The government suggests arranging EPCs before the end of year deadline when it will be a legal requirement for all commercial building

Do you know the energy efficiency of your workplace or any other commercial building which you use on a day to day basis?

By the end of 2008, it will be a legal requirement for all commercial buildings other than dwellings to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when they are built, sold or let.

From 6 April everyone, from building designers to facilities managers, will need to know what role their commercial building plays in the UK’s obligation to reduce carbon emissions.

Basic stats

Buildings are responsible for almost 50% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Non-residential buildings alone are responsible for around 20% and the ways in which we light, heat and use these buildings all contribute to this.

Even small improvements to energy performance and the way we use our buildings could have a significant effect on our fuel bills, carbon emissions and the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change.

This is why from 6 April new legislation is coming into effect which means that buildings with a total useful floor area greater than 10,000m2 will require an EPC when they are next sold, rented or built.

The introduction of EPCs will rate the energy performance of the buildings as well as provide recommendations on how to improve the rating.

This legislation extends to buildings with a total useful floor area of 2,500m2 from 1 July 2008, and by 1 October 2008 it will be compulsory for all commercial properties to have an EPC when built, sold or let.

Certificates will be valid for 10 years or until a newer certificate is produced.

Benefits of EPCs

EPCs will inform potential buyers or tenants about the energy performance of a building, so they can start to consider energy efficiency as part of their investment or business decision to buy or occupy that building.

The certificates will also act as an incentive for designers and builders to design more energy efficient buildings.

If we work together, the UK could save 40 million tonnes of carbon by 2020, and estimates show that businesses could also make significant savings of as much as 20 percent on their energy bills.

Introducing EPCs, in addition to helping to improve energy efficiency of current buildings, will also help change the way we design, construct them and use our buildings.

They will help to tackle the significant contribution that buildings make to our total carbon emissions, and are a valuable first step which everyone can take.

How EPCs work

An EPC will provide information on energy performance by giving a rating to compare it to buildings of the same type – an ‘asset rating’.

The certificates will use the same coloured A to G efficiency scale as labels currently on fridges, with A being very efficient and G being least efficient.

The EPC is accompanied by a Recommendation Report highlighting ways the energy performance of the building could be improved with the potential impact if the recommendation is implemented.

Businesses are under no obligation to act on the recommendations. However, taking action is likely to reduce fuel bills, cut carbon emissions and make the building more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.

Acting on the EPC

The new certificates and recommendation reports mean that, builders, building managers and occupiers will be able to press for investment in energy efficiency measures, including the likely impact on rental or sale value.

EPCs unlike Display Energy Certificates (DECs) are not intended for public view, though some organisations are choosing to put their certificate on view for employees and visitors – encouraging dialogue around the building’s energy performance.

Getting an EPC

When a building is in the process of being offered for sale, it is the legal duty of the seller to make available an EPC and recommendation report to buyers.

Similarly, when a building is let, it is the responsibility of the prospective landlord to provide an EPC and recommendation report to potential tenants.

Only people who are accredited Energy Assessors can conduct energy assessments and produce EPCs. They must act in an independent manner and be a member of a government approved accreditation scheme.

Assessors will work with you to gather relevant information about the building, including plans, building dimensions, its uses, heating systems and fuel used, analysing this information and entering it into an approved software programme.

This will then be used to produce a report, with recommendations for improvements.

Next steps

From 6 April, an EPC will only be required for a building when it is constructed, sold or let. However, building owners can get an EPC whenever they want, in order to start saving energy, and potentially money, as soon as possible.

Arranging an EPC before the deadline, and before a property is sold or let, will put you ahead of the game.

We have a long way to go to make our buildings energy efficient but EPCs act as a valuable starting point.