Are Commercial (Non-Dwelling) Energy Performance Certificates Useful?

Like it or not Commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) are here to stay, so why not make of the most of them?

Commercial EPC’s are a part of a package along with the, designed to help the UK meet its Kyoto Protocol targets, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. By definition the reduction in emissions means a reduction in energy use, which means there are financial savings to be made for the owners and occupiers of buildings.

The EPC is produced using the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) software, with various front-ends to allow the assessor to input data. The energy assessor/surveyor attends the building and makes measurements of the internal geometry, and an audit of the fixed building services such as: heating, cooling, and lighting and also makes a note of the occupancy use of the different areas or zones within the building. This allows the software to build up a picture of the buildings and produce an Asset Rating.

However, the EPC as a compliance document does not currently provide the client which much in the way of information on the data collected or the outputs that are created and which are available to the energy assessor, which break down the energy consumption of the building into a number of elements. Rescheck web 

The Recommendations Report which accompanies the EPC is another bone of contention. Generally the recommendations are poorly applied or thought out, with assessors unaware that the software was initially designed as a compliance tool, and therefore the recommendations that it produces are biased to provide designers of buildings with advice, or that the software contains errors that produces recommendations that are irrelevant to the building that was assessed.

Examples of this are:

“Carry out a pressure test, identify and treat air leakage. Enter result in EPC calculation”-The EPC produced for sale or let is a final document, it can be regarded as thoughtless and unprofessional, to then recommend to a client to have their corner shop air pressure tested in this way, due to the costs involved. Anyway what good would it do?

“Some walls have insulated cavities-introduce cavity wall insulation”-this recommendation occurs as an error in SBEM even when solid brick walls have been identified as a construction type

Some companies do however, consider all the recommendations and remove those that are irrelevant or generated by error. Others will add further user recommendations where applicable to help the owner and tenants to reduce their energy consumption and hence costs.

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