In a consultation published on Wednesday, the Department for Communities and Local Government suggested ‘removing the legal requirement’ for DECs, which show the energy performance of public buildings such as town halls, swimming pools and schools in the form of an alphabetic scale which runs from A to G.

The consolation, which investigates how the current system could be streamlined and improved, states that the removal of DECs entirely is “in line with Government policy not to gold-plate EU Directives, i.e. not to go further than the minimum requirements”.

“The objective is to simplify the regulatory regime as it applies to public buildings, taking appropriate advantage of the flexibilities afforded by the Directive, while continuing to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and minimising unnecessary burdens upon the public purse and ultimately the taxpayer,” the consultation document states.

It concludes that no longer requiring a Display Energy Certificate and recommendation report would save public authorities approximately £0.76m annually and Net Present Value of £63.17m. 

Beggars belief

But John Alker, acting chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, says any suggestion of scrapping DECs for public buildings “simply beggars belief”.

“Government time and again trots out the mantra of not ‘gold-plating’ EU requirements to minimise administrative costs, but completely misses the potential benefits that going further offers,” said Alker.

“There are clear examples – including the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s own headquarters – where DECs have helped public bodies to reduce their energy use and slash bills by an amount that hugely outweighs the administrative costs.

“Rather than rowing back on DECs, Government needs to ensure they are better enforced, with a view to extending them beyond public buildings.”

Difficult to manage

Since 2008, all public buildings over 1,000m² have been required to have a DEC which shows the energy performance of the building based on its actual annual energy consumption and the CO₂ emissions that result from that energy use.

In today’s consultation, the Government acknowledged it was “aware of concerns that any changes reducing the frequency or reach of Display Energy Certificates could potentially make it more difficult to manage energy performance of large public estates”.

Last week, the UK Green Building Council praised the Government for its announcement of new rules forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, with Alker claiming it was the “most significant legislation in a generation”.

Sustainability Live 2015 

Energy-efficient buildings will be a key theme at Sustainability Live 2015 in April, with a number of keynote sessions and panel discussions focusing on the opportunities for improving building performance and energy efficiency, retrofit strategies and the future energy management of buildings. 

Find out more and register to attend Sustainability Live 2015 here. 

Luke Nicholls

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