3rd December 2021
In this short piece, we will explain in simple terms how to improve an EPC Rating for commercial property. We’ll look at what it is, why you need to do it, the financial risk of non-compliance and then the step by step guide to the most cost-effective routes to compliance and then touch on future-proofing for future legislation.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is awarded after a survey of a building to assess its energy efficiency rating. Any report will produce a series of recommendations of ways to improve the energy efficiency of the building.
The rating is based on a scale of A-G with ‘A’ being the most energy-efficient and ‘G’ the least energy efficient.
Under the Government Pledge to reach net-zero by 2050, in 2018 new rules were introduced of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).
These are NOT guidelines but legally enforceable standards with teeth. If your building is let and does not reach an EPC rating of E or above by April 2023, it will be an offence to CONTINUE to let it, grant a new lease, or even renew the existing lease.
Listed commercial buildings do have some leeway under the new rules, but they do NOT escape the rules altogether.
The summary for the entire sector is that you must do “what is reasonable without damaging or altering the external fabric of the building to reach the minimum standard”.
So, for example, it would probably be considered unreasonable to have to change the glazing in a listed building where the facade was protected, or add external insulation to the building fabric. However, upgrading internal lighting and installing a new energy efficient boiler or heating system, would be required. External heat Pumps may also not be considered appropriate if they were to detract from the external protected elements of the building. The decision for this would fall under the remit of the local authority planning team.
One critical point to note with listed commercial buildings however is that you CANNOT assume your building will be exempt. It is your responsibility to find out if your building requires an EPC.
Some industrial buildings will also have an exemption if they are predominantly unoccupied space, used mainly for storage or manufacture. The offices and welfare spaces in the same building will however need to be improved.
– If you have done all that is possible with the building to make improvements and it still falls below the EPC E rating
– If the improvements required are not considered cost-effective (ie no reasonable payback)
– If the improvements required such as external insulation would adversely affect the fabric of the building
– If you cannot get consent from the ultimate freeholder to make the changes required
– If the improvements would cause the building to be devalued by more than 5%
Again, the onus is on you to PROVE exemption and you cannot assume any of the above apply to your particular circumstances. These exemptions only last five years and if the building is sold, the new owner will NOT automatically be exempt from the guidelines.
The penalties are all documented and can become significant very quickly. If you are a commercial landlord and either grant a new lease, renew a lease or most importantly CONTINUE to let a non-compliant property after 1st April 2023 you can face the following fines.
– Breach for less than 3 months: 10% of the rateable value (min. £5,000 / max. £50,000)
– Breach for more than 3 months: 20% of the rateable value (min. £10,000 / max. £150,000)
– Providing false or misleading exemption information: max. £5,000
– Failing to comply with a compliance notice: max. £5,000
There are four main areas that the EPC could identify for improvement
In our previous piece about how to Decarbonise your business, this was our number one recommendation and it’s the same when it comes to improving your EPC rating too.
Heat loss from walls and roofs is significant. In this study from Resurgence, they show the average loss as follows:
Ground Floor 7%
Even with cavity wall insulation, there is room for improvement. However, with solid brick or metal-clad external walls, additional insulation will have a significant effect.
There’s no doubt that for a business, adding additional insulation will have a big impact, but it’s not without a potential for serious business interruption. There’s also likely to be a significant price tag attached too.
The impact of draughts is often overlooked, but as you can see from the figures above, the gains to be made by preventing heat loss through draughts is significant. These can be simple and cost-effective measures and have a huge impact on the energy efficiency and heat loss of a commercial building.
Whilst there are guidelines for some listed buildings, upgrading the glazing to double or triple glazing on exterior facing walls will have a marked effect on your EPC. Some of the more specialist glazing such as Pilkington K, which forms the inner pane of an energy-efficient glazing unit, will also help greatly too. The coating on the glass reflects heat back into the room whilst also letting in heat from the sun, known as passive solar gain.
