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UK-GBC hits out at energy certificate policy in open letter to minister

An open letter has been sent to Communities Minister Don Foster by UK-GBC’s chief executive Paul King, expressing his concerns regarding implementation of the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

Mr King said that despite concerns being raised repeatedly by the industry, Mr Foster is to enforce the display of Energy Performance Certificates, as opposed to the Display Energy Certificates required in public buildings.

EPCs were designed for use in property transactions and show only theoretical energy consumption, whereas DECs were designed for displaying actual energy performance information to building visitors.

“Unfortunately, to the public – and even to some in the investment community – they look like the same thing.

“Fundamentally though, they cannot be compared. If they are compared, those displaying EPCs will appear to be performing better than those displaying DECs.”

Mr King said that the non-domestic EPC is seriously lacking in credibility in the property industry for being “inaccurate and at times misleading”.  

He also stated that it will become much harder once commercial buildings display an EPC to convince them that they should display a DEC, whether through a mandatory ruling or through voluntary action.

According to Mr King, business owners will argue that if the DEC is a poorer rating, it will look to their customers and shareholders as if their energy efficiency has become worse overnight.

“At the very least, I urge you to ensure the regulations allow the display of a DEC where one exists, which would enable organisations like ours to encourage voluntary action,” added Mr King.

His second concern regards the validity of DECs, which will now be required for public buildings between 500 sq m -999 sq m to have a ten year validity period. Mr King called this “quite absurd”, as “the DEC rating and report will go out of date well before the end of that ten year period so as to be practically useless”.

He strongly urges Mr Foster to reconsider, as “DECs in the public sector are driving performance improvements in large part because of their annual nature.”

Mr King ends his letter by stating that “while it is understandable that government wants to minimise perceived burdens on business, the whole regime of EPCs and DECs is being implemented in such a way that the market, including the incredibly influential investment community, are left hugely frustrated.”

According to Mr King, the current set up will “neither minimise the burden on business, nor drive energy efficiency improvements.”

“This whole policy area is crying out for a serious shake-up, so that we achieve carbon and energy reductions in a way that provides benefits for business,” he added.

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