Brexit- Opportunity to build upon EPCs

The news is now turning towards the Conservatives signing Article 50, which we should all by now know kicks starts the negotiations of exit from the European Union.

The Sunday Times at the weekend; looked specifically at some of main legislation that affects people homes and gardens in the UK and offered an assessment on how likely they are to remain with us, post exit.

Energy Performance Certificates

EPCs as we know are required by anyone selling or renting their homes. Hywel Davies (Technical director of CIBSE) was quoted as saying “although EPCs are based on EU regulations, they have, after a grudging start, become an accepted part of the UK house buying process.”

James Higgins (partner at energy policy experts Ecuity) agrees “that EPCs will probably stay, but says there is a chance that, post Brexit, the calculations behind them can change. EPCs are inflexible. We have evidence from homeowners that, after installing measures such as heat pumps, their rating hasn’t changed, even though their energy use has”. On a positive note he further says “there is a chance here for the UK to embrace more innovative energy-efficiency technology, such as new forms of solid wall insulation, heat generation and lighting, and for this to really register in EPC calculations”.

Energy Efficiency Standards in New Homes

The changes over the last 10 years or so to the Building Regulations have been claimed to have been driven by the EU energy performance of buildings directive. Where each Building Regulation change was a tightening of the amount of CO2 that new build properties could emit. Dr Jan Rosenow of the Sussex Energy Group (a research group based at the University of Sussex) states that with Brexit “there is a real danger that we are going to fall further and further behind our European neighbours”. He like Elmhurst points to the recent scrapping of the zero-carbon homes target, which had it been implemented, have meant that all new homes produce net carbon emissions of zero, as evidence of the current Governments perceived lack of interest in energy efficiency. This is against a backdrop of ‘Getting Britain Building’ where the new Chancellor is backing the building of new affordable homes. Dr Rosenow continues “This would lock British homebuyers into relying on fossil fuels to heat their homes well into the future.”

Energy Efficient Boilers

The ‘green; labelling system which mirrors the ‘A-G’ scale of EPCs was introduced on boilers, so that consumers can see whether they are truly buying an ‘A’ rated appliance or not. This is a good move and is likely to stay to protect and inform consumers.

Comment

Interestingly the EU is pressing ahead with setting potential legally binding energy efficiency targets for 2030. Clearly depending on what occurs around Brexit, we will as a country have to set our own road map to energy efficiency targets. The Sunday Times suggest “A report on the 5th carbon budget due this week, reveals that the UK is a long way off meeting its carbon emissions target.” However Government are stating that they will sign the UN climate change protocol before the end of the year and so will need a plan!

Elmhurst welcome the fact that energy efficiency (EPCs and Labels) are now common practice in the UK and that the experts have stated that they will continue post Brexit. We also welcome the fact that improvements can be made to EPCs. In our view there is actually missing knowledge in certain quarters about what EPCs actually are.

We have seen where ‘Industry experts’ do not actually understand that there are two ratings on an EPC one for cost and one for carbon emissions. Some key figures did not realise that items like U-values could be used within EPCs to over ride defaults, claims that age bands did nothing to help the accuracy of EPCs have been mentioned. With the fact that Elmhurst and NHER have merged, we think that we are the voice that this Industry needs – to extol the virtues of EPCs, but vitally to embrace change and value input from others. We want to drive the EPCs to make the difference that we all want and believe that they can. We believe that as an Accreditation Scheme we need to be doing this for our members (and the wider Industry) – after all if we don’t, which other scheme is doing it?

Opportunities

We will continue to advocate for EPCs and also to ensure change is of value. We will also aim to educate and inform others of what an EPC does and what it doesn’t do, opening up opportunities to further its value for members of the Public and Business. With the opportunity of bringing together the two most knowledgeable and influential Accreditation Schemes – we have an opportunity to shout that bit louder.

Brexit brings uncertainty , but as Albert Einstein famously stated “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”. We believe that Elmhurst and our members will embrace the change in a positive way.

 

 

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