To help support the UK’s Net Zero Carbon target, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations were introduced in 2018. The end goal of these regulations is to ensure privately rented properties achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) B rating by 1st April 2030.
The latest update, on 1st April 2023, extends the EPC E requirement for new privately rented properties to all existing leases. The next step is expected to be an increase to EPC C on 1st April 2027.
The leap from EPC E to EPC B will present many challenges and the financial penalties for non-compliance for commercial buildings are up to 20% of rateable value (capped at £150,000). There are a number of exemptions, but undoubtedly there will be far-reaching implications for property owners, developers, and businesses alike.
Integration provide building services design and sustainability strategies for refurbishments and heritage buildings and this article looks at some of the key ways existing buildings can meet EPC B.
7 strategies to achieve EPC B
1. Plan ahead
If you're embarking on a new project, it's important to factor in the EPC B target from the outset. Incorporating energy-efficient elements into the design phase can save time, resources, and the need for future interventions.
2. Go all-electric
Transitioning to all-electric heating and hot water systems is one of the main ways to significantly reduce carbon emissions. This intervention aligns with the UK’s rapidly decarbonising electricity grid. In one of our recent projects, 40 Grosvenor Gardens, we were able to achieve an all-electric approach despite the limited space and Grade II listing.
3. Upgrading windows
Single glazed windows have a heat loss 3 or 4 times that of efficient double glazing. As well have offering poor insulation, older windows are one of the main sources of air leakage. Upgrading windows can help to reduce cold drafts significantly. An air pressure test carried out after the installation of new windows should show a big improvement to the air permeability. If new windows are not possible, secondary glazing will more than halve the heat loss.
4. Improving insulation
Adding insulation to the thermal envelope can offer big substantial increase in the EPC rating. However, some of the exemptions may be triggered. For example, reducing the lettable area and therefore the property value by 5% or more; or if the cost of the improvement would not pay for itself over a 7-year period. Failing to secure consent from tenants or from planning authorities may also make this type of intervention exempt. Whilst these challenges exist, it is worth keeping in mind that even a small amount of insulation (50mm) or a partial envelope upgrade can still make a meaningful difference.
5. High efficiency LEDs
Installing the latest light fittings will offer large improvement to the EPC rating. This is also likely be one of the simpler interventions and will have one of the best investment paybacks.
6. Harnessing solar power
Photovoltaic panels improve the EPC rating whilst also generating value. Typically, the payback period for the investment will be less than ten years at current electricity prices. The payback can be even better for commercial buildings especially when there is a larger day time energy use.
7. Mechanical ventilation
Implementing mechanical ventilation with heat recovery with demand led control, using CO2 sensors, can also be a great intervention. These systems enhance indoor air quality whilst using the lowest possible amount of energy.
Embracing the EPC B journey: a collective responsibility
The pursuit of EPC B isn't just a regulatory obligation, it's a collective endeavour to safeguard the environment for future generations. Businesses, property owners, and developers have a unique opportunity to play a key role in this transition towards energy-efficient infrastructure and, as we look ahead to a future, embracing the EPC B target is a commitment to building a sustainable legacy.
Integration can help a new project get off to the right start by carrying out a site survey and creating a 3D carbon model the building to test and rank the cost benefit of a variety of interventions. This includes indicating which interventions are likely have a payback period within a 7 year period.
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