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Campaigners say government 'dragging feet' over energy standards
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Some of the UK’s biggest property owners, developers and occupiers are urging the Government to stop prevaricating and introduce mandatory energy efficiency standards for privately rented commercial buildings.

There are concerns about “significant opposition” to introducing energy efficiency standards within the Coalition. The UK Green Building Council has sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron signed by the heads of major companies including Legal and General, Whitbread, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer on the Government’s proposed minimum energy performance standards (MEPS).

The 2011 Energy Act provides an obligation to upgrade the worst performing privately rented commercial buildings (and homes) – those with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating in band “F” or “G” – from April 2018.

But Government has so far failed to publish a consultation on the policy.

In the letter, the Chief Executives warn that the current uncertainty around the implementation of MEPS is “preventing timely preparations from being made, raising the potential costs of compliance to industry.” Clarity on MEPS however, could unleash a “tidal wave of investment” in the UK’s inefficient property stock, helping the UK to capitalise on the global energy efficiency market that is already worth more than £17.6bn to the economy.

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “The introduction of minimum energy performance standards in privately rented commercial buildings represents a huge market opportunity for the UK and industry is already gearing up to meet these key efficiency standards.

“But there are concerns that some within the Coalition are dragging their heels on MEPS and delaying its implementation. This could deliver a blow for businesses which are already taking steps to assess their property portfolios and improve poorly performing buildings, as well as the wider property market – with occupiers still facing the higher energy bills that come with energy inefficient buildings.”

Energy used in non-domestic buildings is responsible for around 18 per cent of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

Provisions in the 2011 Energy Act provide for powers to ensure that from April 2018, it will be unlawful to rent out a residential or business premise that does not reach a minimum energy efficiency standard (the Government’s intention is for this to be set at EPC rating “E”).

Energy Performance Certificates became mandatory in 2008 and are required whenever a property is built, sold or rented. EPCs are produced by accredited energy assessors using standard methods and assumptions about energy usage meaning the energy efficiency of buildings can easily be compared. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from their building so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment.

Analysis by consultancy WSP Group found that 17 per cent of EPCs for commercial buildings were rated “F” or “G”.

The full text of the letter can be read on the UKGBC website.

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