An inefficient boiler or air conditioning system can have a huge impact on the EPC and equally importantly, the running costs of a building. An older Cast Iron boiler can be as low as 50% efficient, whilst a new commercial condensing boiler can reach 97% efficiency.
We’ve written over here about the ten signs your commercial boiler may need replacing and upgrades to HVAC can have extremely fast paybacks, due to much lower running costs and those improved efficiencies.
Whilst we would say that wouldn’t we, replacing the HVAC system can be a far more cost-effective route to reach an EPC rating of ‘E’, than almost any of the other measures on this list.
Many commercial buildings that are currently in the F and G rating categories will have inefficient halogen bulbs or fluorescent lighting. We see this very regularly on older commercial sites.
The legal imperative to change and improve should be added to the huge incentive of significantly lower running costs of newer LED lighting or more modern fluorescent lighting solutions. The addition of lighting controls, so you aren’t lighting empty spaces, will also have a marked effect, for a relatively modest outlay.
Any system will only keep operating to its maximum efficiency if it is regularly monitored and maintained.
A BMS (Building Management System) will allow external monitoring and overall control of the system to ensure ongoing operating efficiency. The data the system will provide also allows careful observation of potential improvements. It sounds obvious, but ensuring a heating system is not blasting out heat during unoccupied periods can also have a big impact on bills and contribute towards an improvement to the EPC rating.
EPC E rating probably isn’t that big a challenge for most businesses and most commercial property owners. It can be reached with just a few of the above options.
This change to the standards is just the beginning and the next standard hurtling towards the business community arrives in April 2027 and then another in April 2030.
By April 2027, the building will have to have achieved a rating of C.
This is swiftly followed by the requirement for all rented commercial premises achieving a rating of B by 1 April 2030
Reaching these standards will have a huge impact on business and, for many commercial properties, require significant work.
If you would like honest and objective advice about how to improve your EPC rating, reduce your running costs or reduce your businesses carbon footprint, please call the Kimpton Decarb Team on 0151 343 1963
– BEIS The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
– EPB Regulations The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012 No. 3118) that set out the requirements for EPCs.
– EPC Energy Performance Certificate
– Fitout Process of installing and furnishing empty premises with equipment and appliances (such as lighting, heating, and ventilation) as well as final decoration so the premises are in an occupiable state.
– MEES Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
«Back to Blog
Kimpton Energy Solutions have provided a reliable and helpful service at Dover and Philharmonic Court since they were opened in 2014 /15. A good working relationship is maintained with the service engineers and having a key account manager who is responsive and maintains regular communication has been a key factor in service provision.Having a…
Kimptons provided a ‘planned maintenance schedule’ to suit our academic year requirements and maintained the dates set out. Their engineers were always well presented and aware of how to conduct themselves within our environment. They were all trained and knowledgeable on the various items of equipment they came to work on. Mr Mike Pickles,…
We are happy with the service Kimptons have provided over the years. Their engineers are local and have great knowledge of our systems. We have built up an excellent working relationship with service engineers along with their office staff. Mr Kevin Foy, Notre Dame College
The Kimpton engineers on site are always accommodating to requests from the estates team with regards to heating, ventilation and air conditioning issues. The planned maintenance schedule has developed over the years and works well throughout the year. Having a key account manager who attends site on a weekly basis provides an excellent line…
The installation will improve the comfort conditions in several areas of the school servicing both pupils and staff. We are very experienced in undertaking projects in these conditions were flexibility and careful scheduling is key and this was crucial to our appointment on this contract.
We have been using TKR Services since their inception and during that time they proved to be not only commercially competitive, but also, looking from an Engineers point of view they have strived to provide the highest quality work.
The Plaza is a showpiece building for Bruntwood in Liverpool and we have since made it our own headquarters in the city. To reflect this, we needed to ensure that the fit out was of the highest quality, whilst maintaining the high levels of service our tenants expect from Bruntwood.