Commercial Energy Performance Certificates Explained

Energy Performance Certificates Explained. We regularly receive enquiries from people asking for further information about the requirements and regulations relating to the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). We have listed some of the most common questions that we are asked with the corresponding answers. If your particular questions are not listed please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to provide you with the appropriate information.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

An EPC indicates the energy efficiency of a building fabric and the installed heating, ventilation, cooling and lighting systems. However, it does not take into account how the present occupier uses these systems.

An EPC will also include a Recommendations Report to suggest improvements to the energy efficiency of the building.

Lodgement and Register

All valid EPCs and Recommendations Reports are lodged with the Central Register. The register provides an independent means for potential buyers or renters (and those acting on their behalf) to check that certificates are authentic via the unique RRN—the report reference number—which can be found on the top right hand side of the certificate.

Why is an EPC important?

As a member state of the EU, the UK was required to implement the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (Directive 2002/91/EC—the EPBD) in full by January 2009.

The EPBD is intended to deal with two main issues:

  • To reduce emissions harmful to the planet’s future—carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are now accepted as a major cause of global climate change—‘global warming’; and
  • To ensure security of energy supplies in the medium to long term.

As energy consumption is increasing, with a consequent increase in CO2 emissions; better energy efficiency in buildings is intended to play an important part in the package of policies and measures needed to comply with the aim of reducing CO2 emission.

The UK Government is required to:

  • Set minimum standards for new buildings, and work on some larger existing buildings, based on those energy assessment methods
  • Provide certificates which state the building’s energy performance, and in some circumstances have those certificates on public display
  • Inspect some air-conditioning systems to determine their energy performance
  • Give advice on improving the efficiency of some heating systems.
  • Provide information to occupiers and other building users about energy efficiency with a view to raising awareness of the issues involved.

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What is recorded on an Energy Performance Certificate?

An official, valid certificate will include:

  • A certificate reference number
  • The address of the property it relates to
  • The asset rating of the property it relates to
  • Brief technical information
  • Benchmarks

The certificate also provides administrative information, including:

  • The assessor’s name and number
  • The Accreditation Scheme
  • The issue date
  • The reference number of the associated
  • The Recommendations Report


When is an EPC required?

An EPC is required when a building, (including a part of a building which has been designed or altered to be used separately), is constructed, sold or let.

For all sales and rentals, the EPC must be made available to any prospective buyer or tenant at the earliest opportunity and in any event:

  • Before entering into a contract, or
  • When information in writing is first given to such a person who requests information about the building, or
  • When the building is first viewed by such a person.

Both the EPC and the Recommendation Report must be provided free of charge to prospective buyers or tenants, and be given to the person who ultimately becomes the buyer or tenant of the building. When a building or building unit is offered for sale or to rent, the EPC rating must be stated in all marketing literature (including sales particulars, newspaper and internet advertising).

Building owners need to be aware that for enforcement purposes, it is their responsibility to make sure that the EPC is made available and provided to the ultimate buyer or tenant. This is the case, even if in practice this is done by someone else (e.g. an agent or building manager/managing agent).

When is an EPC not required?

In the following situations an EPC may not be required:

  • Buildings used primarily or solely as places of worship
  • Temporary buildings with a planned time of use of two years or less
  • Industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand (but note: removal of existing heating systems to take advantage of this exemption is likely to be seen as an attempt to avoid regulation and is usually not tolerated)
  • Standalone buildings with a total floor area of less than 50m2 which are not dwellings
  • Particular buildings officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historic merit

How long is an EPC valid for?

The EPC for a non domestic building is valid for 10 years, although if a newer EPC is produced, only the latter will be the valid EPC for the building. There may be a requirement to produce a new certificate earlier than this, if certain works (heating, lighting, ventilation, building fabric) are carried out on the building.

How is an EPC produced?

The EPC is an asset rating based on the asset (the building’s fabric and installed building services) and not on how much the present occupiers use those services.

To produce the EPC the assessor will need:

  • Data about the building construction
  • Any alterations to the building fabric since it was built
  • The building services
  • The ‘activities’ taking place (or allowed to take place by the planning class)

To collect the relevant data the assessor will undertake a full visual inspection and measured survey. In some instances a full data set may be impossible to collect by visual inspection alone and the assessor will refer to any additional information provided by the building owner/occupier.

The process is complex and time consuming, because before the data may be input, the assessor must reflect on the data gathered and collate it in a form which suits the required methodology. Even for a straightforward building this may take a full day, and longer for more complex buildings.

What is a Recommendations Report?

The recommendation report is included with the EPC to improve the energy efficiency of the building. The recommendations only include those improvements that are appropriate for the building. The recommendations report:

  • Is a valuable document giving advice on how to improve the energy performance of the premises
  • No mandatory requirement to implement any of the recommendations provided
  • Implementing recommendations will improve the premises, save on energy costs for the occupier, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the building
  • Over time, improving the energy performance of the building is expected to improve its asset value, achieve higher rents and make the property easier to let

Who can produce an EPC?

Energy Performance Certificates are only produced by qualified energy assessors who are members of a government approved accreditation scheme. They must constantly undergo training and evaluation as well as carrying the appropriate levels of public and professional liability insurance.

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