Filter by

EPM (Amendment) Bill To Mandate Measures To Mitigate HFC Emissions And Enhance Surveillance At Construction Sites For No-Work Rule

13 Sep 2021

Singapore, 13 September 2021 – The Environmental Protection and Management (EPM) (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament on 13 September 2021 to

a)    mandate measures to mitigate the greenhouse gas impact of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) applications, and

b)    require errant contractors to install electronic video surveillance systems at construction sites that violate the no-work rule (NWR) on Sundays and public holidays. The requirements will take effect from 1 October 2022.

HFC Mitigation Measures in RAC Applications

2            HFCs are commonly used as refrigerants in RAC equipment. These gases are sometimes vented to the atmosphere during the installation, maintenance and decommissioning of such equipment. In the atmosphere, HFCs are much more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide and contribute significantly to global warming. For example, the typical refrigerant used in chillers, R134a, has a global warming potential (GWP [1]) of 1,300. In comparison, carbon dioxide has a GWP of 1. As announced in March 2020 [2], NEA is implementing a package of mitigation measures to reduce HFC emissions in the RAC sector. The EPM (Amendment) Bill provides the legislative framework for NEA to implement these measures.

Restriction on supply of RAC equipment that use high-GWP refrigerants

3          To shift the market towards climate-friendly RAC equipment, the EPM (Amendment) Bill will restrict the supply of RAC equipment that use high GWP refrigerants. From 1 October 2022 onwards, suppliers are not allowed to supply the following types of equipment:

·       Household air-conditioners that use refrigerants with GWP of more than 750;

·       Household refrigerators that use refrigerants with GWP of more than 15 [3], and

·       Water-cooled chillers [4] that use refrigerants with GWP of more than 15 [5].

Climate-friendly RAC equipment are already available in Singapore. NEA notes that some early movers, such as CapitaLand, have selected water-cooled chillers that use the low-GWP refrigerant R1233zd, for their developments. The chillers use less energy and have lower emissions compared to equivalent chillers that use conventional refrigerants.

Training and certification of technicians

4            Improper handling of refrigerants during installation, maintenance and decommissioning of RAC equipment will lead to HFC gases escaping into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to climate change. To minimise HFC emissions, under the EPM (Amendment) Bill, servicing work that involves refrigerant handling and spent refrigerant recovery must be supervised or carried out by at least one certified technician. The requirement will initially apply to work carried out on water-cooled chillers where at least one certified technician must be present on site.

5          NEA has worked with the Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to introduce training courses for water-cooled chiller technicians and household air-conditioner technicians respectively. The course at ITE was introduced in October 2020. More information regarding the course at Temasek Polytechnic for chiller technicians will be released at a later date.

Mandatory collection and proper treatment of spent HFC refrigerants

6            Spent refrigerants are sometimes vented into the atmosphere during equipment disposal, resulting in HFC emissions. Under the Resource Sustainability Act, e-waste recyclers, who take in household RAC equipment for recycling, are already prohibited from venting spent refrigerants. NEA will also mandate the collection and proper treatment of spent refrigerants from decommissioned RAC equipment under the Environmental Public Health Act.  Operators of refrigerant treatment facilities and e-waste recyclers who handle the reclamation and destruction of spent refrigerants will have to obtain a Toxic Industrial Waste Collector (TIWC) licence from NEA.

Electronic Video Surveillance Systems for Construction Sites Violating the No-Work Rule (NWR)

7            The NWR was introduced in September 2011 to prohibit construction work on Sundays and public holidays at construction sites located within 150m from any hospital, home for the aged sick or residential building. This is to allow residents to have quiet rest on these days. Companies in violation of the NWR can face fines of up to $40,000. To strengthen the enforcement of the NWR, the EPM (Amendment) Bill will require the owner or occupier of construction sites to install, maintain and operate an electronic video surveillance system at their own cost, if they have violated the NWR. NEA will be able to access the electronic video surveillance system to monitor the activities at the construction sites in real time, and take strict enforcement action for any further violation.

8            NEA consulted the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL), which represents the majority of construction companies, on the electronic video surveillance requirement for NWR offenders. Given SCAL’s feedback on the difficulties faced by the construction sector due to the COVID-19 situation, the requirement on errant contractors to implement an electronic video surveillance system will commence from 1 October 2022. NEA will continue to conduct checks on construction sites on Sundays and public holidays to ensure compliance with the NWR.

[1] Global warming potential (GWP) is a measure of the warming effect of a gas relativeto the warming effect of an equivalent mass of carbon dioxide (CO2), usually over a 100-year time horizon. The greater the GWP, the greater the warming effect.

[2] MSE and NEA-joint media release was issued on 4 Mar 20

[3] The ban would effectively phase out the sale of household air-conditioner models using the R410A refrigerant (GWP of 1,924), and refrigerator models using the R134a refrigerant (GWP of 1,300). In comparison, R32 (for air-conditioners) and R600a (for refrigerators) have GWPs of 677 and 3 respectively.

[4] Of cooling capacity equal to or more than 1,055kW and used for air-conditioning purposes.

[5] The typical refrigerant used in chillers is R134a, which has a GWP of 1,300. A low-GWP alternative is R1233zd, which has a GWP of 1.

~~ End ~~

For more information, please submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application. Alternatively, you contact us at 6225 5632