Property sector calls for introduction of mandatory energy standards

Property sector urges government to introduce mandatory energy standardsAhead of the Queen’s Speech today, business leaders from some of the UK’s biggest property owners, developers and occupiers are urging the Government to end the “prevarication” around the introduction of mandatory energy standards for privately rented commercial buildings, amid concerns there is “significant opposition” to them within the Coalition. The UK Green Building Council has released the text of a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron by the heads of major companies including Legal and General, Whitbread, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer on the Government’s proposed minimum energy performance standards (MEPS). It argues that commercial buildings are responsible for around one fifth of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.However, the sector offers some of the most cost-effective carbon abatement and energy efficiency potential, which if delivered, would ‘bring enormous benefits for the UK in terms of business competitiveness, economic growth, and energy security’.

The 2011 Energy Act provides an obligation to upgrade the worst performing privately rented commercial buildings (and homes) – those with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating in band “F” or “G” – from April 2018. But the Government has so far failed to publish a consultation on the policy. In the letter, the Chief Executives warn that the current uncertainty around the implementation of MEPS is “preventing timely preparations from being made, raising the potential costs of compliance to industry.”

Clarity on MEPS however, could unleash a “tidal wave of investment” in the UK’s inefficient property stock, helping the UK to capitalise on the global energy efficiency market that is already worth more than £17.6bn to the economy. Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “The introduction of minimum energy performance standards in privately rented commercial buildings represents a huge market opportunity for the UK and industry is already gearing up to meet these key efficiency standards. “But there are concerns that some within the Coalition are dragging their heels on MEPS and delaying its implementation. This could deliver a blow for businesses which are already taking steps to assess their property portfolios and improve poorly performing buildings, as well as the wider property market – with occupiers still facing the higher energy bills that come with energy inefficient buildings.” Visit the UK-GBC site to read the full text of the letter.