New EPC standards could hit one in three commercial properties

Commercial property owners across the country are being urged to 'get ahead of the game' and prepare for upcoming energy efficiency standards which could have a negative effect on more than a third of buildings.

Professional services firm WSP says owners should be more proactive when it comes to the energy performance rating (EPC) of their buildings, as the recent consultation launched by DECC proposes to make it mandatory for commercial properties with a poor energy rating – lower than EPC ‘E’ – to be brought up to standard before they can be let, from 2018.

“EPCs are benchmarked by building regulations which are revised on a regular basis,” explained WSP’s lead on EPCs Anna Walton. “Our research shows EPC ratings drop half to one band each time the regulations change. By 2018, this could mean that buildings with an EPC ‘E’ rating today could be classed as an EPC ‘F’. That would mean the number of buildings affected by DECC’s proposals is much higher than the consultation sets out.

“These proposals will have a significant impact on owners’ ability to lease their buildings if they’re adopted. Many property owners are already reviewing their buildings and developing proactive strategies in anticipation of the regulations and getting ahead of the game which is the right approach in our view.”

Under the Government’s proposals, buildings that score an E rating in today’s terms could be downgraded to an F rating by the time the regulations come into force, as EPC scoring gets progressively tighter as building regulations get more stringent over time. WSP’s research suggests that if this is the case, then the proposed MEP consultation could affect up to 35% of commercial property by 2018 – far higher than the 18% mentioned in the consultation.

Annual changes

WSP has modelled five reference buildings to show how the EPC bandings have changed between 2008 and 2013 and then further, how this could have changed again by 2018.

Walton added: “Many older EPCs, created just after the EPC regulations came into force, are of lesser quality, and use default values where efficiency values couldn’t be sourced. This gives a much lower EPC score than if accurate data is used.

“Furthermore, the rules, conventions and quality assurance were less developed than they are today, and many older EPCs do not truly reflect the actual condition of the building. The question you need to ask yourself is: if they were re-run in 2018, would they stand up to the inevitable scrutiny of a potential investor?”

WSP says there are some simple, cost effective ways of improving a building’s EPC rating. It says the two simplest approaches are to make sure the EPC is based on accurate data, not assumptions and, where investment is needed, focussing on efficient lighting as this has a significant influence on scores.

Luke Nicholls

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