Business department takes stand against mandatory energy certificates for private sector

Proposals to make energy efficiency certificates mandatory for all private sector buildings have been blocked by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, despite support from other departments, Building understands.

Two sources close to the government said that the communities and energy departments had backed the plan to roll out display energy certificates (DECs) for the
private sector.

But they confirmed that the business department had blocked the proposal because it believed there was little evidence that DECs would be effective, that they would cost too much and would add to the regulatory burden on businesses.

It is understood that the communities department, backed by the energy department, wanted the commitment to DECs included in the Energy Bill, which had its second reading in the Commons on Tuesday, but this was blocked by the business department at cabinet level.

On Tuesday, the UK Green Building Council and British Property Federation, backed by the heads of Hammerson, British Land and Land Securities, called on the government to include the measures in the bill.

They say that if all private buildings have DECs this would create a “league table” of green landlords, which should push up standards.

The government has already said it will roll out DECs to private buildings by October 2012 in its Carbon Plan, released in March this year, but the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) fears that if the Energy Bill is not used to introduce DECs they will not be adopted in time.

Paul King, chief executive of the UK-GBC, said: “If there is opposition from the business department, it’s extremely disappointing given the extent of business support for rolling out DECs. There seems to be tension within government between the desire to cut carbon and the desire to cut regulation. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.”

The business department was unavailable for comment.