The Scottish Government is consulting on new regulations that will require non-domestic building owners make improvements to the energy performance of larger properties.
The regulations will be made under Section 63 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, and will be an update to the The Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Regulations. The new regulations are scheduled to be in place in 2014.
As part of its contribution to the international effort required on climate change, the Scottish Government is committed to achieving an 80% reduction in Scotland’s emissions by 2050 and a 42% reduction by 2020 through the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
Buildings account for over 40% of the carbon emissions in the UK but less than 1% of the existing stock is replaced by new buildings each year. Emissions reductions will therefore take place very slowly through regulation of new-build alone, and attention is turning to existing properties.
Intended outcomes of policy
That non-domestic building owners make improvements to their larger properties. This will mean some buildings will become more energy efficient and abate carbon. If owners are not ready to make improvements, they make arrangements for measuring and reporting their operational energy use until they can make improvements. Operational ratings will make building users more aware of energy usage, the carbon footprint of their building and any processes. This will encourage energy savings and carbon abatement.
Platform for policy
The policy builds on the use of energy performance certificates (EPCs) for commercial property. EPCs give building owners a calculated indication of their building’s emissions and energy use. They also give recommendations for physical improvements to the building. EPCs are required when buildings are sold or leased. Using EPCs as the platform for the policy means that a separate assessment is not required and the cost of implementing section 63 is less.
How the policy will work
The building owner, after obtaining an EPC (on sale or new lease), must carry out certain prescribed improvements to their building. There is also an opportunity to carry out alternative improvements that are equal in carbon abatement. The owner may pass responsibility for doing improvements on to the new owner (this would likely be negotiated as part of the sale). The owner may allow the tenant to organise and do improvements but ultimately the owner is responsible (this would likely be negotiated as part of the tenancy agreement). The owner is given 3 ½ years to do the physical work.
However if they are not in a position to do the work they may extend the time to do the physical improvements indefinitely by entering into arrangements for measuring and recording operational ratings. This will be the equivalent of the Display Energy Certificate, as currently used on public buildings in England & Wales. The requirement to have an annual “DEC” is a lower cost option. The qualified person who does the EPC on behalf of the owner can assist the building owner with decisions.
Broad exemptions from the proposed regulations
The following categories of buildings are likely to be exempted:
- Less than 1000m2 in floor area (acts as a proxy to exempt SMEs)
- Where the owner takes up a Green Deal (a UK Government funding mechanism, such owners are already making improvements)
- Buildings that meet the building regulation energy standards introduced in 2002 (these buildings are already reasonably energy efficient)
Likely Timescale For Introduction of the Regulations
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the details of the proposed regulations, with consultations due to close on 23 May 2013. Implementation of the new regulations is expected in 2014, though no set date has as yet been agreed.
How EPCA can help
We are accredited EPC assessors for commercial property in Scotland, and England & Wales. EPCA are also a firm of Chartered Building Surveyors. We are well placed to offer advice both on the details of energy performance certification and the specification, financial appraisal and project management of any energy improvement works to existing commercial property.
Please call our Directors Matt White or William Bell if you have any queries.