Poor customer awareness is leaving industry feeling left in the lurch

The government will spend less on raising awareness about EPCs and DECs this year than it spent on informing the public about HIPs last year, Building has learned.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the EPBD marketing budget for 2008/09 was £4.7m. The amount spent on HIPs awareness-raising in 2007/2008 was £4.9m.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) numbers show that nearly 34% ( £1.6m) has already been spent.

The marketing budgets are rumoured to be the largest within the DCLG.

The news comes on the day that the department extends the requirement for EPCs to be produced on sale or let of commercial buildings over 2,500m².

Ashley Bateson, sustainability partner at engineering firm Hoare Lea, said the marketing carried out had not achieved enough.

He said: “If certificates are meant to be a driver for change, they are not serving that purpose.

“You want customers to aspire to have an A or B-rated building but they don’t know much about it.”

DCLG confirmed the money was being spent on “a range of national, regional and sector activities, including press, radio and digital advertising, PR, publications, events, and a dedicated EPBD helpdesk.”

David Richardson, sustainable solutions consultant at Capita Symonds, said industry felt left in the lurch.

He said: “It seems the government put the legislation out there and almost washed their hands of the commitment to help people see it through.”

Bateson said that even two years ago, the level of EPBD awareness was higher elsewhere in Europe.

“A friend of mine in Sweden knew about it. And he wasn’t even a consultant. It will be unlikely that EPBD implementation will be successful. It’s a shame,” he said.