How is energy efficiency in construction regulated?
From 1 April 2023, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for non-domestic buildings will make it unlawful to continue to lease a commercial property with an energy rating of F or G.
Since April 2018 it has been illegal to establish or extend a new lease for a commercial building with an energy rating less than E. Now, this requirement also applies in the middle of a commercial lease.
However, despite these regulations and the five-year lead time to improve the energy ratings of commercial buildings, it was recently reported that less than a third of businesses know how energy efficient their office space is.
Ensuring compliance: commercial energy assessments and EPCs
To comply with the law, a commercial energy assessment is required for any non-domestic building. This provides proof on behalf of the owner that their building meets the minimum requirements. If not, remedial action will be required.
The energy efficiency of a building needs to be assessed to prepare an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which must be obtained from an approved commercial energy assessor. Certificates are valid for 10 years and are needed to market or rent a building.
As we continue to reduce our operational carbon emissions in the UK and seek new ways to achieve energy-efficient construction, the government is expected to legislate for an EPC minimum of B by 2030 for non-domestic buildings.
However, figures from 2022 show that in London just 25% of all non-domestic buildings currently meet EPC B. A huge amount of work needs to be done to meet that 2030 energy rating target.
What are the legal requirements for residential properties?
The comparable MEES regulations for privately rented residential properties have been in place since April 2020, with a requirement for landlords to ensure their building meets a minimum of EPC E by that date. By 2025, new private domestic rentals will need to meet a minimum of EPC C, expanding to all domestic rentals by 2028.
Using technology to improve energy efficiency in construction
As the deadline to meet these targets approaches, it is imperative that owners and landlords understand their built assets and ensure that they are fit for purpose under the new rules.
With a legal duty to understand the energy rating of their buildings, whether domestic or commercial, the need for widespread energy assessments to plug this knowledge gap has never been greater.
A qualified energy assessor needs to access the right information quickly and easily to undertake a comprehensive and accurate energy assessment.
That’s where Bluebeam can help. Assessors can easily review building plans and check key areas that influence energy performance, such as:
- Overall square metres
- Number, size and type of doors
- Number and size of windows
- Glazing type
- Heating and cooling systems
- Lighting and appliances
- Wall insulation type and thickness
- Roof and floor insulation type and thickness
With Bluebeam, energy assessors can quickly mark up plans to provide a clear overview of the building’s fabric before the energy calculations are carried out.
Recommendations can then be made to improve the EPC rating of the building where applicable, with notes and checklists saved against drawings. These could include interventions such as adding better insulation or installing lower-energy lighting, new windows or doors.
For buildings requiring a substantial overhaul, a retrofit coordinator can advise and project manage the entire retrofit process, from on-site inspection through to collaborative design with the wider project team. We’ll be discussing this in more detail in a blog post next month and featuring a section on it in our upcoming e-book, which focuses on managing built assets.