properties for which they issue an air conditioning report to ensure they can verify any data provided and be sure that it is appropriate for the building before the air conditioning report is submitted. This also enables the air conditioning assessor to collect documents not forthcoming from the client prior to the site inspection.

Assistance – the accredited air conditioning assessor may use data gatherers for Level 3 or Level 4 buildings, who are suitably competent to carry out data collection, providing that an assessor is present and the data gatherer is under the supervision of the assessor at the site during the period of assistance.

Recording of data gatherers and data sources used – the air conditioning assessor must record all the data gatherers used and the provenance of all data that has been used to produce the report.

Evidence of supervision – the accredited air conditioning assessor must provide evidence of supervision of the process. One way of demonstrating this would be via the use of ISO9001 procedures.

The suitability of any data gatherers used -

  • The air conditioning assessor is responsible for ensuring that any data gatherers used are ‘fit and proper’ and suitably qualified to at least Level 3; Simple Packaged Air Conditioning System assessor or through membership of a recognised professional body. The accredited air conditioning assessor must be able to provide evidence to support a data gatherers’ suitability to do the work.
  • The air conditioning assessor must be able to demonstrate that the contractual arrangement with the data gatherer allows for sufficient supervision and quality control by the assessor. Employment of data gatherers by the same company as the air conditioning assessor would be one way of demonstrating this.

Remote lodgement business models – which in this note refer to the practice of an accredited air conditioning assessor lodging a report which has been produced from data that has not been collected or verified in the manner described above by the accredited air conditioning assessor – are not acceptable. The fact is, in such circumstances, that the accredited air conditioning assessor is unable to fully supervise the data gatherer and verify the data and how it is collected.

Effective dates

This note takes effect immediately. Any new air conditioning inspection reports produced from the date of this letter must comply with the above requirements.

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