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Energy Performance Certificates for buildings

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are a widely used measure of the energy performance of buildings, in the residential, commercial and public sectors, and are a key tool in promoting energy performance improvements in buildings.

Objectives of the consultation

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are designed to allow consumers to reliably compare the energy performance of different properties, providing a relative understanding of energy efficiency and running costs. EPCs are required in the UK when residential and commercial buildings are constructed or put up for sale or rent, and are also required to meet the eligibility criteria for some government schemes supporting renewable energy.

The recent Clean Growth Strategy set out the government’s ambitions to improve the energy performance of buildings in both the domestic and non-domestic sector. In particular, it set out an aim for homes in the private rented sector and all fuel-poor homes to be upgraded to EPC band C by 2030, and an aspiration for as many homes as possible to be upgraded to band C by 2035. It also set out an aim to improve energy efficiency in businesses and industry by at least 20% by 2030.

In this context, the Clean Growth Strategy committed to a Call for Evidence seeking views on introducing additional points when EPCs might be required and ways in which EPCs could be further improved.

The aims of this Call for Evidence was:

  • to gain evidence on how the current EPC system is working;
  • to gather information on the suitability of the current system of EPCs for both their current and emerging uses in measuring building energy performance; and
  • to obtain feedback on suggestions for improvement.

This Call for Evidence closed on 19 October 2018.

Supporting papers

To download the consultation document, please follow the link below.

CIBSE response

CIBSE submitted a response noting that although this Call for Evidence is intended to cover all types of buildings, it appears to be focused more on domestic buildings. The challenges for non-domestic buildings are different from those for homes, in particular the variation in uses and operating patterns, complexity of servicing and maintenance, and different landlord/tenant relationships. There are also significant differences between SAP and SBEM which have a bearing on the use of EPCs.

CIBSE believes that enforcement is key to achieving improvement in the energy performance of buildings and should be highlighted as a key attribute of EPCs. They should be brought under the remit of BEIS for a greater consolidation of energy-related and building performance activity. 

Quality and value of EPCs should not be sacrificed in the name of simplicity and low cost. If EPCs provided comprehensive recommendation reports, with realistic estimates of savings and costs, they would be seen as something which is desirable and adds value. Enhancing the quality and overcoming the low fee culture, which has become established for those producing EPCs, should be a priority.

The pursuit of accuracy and consistency in EPCs is desirable but could also be seen as misguided if this is based on current methodologies. The original SBEM methodology has been adopted for a purpose for which it is not appropriate. For non-domestic buildings, Dynamic Simulation Models are a better way of realistically assessing improvement measures. We have all the tools we need to model buildings in great detail if required and comparative studies based on such models can reliably rank improvement measures. This will provide the robust information needed to make decisions about improving a building. Furthermore these models can be used to investigate why actual energy consumption is departing from predictions.
 
Also the exemption of listed buildings should be reviewed as many can and do achieve considerable improvements in energy consumption. Clearer guidance and assistance could enable the improvement of performance of more listed buildings.

To read the full CIBSE response, please follow the link below.