Commercial property: A certified way to save your energy

It is ten years since the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) was introduced for commercial properties north of the Border, and non-domestic energy assessors are still out on the ground doing ‘missionary’ work.

While EPCs, which benchmark a property’s energy efficiency, have been broadly accepted, it is fair to say that it has been with reluctance, scepticism and a degree of ignorance.

What many businesses and property owners may not be aware of is that the certificates expire after a decade, and the industry in now seeing the first waves of revisits to properties where the original EPC has formally lapsed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

While there is a much greater level of understanding among professionals, within certain ownership classes there is still a degree of ignorance and even bemusement about the legislation.

Originally derived from the European Union, people may be wondering how our imminent departure from that club will affect the EPC.

Realistically, there is little chance of repeal of current regulations, since the Scottish Government continues its aim of reducing emissions.

So, what do property owners need to do now? Essentially, anyone seeking to sell or lease a property, should be checking their EPC now to make sure that it is still current.

Even landlords with sitting tenants, whereby a lease renewal might be on the cards, should be examining their existing EPCs, as while the legislation has broadly remained the same, the process of assessing properties has changed over the last ten years.

Calculation software tools used in determining EPCs has improved over the period, allowing for greater modelling possibilities.

The professional approach has also changed, especially in Scotland where we have adopted the UK national conventions.

The conventions upon which assessments are based are ever evolving and have become much more stringent.

Buildings will have changed also and those assessed in 2009 are likely to receive a notably different rating now.

EPCs still do the same job, providing information on energy efficiency, advising on how a property could be improved and giving guidance on what costs and savings might be involved in improving a building. There is much more to the certificate than simply the letter band and rating.

The modelling capacity of assessment software used by some in the industry these days is powerful, offering the scope to run various scenarios very quickly if a client chooses to investigate beyond the initial benchmarking stage.

Surprisingly, however, I could count the number of times I have been asked to do so on the fingers of one hand.

But owners could take the opportunity of viewing EPCs in the same way as car MOT tests. You can either have the vehicle serviced before it is tested, because you don’t want it to fail. Or you could use the MOT to discover the things that actually need to be looked at.

It could be that your EPC might be out of date in a legal sense, but also in a very practical sense.

Mark O’Neill is a commercial valuations specialist and a certified energy performance assessor at DM Hall Chartered Surveyors.