A clearer more enforceable energy efficiency policy is needed for commercial buildings

A clearer more enforceable energy efficiency policy is needed for commercial buildingsThere is a critical need for to simplify the regulatory framework designed to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings finds a recent report from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) Carbon Management & Sustainable Buildings Working Group. It also suggests that Brexit could act as a spur to rethink the right combination of policies to reform enforcement systems. The report, Improving non-domestic energy efficiency after Brexit, one of a series EIC is publishing setting out its members’ views on the impact of Brexit on environmental policy and how policy should evolve after the UK leaves the EU, covers the breadth of energy efficiency policy for non-domestic buildings. As part of its research, EIC surveyed England’s local authorities, who have responsibility for trading standards, finding that out of those that responded (122 out of 149), no local authorities have been issuing fines for failing to display Energy Performance Certificates or Display Energy Certificates.

EIC executive director Matthew Farrow says: “Business energy efficiency has a prominent role in the Clean Growth Strategy, but current policies are not coherent and don’t command the confidence of the energy management industry nor business energy consumers.  And the fact that not a single local authority has issued fines for failure to display EPCs shows that the way we enforce policy needs to change – the best policy is of limited value if not backed up by enforcement on the ground.”

Sunil Shah, Chair of the EIC Carbon Management & Sustainable Buildings Working Group and managing director of Acclaro Advisory said: “Theresa May’s challenge to the sector to halve carbon emissions should not just rest with new buildings, but with the whole property sector if we are to make any headway on the Paris Agreement. This EIC report highlights the deep challenges faced with the existing regulatory regime and provides a pathway through the use of energy data, longer term clarity on policy and effective enforcement.”

The report, which can be downloaded here, also suggests:

  • Reducing the period of EPC validity to 5 years and considering the methodology used to create modelled ratings.
  • Setting a long-term trajectory for the MEES, setting a minimum standard of C for non-domestic buildings by 2030 and introducing the MEES at point of sale.
  • Centralising existing energy data into a single platform for select public usage.
  • Removing responsibility for the enforcement of energy efficiency policy from Trading Standards.

Said Sunil Shah in his introduction to the report: “Combining a prosperous economy and decarbonisation is going to be more important than ever after Brexit. I hope that this report, based on the deep expertise of EIC’s members, will show that pragmatic ways forward to get energy efficiency moving again do exist and can be implemented if the will and determination is there.”