Ministry of Defence concern about security risks suspected of prompting policy change on certificates

Energy assessors have accused the government of a rethink that could halve the number of buildings requiring the new display energy certificates.

Only public buildings more than 1000m2 that are “frequently visited” by large numbers of people will need a DEC, according to a Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) document distributed at a closed meeting with industry representatives on 14 April.

Energy assessors said this contradicted a flowchart on the CLG website that indicated all public buildings would need a DEC, irrespective of the number of visits by the public.

The CLG promised to clarify the situation. “We’ll be putting more information on our website soon to help authorities to understand whether they will need a DEC,” a spokesman told BSj.

He denied that there had been a rethink. “There is no shift or change. We have planned that we would give more information and guidance closer to the launch date,” he said.

“It was always planned that only buildings frequented by the public would need a DEC. There is no point in having a DEC if the public don’t see it.”

One assessor who attended the meeting said the document had surprised those present. He said the rules had changed “in a not too subtle way” and that the 100,000 DECs previously expected could be reduced by half.

Another assessor, Robert Cohen, technical director at energy consultancy ESD, said the Ministry of Defence had probably baulked at the possibility of having energy assessors learn details about security sensitive buildings.

“The change was certainly unforeseen,” Cohen said. “I think the CLG lawyers used a sledgehammer to crack a Ministry of Defence nut.”

The CLG spokesman said that the department’s headquarters in Victoria, London, would be obtaining a DEC even though it probably fell outside the requirement parameters. “We get lots of government and industry visitors but very few members of the public. But we are going to get one to lead by example. It would be a bit rich if we didn’t get one, being the lead authority,” he said.