On the 9th January 2013 the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 entered into force introducing further changes to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for commercial and public sector buildings. EPCs and DECs are designed to inform buyers or tenants about the energy performance of a building thus enabling them to consider energy efficiency as part of their investment or business decision to buy or occupy that building.
The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (the “2012 Regulations” ) implement the requirements of the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings (the “recast Directive”) which laid down measures to ensure that all public buildings become nearly zero carbon by 2018 and all new buildings are nearly zero carbon by 2021. The 2012 Regulations replace existing regulations for England and Wales. Separate regulations apply to Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The widening of the threshold for EPCs and DECs means that more commercial buildings will be subject to more scrutiny in respect of energy performance. Interestingly, stricter requirements arrive at a time when the European Commission has started infringement proceedings against 19 member states for poor implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2002/91/EC).
Changes to EPCs for commercial properties
Property advertisements must now include details of the EPC rating where available. This means that all sales or lettings advertisements in the commercial media should show the EPC rating of the property being advertised. There is no requirement to display the full certificate unless there is adequate space but the advertisement must always include the actual EPC rating of the property. The requirement to append the EPC to the property particulars has been removed.
An EPC must now be displayed in commercial premises larger than 500m² that are frequently visited by the public where an EPC has previously been issued on the sale, rent of construction of that building.
Changes to DECs in public buildings
DECs showing an operational rating of a building are now required in public buildings larger than 500m² (reducing the threshold from 1000m²) that are occupied in whole or in part by a public authority and are frequently visited by the public. The DEC must be accompanied by an advisory report. Where the building has a total useful floor area of more than 1000m² the DEC is valid for 12 months. The accompanying advisory report is valid for seven years. Where the building has a total useful floor area of between 500m² and 1000m² the DEC and advisory report are valid for 10 years. Importantly, the recast Directive requires the threshold to halve again to 250m² from 9 July 2015.
Local weights and measures authorities can issue a penalty charge notice of £500 for failure to display a DEC at all times in a prominent place clearly visible to the public, and £1000 for failure to possess or have in their control a valid advisory report.
From 9 January 2013 all air conditioning equipment with an effective rated output of more than 12kw must be regularly inspected by an energy assessor. The inspections must be no more than five years apart. This will include systems consisting of individual units which are less than 12kW but whose combined effective rated output is more than 12kW. The penalty for failing to have an air conditioning inspection report is fixed at £300. A further penalty can be issued for failure to provide a copy of the air conditioning inspection report when requested to an officer of an enforcement authority within seven days. This is fixed at £200.
The 2012 Regulations extend the list of buildings exempt from the requirement to have an EPC, so that it now includes:
- buildings and monuments officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historical merit;
- buildings which are used for religious activities or as places of worship (removing the requirement that this should be their primary or sole purpose);
- non-residential agricultural buildings which are in use by a sector covered by a national sectoral agreement on energy performance; and
- stand-alone dwellings with a total useful floor area of less than 50m².
Four new guidance documents have been published by the Department of Communities and Local Government to accompany the 2012 Regulations, replacing the previously published guidance. They cover EPCs for domestic and non-domestic buildings, DECs and air conditioning system inspections.
The guidance documents can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/TyVcxM