New Look EPC register and Energy Certificates

The Government has launched a new EPC register and Energy Certificates.

Today, the Government is launching a new Central EPC Register for the Energy Performance of Buildings for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This will make a difference to how Energy Assessors work, and will also affect estate agents, solicitors, building control bodies and other organisations and companies who receive Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) or Display Energy Certificates (DECs).

The register is changing because the government has made a decision to bring it ‘in-house’ following the completion of their contract with Landmark. The new register has been launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) and will consolidate both domestic and non-domestic EPCs into one single location.

We are expecting the Government’s user experience to be similar to their other .gov websites with a view to engaging building owners to use the register to obtain their Energy Certificates and further information. We are hoping we can pass on a ‘weblink’ to customers to connect them directly to the new website.

The way we work, as Energy Assessors, will change slightly, however, the new Energy Certificate formats are not very different from the old ones. These changes will ensure that energy certificates will remain fit for purpose and the government will clearly own and control registrations.

Since writing the above we have already undertaken some new EPCs and thought you would be interested in seeing the new format. Here is an example of a certificate and a recommendation report.

If you would like any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01273 458484.

How we produce Commercial EPCs

Firstly, there are three types of Commercial (Non-Domestic) EPCs for three different building levels.

EPC for level 3 building

A level 3 EPC is a simple property with basic heating or air conditioning. This would typically be your High Street shop with domestic use above or Office or Warehouse.

EPC for level 4 building

A level 4 EPC would be required for a premise with a more complicated air-conditioning system, such as heat recovery and air handling units. This would include newer large office buildings with climate control and any other building with air-conditioning.

EPC for level 5 building

A level 5 EPC assessment is for a more complex building that would require special modelling software to determine the energy rating. This building might include a modern shopping centre or football stadium or a large City Hall or airport terminal. 

Commercial EPCs produce a building emissions rate (BER), based on the property’s fabric and installed business services. The BER could be compared to the target emission rate (TER), which would be the rate if the property was constructed to current buildings regulations.

An EPC does not take into account how energy is used. For example, if the owners don’t heat and light the property to a great extent, the energy bills may be very low. This is not reflected in the rating. 

In fact, the higher the BER relative to the TER, the higher the CO2 emissions and the lower the overall EPC rating. A is the best and G is the worst rating.

How is an EPC carried out?

As qualified assessors, we would visit the property and undertake a physical inspection of all the critical components including, building fabric, business services, lighting, heating and air-conditioning.

We would review any changes that might have happened to, or in, the building since the last EPC was conducted. 

We look at activities for each part of the property, and these might be sub-divided, grouped and measured in zones. All of this information and measurements are recorded and assessed in accordance with the overall size of the building.

Occasionally, the information is not entirely accurate, and we do seek out documentation from building inspectors and the person commissioning the EPC. Scale Floor Plans are always useful.

We might ask for planning reports to show extensions and alterations; serial numbers for heating, ventilation and cooling systems and any additional information on renewables.

As assessors, if the information is not provided and cannot be evidenced, we have to revert to a ‘default’ set of values, which suppresses the rating. 

If we are given with the information, we can override those values and produce a better-rated EPC.

Qualified Commercial EPC Assessors

Most Commercial EPCs are for Level 3 and Level 4 buildings recognised as the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM). The Dynamic Simulation Model (DSM) is applied for Level 5 buildings.

Assessors need to have the correct level of qualification to produce reports, ie a Level 4 Assessor can produce reports for Level 3 and 4 but not for Level 5.

All of the collected data is entered into the software to produce the EPC certificate and a separate Recommendations Report. These documents are recorded on the EPC Register.

Recommendation Reports

As Assessors, we produce reports to the best of our judgement, taking into account all activities, the building, the services and long-term plans. The recommendation report shows ways in which a building’s energy efficiency can be improved; the building’s fabric and construction have the most significant bearing on the rating, followed by building services and renewables.

When an EPC is produced, you will receive short-term, medium-term and long-term recommendations and improvement measures. These give additional value for intended users and highlight a considerable number of energy efficiency improvements.

How do I know if my EPC is valid?

When a Commercial EPC is recorded with the registry, it produces an RRN number at the top right-hand corner of the certificate. This number can be searched for by a prospective buyer or occupier on the non-domestic registry website.

If an assessor sends an EPC certificate without an RRN number, then the certificate has not been recorded, and it may be a matter for building control. 

Could an agent or vendor get away with not having a Commercial EPC?

Local building control officers and new build inspectors, as well as local authority planners, perform checks for EPCs when premises change hands or when they are first sold. 

Inspection certificates have to be in place for air-conditioning units above 12kWs and reviewed every five years. 

Copies of Commercial EPCs and air-conditioning reports can be requested, and the responsible person has seven days to produce the document once the enforcement agencies have started an investigation. The penalty for failing to provide a valid commercial EPC is fixed in most cases at 12.5% of the rateable value of the building. 

Fines between £500 and £5000 are issued.

If you are interested in booking an EPC for your business or commercial premises, please get in touch on 01273 458484 or use our contact form 

How to improve an EPC rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’.

If, when we have assessed a building, the EPC rating is only an ‘F’ or ‘G’, the building becomes unlawful to let. This rating is bad news to a Landlord as it means there will be no income until the building has been improved.

Equally, if the building’s Freehold was being Sold, then the buyer would not be able to raise finance, as technically, the building would not be able to produce an income to satisfy a Lender.

We recently carried out an EPC on a third-floor office suite, and unfortunately, the result was an’ F’ Rating. However, we were able to remodel the building in our software with different scenarios involving heating and lighting, to show the Landlord the most cost-effective way to improve the suite to an acceptable rating.

With being able to remodel the building in this way, the Landlord chose that the best and cheapest option, which was to replace some of the lighting with LED units. This work showed that with minimal cost, the EPC would be improved to an ‘E’ rating. We instructed an electrician to provide a schedule of works to the client.

Commercial EPC inspections during the lockdown

Skyline Energy Assessors have been able to carry out a limited number of EPC site visits during Lockdown, by adhering to Safe Distancing and PPE. These visits have been in vacant or unstaffed commercial premises.

To give an idea of the variety of different usage buildings that we see, I have mentioned them below.

EPC 4 commercial properties

We carried out an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) on a wide range of different premises during the lockdown in April, these ranged from small Retail Units in Richmond, Surrey and Brighton. The buildings were unoccupied and new leases were being granted. We also carried out EPC, at 9 pm in the evening to ensure safe distancing, on a Service Station/Convenience Store near Brighton.

We have also inspected two industrial storage/workshop units in Newhaven and a Trade Counter warehouse in Brighton.

All of the above received acceptable EPC Ratings of ‘E’ or above.