After many years of concern at the rate of climate change, and following repeated international protocols aimed at addressing the issue of carbon reduction, the UK Government is now acting with a flurry of initiatives and legislation.
A prominent component of these measures has been the introduction of legislation aimed specifically at identifying a building’s carbon emissions as well as wider energy related statistics. This ‘measurement’ is accomplished through the completion of a survey on a building and the issuing of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Anyone selling or renting a house will be familiar with this certificate already, and some people in the commercial sector are aware of the legislation that came into force on the 1st October 2008. An EPC is now required for a commercial building when it is built, rented or sold. But others are not.
The EPC for commercial buildings (or non-domestic properties as they are termed) are divided into three levels: Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5.
A Level 3 EPC covers existing building with smaller heating systems (up to 100kW) and comfort cooling systems (up to 12kW) and ‘typical’ construction and lighting systems. In practice, this would include most ‘domestic scale’ shops, offices and workshops, which make up the vast majority of commercial buildings.
Existing buildings with larger heating and cooling systems, more unusual construction and newly-constructed commercial buildings require a Level 4 or Level 5 EPC. A professional surveying company or one of the approved Accreditation Schemes would be best able to advise on which level a particular building belongs within.
What many are unaware of is the requirement to produce an energy assessment for air-conditioning systems. As air-conditions systems make an increasingly significant contribution to carbon emissions from buildings, it was imperative to target legislation focused specifically on these systems. From January 2009, air-conditioning systems come under the Energy Performance on Buildings Regulations and require an assessment and report on their energy efficiency. This is a two phase process.Air-conditioning systems over 250kW must have had their first assessment by 4 January 2009, and those over 12kW by 4 January 2011.
Perhaps to compound matters, a further complication could be finding an Energy Assessor to complete surveys for either commercial buildings or air-conditioning units. There are less than the Government’s target number of Non-Domestic Energy Assessors (NDEA) who have completed the requisite training to carry out the surveys. Furthermore there is a wide spread in the quality of training courses that have trained potential NDEAs and concern has been expressed by the Accreditation Schemes whose duty it is to manage the submission of EPCs or Reports and monitor the QA of the NDEA.
It is therefore important to check the credentials of a surveyor or company with one of the Accreditation Schemes before you commission the survey to be carried out. There are some low-priced surveys being offered – sometimes these have been found to be shoddy or inaccurate. So a word of warning to remember the old adage “You get what you pay for”.
What both the EPC and air-conditioning report do provide, as well as a rating of the building’s efficiency, are recommendations of improvements. A recommendation is shown with an average cost of implementation and the change to the rating of the EPC if it were carried out. This way, the owner or tenant can see the value and benefits of any proposed changes as well as potential costs. The recommendation also shows the carbon reduction that could be achieve by the proposed changes and, in this way, larger groups of companies with numerous buildings can see their carbon use, and calculate potential reductions for trades on the Carbon Exchange.
ecmk is an established leader within this market and have been in operation since 1993. ecmk operates an Accreditation scheme for all levels of Energy Assessors, provides training through its ABBE-approved Awarding Scheme (Diplomas for Commercial and Air-Conditioning Energy Assessment, as well as Display Energy Certificates for Public Buildings and Domestic properties). ecmk has developed its own energy calculation software of use by surveyors.