The Government is proposing a shake up to the current Display Energy Certificates to reduce the cost burden on the public sector with the likely outcome that schools, town halls and swimming pools will be exempt from the requirements to have a DEC. We have responded to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), who have produced the consultation document, expressing our negativity and concern to the proposals. The reality is that far greater financial savings can be achieved if DECs are acted upon to generate energy efficiency savings in these buildings compared to the relatively modest administrative savings of abolishing the DECs.
Our response is provided below.
To whom it may concern.
EVORA is a niche energy and sustainability consultancy working in the real estate field. We are involved in energy performance assessment of public and private sector occupied buildings. One of our core service offerings is to support clients with compliance requirements and this can involve obtaining DEC assessments (although we do not complete the assessments in house). I am the Operations Director of EVORA. My responses to consultation questions are provided below.
Question 1 – How could the existing enforcement regime be improved?
A clearer definition of ‘public authority’ and ‘frequently visited buildings’ are important and good steps (point 32). However, I think there is a risk, based on your planned definitions that schools will be excluded going forwards. I think it is vitally important that educational establishments are covered by DEC regulations. As a parent, I am regularly reminded of the energy inefficient operation of school buildings, on my infrequent (based on consultation paper definitions) school visits.
Questions 2 and 3 – How can enforcement be improved?
I do not think enforcement is effective and I am not aware of any enforcement action being taken. LWMAs may not be the most appropriate enforcement authority. However, I do not believe that passing this responsibility on to local authorities is the answer (point 43). In my opinion, this will create a ‘self-policing’ conflict of interest and open the scheme to criticism – as LAs will be the primary occupiers of public buildings. Furthermore, I do not believe that passing enforcement responsibility on to neighbouring local authorities will work.
I understand why this is being considered, as local authorities have a significant interest in the proper application for Energy Performance of Buildings. However, it may be worth considering the Environment Agency as an option. The EA is already responsible for CRC and ESOS schemes and transferring responsibility for policing of DEC (and EPC schemes) will allow for more joined-up thinking. It will also enable enforcement funding to be ring –fenced and will improve access to enforcement data. I also suggest that publication of non-compliance is considered.
Question 4 – Should the existing system of Display Energy Certificates and recommendation reports remain unaltered?
I believe that the DEC scheme, whilst it has failings, is well recognised and can be further developed to form an essential element of the UK Government’s approach to tackling inefficient buildings and more generally, climate change. Scrapping, or even diluting the scheme, will be a major step backwards for UK energy policy.
Question 5 – Should the exemptions from the requirements of the Directive be applied to qualifying buildings for Display Energy Certificates?
I do not believe that exemptions should be introduced. The consultation document (point 57) assumes that 1% of buildings may be exempted, creating savings of £83,520k annually. However, I believe that correct application of the DEC scheme, across the buildings at risk of being exempted, will identify energy saving opportunities well in excess of this figure. The benefits of applying the scheme correctly, will exceed the exemption benefits.
Question 6 – Should those buildings that have and display their Energy Performance Certificate be exempt from the requirements to have a Display Energy Certificate?
No – Display Energy Certificates and Energy Performance Certificates display different information. This approach would lead to confusion.
Question 7 – Should an energy certificate be required when 500m2 is occupied by public authorities and frequently visited by the public?
A clearer definition of ‘public authority’ and ‘frequently visited buildings’ are important and good steps (point 32). However, I believe that exclusion of schools will be a mistake. As referenced above, I think it is vitally important that educational establishments are covered by DEC regulations.
Question 8 & 9– Should the validity period of all Display Energy Certificates and their accompanying recommendation reports be five/10 years?
No – lengthening inspection cycles would lessen the effectiveness of the scheme.
Question 10 – Should the Display Energy Certificate regime be altered in the way outlined above?
Question 11 – Should the mandatory Display Energy Certificate regime be abolished?
The DEC scheme should continue as is, with focus on improved enforcement. Changes to simplify, or even abolishment, will be a major step backwards.
Question 12 – If Display Energy Certificates were no longer a statutory requirement, would you still obtain one (for example in order to monitor the energy efficiency of any non-dwelling)? Question 13 – Which proposal (or combination) is your preferred outcome?
I think DEC completion would fall significantly (and be exceeded by private sector voluntary take up) if it were no longer a statutory requirement. I therefore believe it is vital that the scheme is maintained and that enforcement practices are strengthened.