Industry doubts there will be enough experts to carry out surveys for tough new laws

The government has launched tough laws for Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) beyond what the EU demands.

The additional details, including logging the EPC on a national register, will cost home buyers £360m more than applying the directive as required by Europe.

By October 2008, all buildings will require EPCs. They are valid for 10 years, but the government’s decision to go beyond European rules means every time a home is sold in England it will need a new certificate, even if 10 years have not passed.

In addition, it must have been produced in the three months before the house was put on the market. These rules do not apply to non-domestic buildings.

Green groups have welcomed the tougher standards but there is industry concern that there will not be enough inspectors to carry out the volume of work.

Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the British Council for Offices, said: “The biggest hurdle yet to be overcome will be training the suggested 6000 inspectors required. The government has yet to release details of the A-G rating scale or training courses.”

Even the government acknowledged that it might have asked for too much. It said: “There is a risk that there will be insufficient experts to carry out the surveys. Landlords may wish to rate all their portfolio in the first few years.”

The government also admitted it did not expect full uptake of the new rules. It said: “There is a risk that in some sectors, such as small and medium-sized enterprises which own small commercial buildings, compliance levels will be low and the impact of EPCs reduced.” It predicts that 90% of small buildings and 95% of large buildings will comply.

The certificate will include an energy rating, as well as advice from the Energy Savings Trust on making the building more energy efficient. The ratings will range from A to G, with A the best and G the worst. Energy use will be calculated using the SBEM software, which is also used for Part L.

The timetable for introducing EPCs

  • 1 June 2007: required for sales of existing homes
  • 1 October 2007: required on construction of all new homes
  • 1 January 2008: air-conditioning inspections introduced
  • 6 April 2008: required for sale or rent of non-dwellings greater than 500m2 and construction of all non-dwellings; DECs for public buildings greater than 1000m2
  • 1 October 2008: required for domestic rental and residential sales; required for construction, rental or sale of all non-dwellings.