The government has confused the sustainability industry by issuing – then seemingly retracting – guidance that would alter the way energy performance certification is carried out

In a letter seen by Building, the communities department warned that the use of unaccredited people to gather data on a building’s performance “had the potential to severely dilute the quality of EPCs”.

At present, assessors who are qualified to use the EPC software sign off data gathered by unqualified field workers, as the law does not explicitly forbid this. The communities department letter said that by the beginning of next month data collectors would have to be as qualified as the desk-bound staff who assessed the data and signed the certificates.

However, a subsequent email from the department pointed to the fact the original email was merely a “proposal”.

By then, two energy assessor training bodies, Stroma and Elmhurst, had already sent letters to their members informing them of the change.

If I 'propose' a trip to London, you’ll expect me to come

Stuart Oakes, Stroma

Stuart Oakes, a sales manager at Stroma, said the second email was prompted by complaints that firms did not have enough assessors to carry out site surveys. He said he had read the first letter as a directive. “If I ‘propose’ a trip to London, you’ll expect me to come,” he said.

Rob Corbyn, Director of Low Carbon Energy Assessors (LCEA), said the seriousness of the data gathering issue meant the communities department should not have changed its mind.

CIBSE had previously told the communities department that its energy assessors “unanimously” supported a stricter approach.

The guidance also forbade issuing EPCs without an “immediate” site visit afterwards to ensure they were accurate.