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Efficiency targets set for commercial buildings

Led by the European Union’s
Energy
Performance in Building Directive
, new regulations came into effect
this October, requiring all commercial buildings sold or leased to obtain an
Energy
Performance Certificate
.

The certificate will give businesses a better idea of their buildings’
environmental efficiency and carbon emissions by grading them from A to G, with
A being the most efficient. Previously, the EU legislation only applied to
buildings larger than 2,500sq/m, but now any commercial building that fails to
provide this documentation to potential buyers or tenants could incur a fine
equivalent to 12.5% of the value of the property.

Under the Energy Performance in Building Directive, EPCs will be divided into
two certificates for commercial buildings:

  • Asset certificates which measure the energy performance of a building based
    on its design, which will need to be renewed every ten years.
  • An operating certificate which measures how the building is managed and how
    it actually performs.

Certificates can be obtained by contacting an accredited assessor who will
inspect the property.

Assessment costs vary depending on the size of the building. Companies
receive a report with recommendations on how to improve their rating and are
then expected to either make the recommended changes before applying for the
certificate, or apply for the certificate straight away.

Suggested improvements
Typical recommendations to businesses following an assessment include:

  • Installing solar water heating and electricity generation;
  • Controlling the thermostat of the building more effectively to ensure that
    heating is not wasted; and
  • Replacing standard lighting with energy-efficient lighting.

Insurance company
RSA
was advised to make changes to its heating and ventilation system in its
Manchester office at a cost of £15,000. However, it estimates that this
investment will lead to an annual saving in the region of £6,000 (and 36,171kg
of CO2).

Alex Matthias, energy management leader at RSA says, “Buildings are
responsible for almost 50% of the UK’s energy consumption and minor changes to
the property’s heating and ventilation systems could not only save companies
thousands, of pounds, but could also play a significant part in reducing the
UK’s carbon emissions. To some, the legislation may appear unnecessary and
costly, but there are significant savings to be made in the long term.”

EPCs are ostensibly designed to give companies a clearer idea as to the size
of their energy costs and carbon footprint of their buildings. But they are also
widely expected to lay the ground work for future green taxes, with the least
environmentally-friendly properties being subject to higher rates of tax.

Useful link
For more information of carbon emissions, go to the
Carbon
Trust

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