Local authorities flout Brussels directive aimed at improving energy performance of their estates

Green for Growth

Nearly a third of councils are not complying with their legal duties on monitoring their buildings’ energy use under laws designed to encourage councils to improve their estates.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive from the EU requires public authorities to have up-to-date Display Energy Certificates (DEC) in all their buildings over 1,000m2.

The government has allocated local authorities £1.9m each year to fulfil these duties. But Freedom of Information requests by the Property and Energy Professionals Association (PEPA) have revealed that 30% of councils in England and Wales admitted they were not compliant with the directive. While 58% said they were compliant, a further 12% did not answer the question.

Mike Ockenden, head of secretariat at PEPA, said the lack of compliance with the directive would mean less work for firms in the energy efficiency sector.

Ockenden said the Department for Communities and Local Government, which oversees DECs, had not put the right framework in place to ensure compliance with the directive, adding it was “absurd” that compliance with the directive was monitored by trading standards officers, who are themselves employed by councils.

He said: “It seems that the communities secretary Eric Pickles does not understand why improving energy efficiency is so vital, not just to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, but for the economy.”

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Sustainability expert Neil Cutland said the findings were “depressing”. He said: “The directive is there for a good reason, European directives get a bad press generally, but this one is set to be driving so many [positive] things in the market that would not be happening without it.” He said the directive needed greater “political will” behind it to be effective.

Building’s Green for Growth campaign has called for the roll-out of DECs to the private sector to stimulate work in the construction industry and meet the UK’s carbon emission reduction targets.