Government must end uncertainty on energy standards in buildings

Business leaders from some of the UK's largest property owners, developers and occupiers are urging the Government to end the 'prevarication' around the introduction of mandatory energy efficiency standards for privately rented commercial buildings.

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech later today (4 June), the UK Green Building Council has sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron about the Government’s proposed minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), amid concerns there is ‘significant opposition’ to them within the Coalition.

The letter, signed by the heads of major companies including Legal and General, Whitbread, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer, warns that the current uncertainty around the implementation of MEPS is ‘preventing timely preparations from being made, raising the potential costs of compliance to industry’. Clarity on MEPS could unleash a ‘tidal wave of investment’ in the UK’s inefficient property stock, it argues.

The UK Green Building Council’s chief executive Paul King said: “The introduction of minimum energy performance standards in privately rented commercial buildings represents a huge market opportunity for the UK and industry is already gearing up to meet these key efficiency standards.

“But there are concerns that some within the Coalition are dragging their heels on MEPS and delaying its implementation. This could deliver a blow for businesses which are already taking steps to assess their property portfolios and improve poorly performing buildings, as well as the wider property market – with occupiers still facing the higher energy bills that come with energy inefficient buildings.”

EPC ratings

The 2011 Energy Act provides an obligation to upgrade the worst performing privately rented commercial buildings (and homes) – those with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating in band ‘F’ or ‘G’ – from April 2018.

But Government has so far failed to publish a consultation on the policy. The Green Building Council and business leaders believe doing so would help the UK to capitalise on the global energy efficiency market that is already worth more than £17.6bn to the economy.

Energy Performance Certificates became mandatory in 2008 and are required whenever a property is built, sold or rented. Energy used in non-domestic buildings is currently responsible for around 18 per cent of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

Read the full letter sent from the UK Green Building Council to David Cameron below.

Luke Nicholls

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