Energy Performance Certificates: more than just a household name

by Tim Deakin Business Energy News

Energy Performance Certificates: more than just a household name

Kermit was right: it ain’t easy being green. But when it comes to the buying and selling of commercial property, showcasing efficiency credentials is crucial.

In April 2018 the rules surrounding commercial and rented properties changed, requiring them to have a minimum “E” energy rating rather than the “F” or “G” which had previously been acceptable. In fact, commercial loans for the sale of such a property can now only be approved if energy efficiency standards have been met.

What is an EPC?

First things first, what exactly is an EPC? And how does it differ between commercial and domestic settings? To put it simply, EPCs reveal how energy efficient a building is by grading it through a system that runs from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient).

An EPC informs a person how costly it is to heat and light the building, and what the carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be. They also state what the rating could be if changes were made to improve energy efficiency within the building.

Although there are a few exceptions (such as a place of worship or a building due to be demolished), the vast majority of commercial buildings are required by law to have an EPC. If you don’t, you could face a fine of between £500 and £5000!

While most of us are familiar with seeing EPC certificates as part of domestic property sales, the importance and benefits of certification in a commercial setting should not be overlooked.

What does an EPC Assessment look at?

An EPC will look generally at the efficiency of your business, and some of the aspects it will explore include:

  • Boiler type and efficiency
  • Insulation measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation
  • Water tank type and efficiency
  • Window efficiency, i.e. existence and effectiveness of double glazing
  • Radiators
  • Energy use per square metre
  • Carbon dioxide emissions

Unlike a domestic EPC, it is a legal requirement to display your commercial EPC if the building is visited by members of the public and if it has a total floor area of more than 500 metres.

The benefits of a strong EPC rating

For those involved in the buying and selling of a property, an EPC rating is often considered to be just another box that needs to be ticked alongside other elements such as legal fees, surveys, agency fees, etc. Yet there are real, long-term benefits to putting time and energy into making energy efficiency improvements and not simply making do with an E rating.

The most obvious benefit of improved thermal efficiency is that businesses can reduce their business operating costs by cutting their utility bills. Lower overheads translate into increased profits, which is of course, music to the ears of shareholders.

Taking steps to lower energy usage and improve efficiency also shows a business’s commitment to lowering its carbon footprint – something that has far-reaching consequences beyond the simple day-to-day of working life.

In some industries a keen focus on efficiency can actually become an important selling point. In the hospitality sector, for example, figures show that sustainability is fast becoming one of the most important points of consideration among hotel guests — particularly business travellers. One study by Deloitte found that 95% of business travellers feel the hoteliers should take steps to improve sustainability. What’s more, the same travellers stated that they would not stay at a venue if the environmental cost was too high.

Research also reveals that between 70-80% of Millennials (who make up the majority of today’s hotel guests) are more loyal to a company that makes them feel that they are contributing to social and environmental issues. So, taking measures to be more sustainable can actually improve your brand reputation, creating a more conscious connection with guests.

How to improve your EPC

You’d be forgiven for thinking improving your business’s energy efficiency would be pricey and time consuming, but data shows that the opposite is true. According to data from Cornell University’s Centre for Hospitality Research, recent advances in technology related to renewable sources of energy have made them much more economically viable, increasing the ease with which brands can acquire and use sustainable materials.

There are also lots of small, simple steps you can take to improve your EPC rating, including:

  • Switching to energy efficient lighting
  • Upgrading your heating so it’s more efficient
  • Installing insulation, such as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation
  • Introducing double or triple glazing
  • Finding a more sustainable energy provider

Run a business and want to find out more about taking your EPC in hand. Speak to one of our consultants for more information here.

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