Commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Introduction

The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/991 as amended was the Government’s response to European Union Directive 2002/91/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings. The Directive requires member states to have a system for comparing the energy performance of buildings in place by 4th January 2009 or fines will be imposed, so there is no further scope for the Government to delay the introduction of commercial EPCs.

The EU directive was part of the Union’s response to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All the main political parties in the UK are committed to action to cut CO2 emissions and as non-domestic properties contribute about 20% of our CO2 emissions it was inevitable that action would be taken to try to change the behaviour of building owners and occupiers. EPCs are part of that action and they are here to stay.

Recommendations Report

In addition to the certificate the Commercial Energy Assessor (CEA) must prepare a Recommendations Report which is designed to help owners and occupiers to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The report only includes improvements that the CEA considers to be appropriate for the building that has been assessed. For each recommendation indicative payback periods are noted. The recommendations are provided in four categories, i.e. those: Rescheck web 

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with a short payback period of less than three years

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with a medium term payback of between three and seven years

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with a long term payback of greater than seven years

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other recommendations based on the CEA’s knowledge

The calculation method

For most properties the calculation method is a piece of Government approved software called the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM). Before entering the required data into the SBEM software, the CEA needs to follow the following procedure:

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The CEA splits the building into zones according to the type of activity, heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting in each zone. A single room might contain multiple zones. The floor area, wall, ceiling/roof and glazed areas for each zone must then be calculated.

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The CEA then needs to determine the construction of the building and zone envelopes and may need to calculate U Values (the amount of heat that can pass through the material) and Cm Values (how much heat the material can hold).

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The CEA needs to find out as much information as possible on the heating, cooling and ventilation systems in addition to the lighting, glazing and water heating.

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Once all the information has been obtained to the CEA’s satisfaction, they will input the data into the software and run the EPC calculation. They must also prepare the Recommendations Report.

For complicated buildings, or where little or no information has been provided by the person responsible for procure the EPC, the whole process can be very time consuming. It is important to remember that the CEA owes a duty of care to all parties, not just the person or company that has instructed them, to ensure that the EPC is accurate. CEAs may face criminal proceedings for producing an EPC fraudulently and anybody who believe that an EPC may be wrong can apply to the CEA’s accreditation body to have the matter reviewed.

General Information

EPCs are valid for 10 years in normal circumstances or until a newer EPC is prepared. From 1st October 2008 virtually all commercial properties will need to have an EPC following exchange of contracts for a sale or letting. From 4th January 2009 this requirement will be extended so that all such properties will require an EPC when they are placed on the market and available for interested parties to view the premises. A lease assignment is considered to be a letting for these purposes. Responsibility for ensuring that here is a valid EPC for the building or any part that is being offered for sale or to let rests with the owner or lessor respectively even if they have appointed an agent to act on their behalf.

EPCs are also required when buildings are constructed. He party carrying out the construction is required to obtain the EPC and Recommendations Report in this case and must inform Building Control when this has been done.

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