Energy efficiency for privately rented commercial buildings
Posted on 28th November 2023
Minimum energy efficiency standards
From April this year non-domestic landlords must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) E rating unless they have an exemption. This applies to all privately rented non-domestic properties even when the tenancy hasn’t changed.
There are plans for stricter minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) requirements by 2030 for landlords of privately rented non-domestic properties across England and Wales. The government says it wants non-domestic properties to have an EPC band B rating. However, landlords would only have to improve energy efficiency where energy cost savings pay for them within seven years. This is known as the seven-year payback test.
The government estimates the EPC band B target could reduce UK emissions by the equivalent of half a million homes and save businesses up to £1billion per year in energy costs. Businesses could save up to £1billion per year in energy costs. An alternative band C target has been suggested but the government says this isn’t ambitious enough to reduce emissions.
Energy efficiency requirements for non-domestic properties
So far it isn’t clear whether the new requirements will apply to all properties immediately in 2030 or whether milestones will apply along the way. As with the recent changes, new tenancies might have to meet the requirements first, followed by renewals and existing tenancies.
Who will need to make energy efficiency improvements?
More than eight out of 10 existing non-domestic buildings in England and Wales will need improvements to meet the EPC band B target. A target of EPC band C would affect around four out of 10. The government estimates almost two thirds of buildings could achieve a band B rating.
Generally, landlords are responsible for the energy efficiency of their buildings. In some cases, a tenant could fund the improvements at the start of their tenancy. For example, tenants in retail premises might need specific lighting, air conditioning and ventilation.
Options to improve energy efficiency
The current approach looks mainly at the condition of buildings rather than their operational efficiency. However, the government is considering 'in-use' energy performance as well. New non-domestic developments and landlords planning refurbishments can take steps now to future-proof the energy efficiency of their buildings.
There are international standards to assess the overall impact of building automation and controls (BACS) on the energy efficiency of buildings. The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has produced a technical guide on ‘The Impact of Controls on the Energy Efficiency of Buildings’. It’s intended to help manufacturers and systems integrators understand the British Standard for BACS* and improve building energy performance.
We are always happy to give advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of electrical installations in commercial properties, so please get in touch.
*The guide focuses on British and European standards (BS EN 15232-1:2017)
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