The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute announced it will begin using a new unified mark to identify heating, ventilation, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration products that have achieved third-party certification of their performance ratings. According to AHRI, the new mark will replace the ARI Performance Certified, GAMA Efficiency Rating Certified and I=B=R marks, “but these changes will be made according to an implementation schedule that provides enough time to bring all certification programs into compliance with internationally recognized accreditations.”
Since the association's merger in January 2008, discussions among its 42 product sections have focused on the value of moving toward unifying the association's three certification marks. After months of discussion, AHRI's executive committee recently approved use of a new phrase “AHRI Certified™” and a new unified mark.
“Unifying the industry's product certification programs with one mark representing third-party verification of HVACR equipment and component performance ratings, will allow us to leverage our marketing dollars to enhance marketplace recognition of the new mark and its value,” said AHRI President Stephen Yurek
The new mark and brand usage guidelines will be available to manufacturers participating in AHRI's certification programs by mid-April. However, not all participants will be able to apply the new mark immediately. I=B=R and GAMA Efficiency Rating Certified program participants will have to wait until their programs enter the scope of AHRI's accreditation by the Standards Council of Canada.
Every year, the SCC audits several AHRI programs to ensure that they comply with International Organization for Standardization Guide 65 (ISO-65), which is the internationally accepted quality standard for organizations managing certification programs. Earning SCC accreditation allows certified equipment bearing the new AHRI Certified™ mark to be imported to Canada.
“This audit is important because it recognizes changes have been made to the certification programs to bring them into compliance with ISO-65,” said Yurek. “The former ARI Performance Certified programs already meet ISO-65 guidelines and are SCC Accredited.” For this reason, ARI Performance Certified program participants can begin applying the new logo immediately, although they have until Jan. 1, 2011, to transition to the new mark.
“An 18-month transition period was allocated to prevent burdening manufacturers with additional costs related to replacing the old mark on products, packaging and marketing collateral,” said Yurek. “Manufacturers generally update their marketing collateral and name plates about every six to 12 months and so this schedule takes into account that normal revision process.”
Key dates related to implementation of the new mark:
April 20, 2009 ― New certification mark and brand usage manual available for use by the former ARI Performance Certified program participants.
Other Related Changes
November 2009 - December 2009 ― Standards Council of Canada audits AHRI annually to confirm its compliance with ISO-65. In 2009, SCC also will be considering whether to extend the scope of AHRI's SCC accreditation to include the furnace and boiler certification programs. Upon successful completion of this audit, equipment certified under these programs can bear the AHRI Certified mark; however, the certification marks for these programs must still be registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. The average registration process can take 18 months to 24 months from filing to registration, assuming no significant obstacles are encountered during the process.
Jan. 1, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2012 ― Transition period for harmonizing the governing documents for former I=B=R and GAMA certification programs to meet AHRI's ISO-65 quality system requirements.
Jan. 1, 2011 ― Former ARI Performance Certified program participants must apply the new mark by this date.
Jan. 1, 2012 ― Former I=B=R and GAMA Efficiency Rating Certified program participants must apply the new mark by this date.
Consistent with the new certification mark, AHRI also will be modifying the name of the programs’ certificates to the “AHRI Certificate of Product Ratings” and the certified product identifier number to the “AHRI Certified Reference Number.” For products listed in gamapower.org that identification number was called the "GAMA Model ID" and for those products listed in the ARI directory, it was called the "ARI Reference Number."
In addition, the name of ARI's standards changed earlier this year to AHRI Standards. Standards will reflect the new name as they are revised or updated over the next three years.