BM TRADA outlines changes to air tightness testing industry schemes

Changes to industry competency schemes for air tightness testing introduced in January will alter the way in which air tightness testers can demonstrate competence in the UK. It will make it easier for clients to select the appropriate testing firm for different types of project and improve how building control bodies and specifiers check that evidence is acceptable, says BM TRADA.

In January 2015, a new competence-based scheme, authorised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), was launched by the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA).

The ATTMA scheme, which is specified in Approved Documents L1 and L2 of the Building Regulations, was established to meet new requirements introduced by DCLG which aim to improve standards in the quality of air tightness testing services by ensuring the competence of people undertaking such testing.

It aims to cover all parts of the industry and is open to all those previously registered on the air tightness tester registration scheme operated by the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT), which closed on 31 December 2014.

Since membership of an authorised scheme enables registered companies to supply their certificate of membership to building control bodies as evidence of their technical competency, interim measures have been put in place to ensure continuity of certification.

Testers who were previously BINDT-registered are eligible to transfer to the ATTMA Scheme but will be audited during the first year of membership. And, although a list of current registrants to the BINDT scheme will remain available during 2015, BINDT warns that they will no longer be performing any assessment of the firms or testers listed and that certification will be withdrawn from all current registrants as their current registration expires.

The new ATTMA scheme requires all testers to join at an organisational level, rather than as individuals, then each organisation, be it a company, partnership or sole trader, can chose an appropriate level of operation by demonstrating the competence of their testers to one of three levels:

• Level 1 testers can test dwellings and non-dwellings of up to 4,000m3 gross envelope volume tested as a single entity, with a single fan;

• Level 2 can test all buildings except large and complex and/or high rise buildings and/or phased handover or zonal buildings, unless they are part of a team managed by a Level 3 tester; while

• Level 3 is for air tightness experts, covering large, complex and high rise buildings and higher level technical competencies such as phased handover and zonal compartmentalisation. Level 3 testers can also be assessed to become scheme auditors.

Sole trader domestic (L1) testers and firms with more than one tester previously registered in the BINDT scheme will join the Scheme at Level 1; while testers from firms which are UKAS-accredited to IS0 17025 will be certified at the Level to which they currently operate i.e. dwelling-only testers at Level 1, all building types testers (except Level 3) at Level 2. Level 3 testers will need to obtain a qualification to prove their technical competency.

BM TRADA Technical Head – Energy Services, Scott Bartholomew says:

“BM TRADA welcomes the new scheme which will ensure the competence of testers and allow building control bodies and clients to appoint appropriate specialists to undertake the required testing. The scheme will enable testers to easily demonstrate their competence, giving clients greater confidence in their test results and reducing confusion in the market. As a UKAS-accredited laboratory, BM TRADA is currently certified to operate to Level 2. We look forward to continuing to deliver a comprehensive air tightness testing service to existing and new clients and will carry on helping our clients to achieve ongoing improvement, based on practical guidance and advice before during and after air tightness testing.”

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