It was only 16 years ago that the European Commission were faced with the concerning figure that 40% of worldwide carbon emissions were a direct result of poor energy efficiency in buildings of the United Kingdom alone. Addressing this issue was, understandably, a daunting task. Not only would new builds need to be regulated more heavily but pre-existing buildings would need to be heavily adjusted to reduce inefficiency. Managing upheaval on this scale would take time, strategy, and patience. And so, the Energy Performance Building Directive (EPBD) was born. The rationale was this: if an energy efficient home became desirable for even the least environmentally minded, then it would create an incentive for homeowners to improve the efficiency of their properties and emissions from buildings would reduce by proxy. Achieving this required a gradual process; first, introducing mandatory energy efficiency surveys of buildings and second, clamping down on the most inefficient properties.
Surveying the energy performance of existing buildings was accomplished by way of Energy Performance Certificates or EPC’s. Prior to the lease or sale of a property, homeowners would be required to commission a survey of the energy efficiency of their home by an accredited energy assessor. The resulting report would detail the current energy efficiency of the property represented by a graded rating along with current running costs and recommendations for changes that could be made to the property in order to improve running costs and thus, energy efficiency. Potential buyers or tenants would then be legally required to be provided with these details and the resulting grade would need to be officially registered while the property is on the market, else the property owner would be liable to significant fines.
EPC’s were successfully introduced in the U.K. in 2008 and are now well established as a part of the selling or letting process of a property. Interestingly, EPC’s have also been largely to thank for the increase in energy efficiency related fields; creating greater employment prospects for accredited Domestic Energy Assessors as well as businesses specialising in improving energy efficiency of buildings such as insulation companies. As intended, there is also emerging evidence of EPC’s increasing house prices throughout Europe. An increase in EPC grading by just one level has been associated with an increase in valuation by 4% in Belgium and the U.K., 2.8% in the Netherlands, 8% in Austria, 4.3% in France, and 2.8% in Ireland. Likewise, rental prices of energy efficient homes in France, Ireland and Austria is estimated to be lower than inefficient properties.
As of this year, 2016, the U.K. has experienced the next wave of the directive: restricting energy inefficient properties by introducing minimum grading levels. In April 2016, landlords were liable to fines of up to £150,000 or prosecution if they help properties with a rating of E or lower. If successful, this move could be the most successful yet as currently properties with a rating of E or less comprise almost 18% of the properties in the U.K. However, this is a ‘soft-start’ because by April 2023, plans are to roll out a minimum efficiency of E to all properties in the U.K. The Scottish government are even already working towards this end-goal, with the Scottish Fuel Poverty Strategic Working Group have supported a call to invest over £1 billion to ensure all properties meet a minimum EPC rating of C.
At the present, there is little literature that covers the potential energy savings purely from the introduction of EPC’s. However, it is evident that from humble beginnings EPC’s have already began to make a significant mark.
Article Courtesy of: Jason McGrinder, Director at EPC For You